Saving Time

November 8, 2021

This weekend we “fell back” and got an extra hour of sleep through the wonder of daylight savings time. While the idea of saving time, or at least daylight hours, was supposedly conceived by Benjamin Franklin as a joke to minimize the use of candles and lamp oil, credit for the modern concept of daylight savings time is commonly given to George Hudson, an entomologist from New Zealand. He proposed a two-hour time shift in 1895 so he would have more after-work hours of sunshine to go bug hunting in the summer.

During World War I daylight savings time was first widely used in a major way, however. Starting with the German Empire, countries set clocks ahead one hour in an effort to use less power for lighting and save fuel for the war effort.

But the idea of saving time has a much earlier and more significant beginning. The Bible, in numerous places, talks about time saving or time redeeming. “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days” (Ephesians 5:15-16 NLT). The older translations say, “redeeming the time” or “saving the time” in place of “making the most of every opportunity.”

To redeem something means to buy it back, to regain possession of it, to make the most of every opportunity. Time is a gift from God, and none of us know how much of it we will get to make the decisions that will impact eternity. Making the most of every opportunity and redeeming the time means living in the awareness of the passing of time so we will intentionally make the most of the time we have.

Rather than wasting our days, redeeming the time means that we are careful in how we live. We seek out and follow wisdom (Proverbs 2:1–15). We manage our time to seize every opportunity and use it for God’s glory. We think through our plans and make sure they line up with God’s will. And we avoid empty, harmful activities. We live this way in the middle of these evil days and work to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).

Jesus taught His disciples how vital it is to redeem or save the time. He urged them, “We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work” (John 9:4 NLT). Jesus was diligent to redeem the time. He knew His mission and let nothing deter Him from it. Distractions were as common then as they are now, but He stayed on track. He redeemed the time so well that though He was able to only spend 33 years on this planet, only three years of those in active ministry, Jesus changed the world forever because He redeemed the time.

The song, Live Like You Were Dying, by Tim McGraw is about redeeming the time. The focus is actually earthly passions, but the lyrics make a crucial point—it’s a good thing to be put in a place where you are forced to take a new perspective. As Christians, we should live with the end in mind, with consciousness that any day could be the last, and make certain we pursue all God has for us while we have time. My grandparents had a sign that hung on their dining room wall that said, “Only one life will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” Everything done for Christ on earth earns eternal rewards and lasts forever (Mark 9:41).

If we want to redeem the time, we must ask God to help us. Let’s start every morning by giving Him the day and asking Him to help us do something that has eternal significance. By beginning our day with eternity in mind, we become more aware of opportunities to influence and impact others for their own future. We can look for productive ways to honor Jesus, serve someone else, or generally benefit the world.

As we drive, we can pray for the people around us. Walking the dog can be a prayer journey for our neighbors, and maybe we can get in a few short, encouraging conversations as well. Working around the house, we can sing, pray, or listen to a podcast. At a restaurant, generate conversation with your server. If anything in the conversation indicates a need for special prayer or a cry for help, speak without pressure to that. For instance, “Oh, I am so sorry your son is so sick.” A working mother: “Wow, that must be extra hard. I’m going to pray for you as we pray over our meal and later too. Our church family has all been through tough times and loves to help others. Is there anything we could do for you?” Leave an extra big tip with a “God bless you!” on the note. For many servers, if not most, leaving a tract or message from your church negates much of the good you do. They feel like we are head-hunting instead of being sincere. You can volunteer, serve at church, lead a ministry, help in the community—there’s no end to what you can do if your heart is positioned to do it.

James 4:14 reminds us that our earthly lives are no more than a fog that comes up in the morning quickly and evaporates before very long. Someone else will get our job. Our money and possessions will be given to someone else. No matter how much our families love us, they have to move on without depending on our presence. The only thing that remains and lasts forever is the time we saved; the time we redeemed by investing it in things that last. In the end, all that matters is what we did or did not do to redeem the time (Psalm 102:3; 144:4).