Godless Productivity

A Believer’s Guide to Redeeming Time

Get proper sleep. Organize your day. Get exercise. Watch your diet. Limit distractors. Draw boundaries. Get outside. Keep a calendar. Review each day. Set attainable goals. Say “no” to good things. Detach from screens.

So run secular productivity and self-help books.

What lacks in this advice is to ask if God has anything to say on the subject. Natural revelation, not special revelation, is consulted. Principles may abound, but are the most important realities missing? You receive no sense of sin and Satan, no sense of God and glory, no sense of faith and repentance, no sense of heaven or hell, no sense of souls or immortality. All we receive is a few peripheral tips for navigating the world. They send us rowing off to nowhere, efficiently.

In turning to God’s book, however, we find not only superior counsel, but surprising counsel. To make the best use of the time, to navigate this life to the fullest, to use our time most wisely, we must be aware of the setting of our lives this side of eternity: the days are evil.

Redeemed Time for Evil Days

To know how to live, we must know when we live.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15–16)

  • Look carefully — watch closely, take inventory, consider;
  • How you walk, how you live, where you place your feet, where your steps lead;
  • Not as unwise but as wise — listening to, obeying, and navigating life heeding God’s voice;
  • Making the best use of the time (literally, “redeeming the time”) — buying it back from idleness, purposelessness, sin, Satan;
  • Because the days are evil.

Paul knew that the world he lived in — the same one we live in presently — has a rebellious “course,” ruled by a “prince” whose ways are sinister (Ephesians 2:2). To redeem our time, to walk wisely, to make our lives count and avoid destruction, we must see what Paul does: a world at war with its Maker, and ourselves traveling through that world.

Our Busy Enemy

Can you discern the times in which we live? Turn on any news station, talk to any of your neighbors, glance at posts on social media, consider for a moment the thousands of babies legally murdered in neighborhood facilities, put your ear to creation’s chorus of groans, we are confronted with the same message: The days are dark with evil.

“To know how to live, we must know when we live.”

Yet we often fail to realize it. Modern times do not come to us dressed in black, holding a pitchfork. We sail in luxury on our self-help cruises, gliding under clear skies and warm weather. But the apostle Paul places us in a battleship, travailing perilous waves with the threat of enemy planes above, torpedoes below, and mutiny within.

Yes, we feast. Yes, we laugh. Yes, we celebrate all that God has done and is doing and will most certainly do. But we also mourn. We also sin. We also see things that twist the soul with grief and horror. And while Satan distracts and tempts us into idleness and wasted lives, he is a busy enemy, hunting on what he knows to be borrowed time. Spurgeon sounds the siren,

A Christian sluggard! Is there such a being? A Christian man on half time? A Christian man working not at all for his Lord; how shall I speak of him? Time does not tarry, Death does not tarry, Hell does not tarry; Satan is not lazy, all the powers of darkness are busy: how is it that you and I can be sluggish, if the Master has put us into his vineyard? Surely we must be void of understanding if, after being saved by the infinite love of God, we do not spend and be spent in his service.

We sail in a warzone, the days are evil, souls are won or lost every day. Is now the time and this world the place for rest? Are we home? Is there not a true heaven at the end of a narrow and hard way? Wicked times must be met with wise, purposeful, redeemed living. Look carefully then how you walk, for the days are evil.

Ten More Lives

At the end of Schindler’s List, as the title character flees his home after helping over a thousand Jews escape from Nazi deathcamps, the surviving Jews thank him for all the tireless labor and sacrifice he endured on their behalf. His response is chilling, “I could have got more out. . . . I threw away so much money.” He looks at his car, his watch, his possessions and asks, Why did I keep the car? This was ten more lives. This pin is gold — two more lives.

Schindler did not lament that he didn’t watch more television or exercise more or keep boundaries on his email — he regretted not making the best use of the time, not doing what he could to save lives during his evil days. How many of us, myself included, will come to our end and say, This television series — could this have been ten more lives? This vain hobby, who else might have heard and believed?

I am not trying to overreach and burden consciences while enjoying good things of earth. The demons, not wisdom, forbid the good that God has created and given to us (1 Timothy 4:3). I hope to awaken us again to the brevity and gravity of our days, so that these gifts inspire vigilance and not negligence. We have work to do, and we must work while it is still day — while we still can.

Now Is the Time

How are you living? Are you walking as wise or unwise? Are you making the best use of the time, or are you enslaved to triviality and sin? Have you reckoned that the days are evil?

“Now is the hour to denounce worldliness, refuse apathy, and cling to Christ like never before.”

Scripture charts the way to redeem our time. If we look solely at the rest of Ephesians, we see that: Now is the time to know what the will of the Lord is (Ephesians 5:17), to be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), to sing songs and hymns to each other from your heart (Ephesians 5:19), to give thanks in everything to the Father, through the Son (Ephesians 5:20), to follow God’s will for marriage, the family, and society (Ephesians 5:21–6:9), to stand strong in the Lord and in his strength and armor (Ephesians 6:10–20) — because these days are evil days.

Now is the time to pray, now is the time to fast, now is the time to encourage one another as we see the day drawing near. Now is the time to reconcile with those we have not forgiven, to love the unlovable, to share the gospel with that person we assume God won’t save, to confess that secret sin to a trusted brother or sister, to live more unreservedly for God’s glory. Now is the time to let our speech be seasoned with salt, to let our lights shine before a panicking world, to proclaim the excellencies of our Christ.

Now is the hour to denounce worldliness, refuse apathy, and cling to Christ like never before. It is time to redeem the time while trusting God, for though the days are evil, he is forever good.