Reading: Ephesians 5:8–20

‘Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil’ (Ephesians 5:15, 16). Another translation urges us to ‘make the best use of the time’. This seems an awesome challenge to many people who have lived for years with little or no discipline at the heart of their lives. In fact, in my experience it is one of the most crucial lessons for those who want to serve the Lord most fruitfully to have to learn. Time is a precious gift and it is given on a non-repeatable basis. We should approach every day with a sense of awe and purpose. Here is a stretch of road that we will never pass over again. I am not suggesting that we develop a neurotic attitude towards our lives, but we need to become better stewards of the gift of time.

The old saying tells us that, ‘Procrastination is the thief of time, and it is true. Many of the items which become a bug-bear in our lives are those which are put off to another day. The other day has a habit of never arriving and we discover that we have collected a bad debt of unfulfilled business which sabotages our effectiveness. I find this to be particularly true with letters, which I don’t like writing.

In fact, this is another area where we need to take control in the power of God—namely, the area of likes and dislikes. Most people operate quite well in areas which they like but a real secret of fruitfulness is to learn to be effective in areas we don’t like. We can see the principle of ‘do it now’, being worked out in the men of faith in Scripture—Moses, for example, who must have been a very busy man. God laid one demand after another on his back. In Numbers chapter 1 Moses is told to conduct a census of all the children of Israel. Now there’s a job! What did he do? Notice in verse 1 that he is given the instruction or task on ‘the first day of the second month’. Notice the day on which Moses got on with the job according to verse 18: ‘they called the whole community together on the first day of the second month’. This is not a matter of running ahead of God, but it is a matter of expediting the Word of God when it is given instead of shelving it for when you feel more like obeying it.

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