|Vol. 14 No. 6 June 20121||
“Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:14-16). “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:5-6).
Once, several years ago, I went into a store in Valdosta, Georgia. I remember that it was a Winn-Dixie grocery store that we often used. I had just cashed a check, and had two $100 bills stuck in my pocket. That $200 was going to have to feed my family for the next month or more. After I left the store, I realized that somehow I had dropped that $200 out of my pocket. I went back and searched frantically for it. I never found it. I can still feel the giant bubble of despair that welled up in my chest and the desperate thoughts that raced through my mind: “How am I going to tell Barbara I have lost our grocery money?” “How am I going to feed my wife and children, now?” I know someone had a “lucky day” when they found that money, but it definitely was not a good day for me. As I think about this experience, I wonder how many, even more important things, I have lost, never to retrieve them again. Among those things that are lost is unredeemed time.
Time is a precious gift given to humanity from the heart of God. Every moment is filled with the beating of our hearts. Every second is a fleeting gift that can never again be retrieved. In our mind’s eyes we can replay special moments. We may even be able to record them on film or video. However, once that moment slides away into the great Gulf of Moments Past, it is never going to return to us again. We have either spent it well, or lost it never to receive it back again.
I sat on a plane on a trip back from India one year. Next to me, as was often the case it seemed, sat a doctor of Indian origin. I always wondered why these doctors sat in economy, when they could obviously afford to fly first class. Often, I would get into discussions with them on various matters, from religion to politics. On this particular flight, this doctor began to talk to me about his children. He said some things that have stuck with me through all the ensuing years. I do not know if I helped him any, as a matter of fact I did not, and still do not, know what I should have said to him, but I do know that he affected me. He told me that his children were now entering their teen years. He said that he had given them the very best of everything: the best house in which to live, the best clothes, the best schooling – everything that money could buy. However, with tears flowing down his cheek, this powerful, rich, successful doctor told me, “But, I have lost my children.” He went on to say (and I will never forget this), “I have given them the best of things, but I have not given them what they need the most: me and my time!”
How many times since that day have I sat in the blistering sun watching a child perform in a band or play in a ballgame, when I could have been doing so many other things, and remembering the lesson I was taught by that successful doctor: my children needed me and my time. From time to time, I have put off my children because I wanted to do whatever or because I “needed” to do whatever, only to regret those wasted moments and to realize that I could never have them back. “Whatever,” more often than not could have waited, because my children would not wait. I do not remember a single moment that I paid special attention to my children that I took them somewhere, watched them play ball, play in a band or act in a play that I regret spending. I believe that I spent those moments well. I hope that I can continue to have those well-spent moments with my grown children and with my grandson (and any other grandchildren that come along). Moments like that are never wasted, and will always bring joy.
I know that the two passages mentioned at the beginning of this article do not specifically deal with time spent with family. I do know, however, that the principle of “redeeming the time” most certainly does. Let us use the time wisely, in spiritual matters, in how we treat those outside of Christ and in our dealings with those that we love.
I hated it the day that I lost the $200. I regret much more those times that I have wasted, and that can never be redeemed. Let all of us try to minimize those lost moments and to create precious memories of time well-spent.
I do believe that the winter past was the mildest one I have ever witnessed in my lifetime. Like us, most of you did not even have to take the heavy clothes and coats out of the closet or put heavy blankets on the bed. Our fuel bills were even down considerably. We saw a few flakes of snow one time but there was no accumulation. Hot temperatures have arrived early, and we are already looking for ways to relieve ourselves of the heat. The big problem is that the temperature is beginning to rise and the clothes are coming off! Not only is this happening at swimming spots, but on the streets and in all public places. It is almost a disgrace to walk down a street, go to a park, etc. You get the picture! You see the same exposure I see.
The prophet Jeremiah spoke of such a time as this in Jeremiah 8:12. “Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed and neither could they blush.” As people are exposing their bodies in public, they fail to realize how this may affect others in so many ways, and this goes for the male populace as well as the female. There have been times when I have actually had to turn my head away from some publicly exposed body. There are just some parts of our physical make-up that are private and not for public exposure. If these people would restrict such openness to nudist colonies and topless beaches, there would be less embarrassment for those of us who can still blush at immodesty.
The real shame of it is that parents are allowing youngsters to expose themselves in such a shabby manner. I wonder if they have ever considered the fact that their children (male and female) could be observed by an active sex predator or even a would-be predator. Even though their child may be mostly exposed so that a predator would be tempted and attack a child, in the public eye, it becomes totally the fault of the attacker. Parents, consider how you and your children dress for the public. Do not entice someone to harm another when there is no need for it. Keep private parts private!
The very first sin on the earth was when Eve ate of the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden and she gave it to Adam also. Up until that time, we are told “They were both naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25). After eating of that forbidden fruit, “They knew they were naked and sewed fig leaves together and made aprons for themselves” (Genesis 3:7). God created man in the “raw” state and there was no reason for shame but, with the eating of the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, their “eyes were opened” (3:7), and things have never been the same since.
If you have doubt about what God’s intentions were about exposing one’s body, look at Leviticus 18. It was God’s way of saying that the physical body is a private thing and, when not properly regarded, there are consequences to pay. We read in Revelation 3:18, “buy white raiment that you may be clothed and that the shame of your nakedness does not appear.” God expects His creation – men and women – to clothe their bodies. Being half-clothed (or less) does not take care of the problem.
Exposing one’s half-naked body for public viewing can create “fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11). Modern fashion does not leave much to the imagination, but in order to be fashionable, both women and men buy clothing to wear in public that ought to be reserved for the privacy of their homes. Christians, do not dress your children scantily, and do not fall prey to the desire to be like others. In fact, be different from the world as Paul instructed, “Denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world” (Titus 2:12). Is fashion worth the price of your or someone else’s soul?