“But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law” (Galatians 4:4).
“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16 NKJV).
No doubt you have attended a Christmas party this month in which everyone was encouraged to bring a “white elephant” gift. It’s sure to bring loads of laughter to the gathering as people try to outdo each other with the outrageously useless, prankish gifts. Tucked away in closets and cabinets in our home there are things that came to us years ago through the deviously thoughtful efforts of friends wanting to choose “just the right gift” for us.
Do you know where the “white elephant” gift idea came from?
Gordon MacDonald, one of my favorite authors, gives the following insightful background: “In ancient days when the king of Siam had an enemy he wanted to torment and destroy, he would send that enemy a unique gift, a white elephant, a live, albino elephant. These animals were considered sacred in the culture of that day. So the recipient of that elephant had no choice but to intentionally care for the gift. This elephant would take an inordinate amount of the enemy’s time, resources, energy, emotions, and finances. Over time the enemy would destroy himself because of the extremely burdensome process of caring for the gift.”
One of the greatest gifts God gives us is time. It is the currency with which we live our lives. God gives us seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years to be used by us to fulfill His purpose for our lives and for His Kingdom. It is also in the span of these chunks of time that we enjoy life with our loved ones, friends and fellow believers.
As we audit our lives from time to time we realize that we have accumulated not a few “white elephants” in our schedule and routine. They are things that we have taken on (perhaps even with good intentions) that distract us from the most important things we should be about in life. Perhaps it is a time-consuming hobby or a time-wasting habit. If we are honest we realize that our lives would be just as meaningful without them … and far more productive in terms of stewardship.
God is the master of time. History is His Story. He uses every nanosecond of time for His good and glorious purposes. At just the right time He sent us His Son and our Savior. We celebrate that at Christmas. And at just the right time He will close the curtain on history. Our days are in His hands.
So as we redeem the time, as Paul says in Ephesians 5:16, we are making the most of every minute that ticks by in our day. But we are also making the most of opportunities that come packaged in those minutes. Opportunities … to spend a quiet hour with your child … to speak an encouraging word to your mate … to visit a hurting friend in the hospital or nursing home … to sit expectantly before God with your Bible in your lap.
Your time is a gracious gift from God. Time is invested … and it is wasted. What are you doing with your time?