Best of Daily Reflections: The Time That Is Given to Us
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
I cannot leave Ephesians 5:15-16 without sharing a bit of Gandalfian wisdom (or, if you prefer, wisdom from J. R. R. Tolkien, spoken by his character, Gandalf). It comes early in The Lord of the Rings series (though somewhat later in the movie). Gandalf, the wise wizard, was visiting the home of Frodo, the humble Hobbit who had been given a powerful, evil ring. After sharing with Frodo what he knows about the history of the ring, Gandalf observed that Sauron the Great, the Dark Lord, was growing in power and wanted the ring entrusted to Frodo.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us. Wise words, words that might well have been spoken by the Apostle Paul. Words that were, no doubt, shaped by Tolkien’s own Christian faith.
According to Ephesians, we live in evil days. We find ourselves in a situation not unlike that of Frodo, Gandalf, and the other inhabitants of Middle Earth. We have not been given an evil ring of power, of course. But we have been entrusted with the good news of the gospel. We have been called into a way of living that opposes the darkness of our world. When we say “yes” to Jesus, we join his battle against the forces of evil.
Like Frodo, we may not like this. If we’re honest, we might also say, “I wish it need not have happened in my time.” But the truth is that we cannot choose to live in others times. We cannot skip immediately to the future when God reigns and all of creation is united under Christ. We must live in these evil days.
But we have a choice about how to live. We can choose to walk worthy of the calling with which we have been called (4:1). We can choose, by God’s grace, to be careful how we live, to live wisely, and to redeem the time given to us (5:15-16). As we look at our lives and the world in which we live, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time given us.” Will we live as the world dictates? Or will we set time free from the clutches of evil, using it for God’s purposes? Will we, like Frodo, heed the call given to us and live for the sake of redemption?
All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. Well spoken, Gandalf.
QUESTION FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What are you going to decide to do with the time that has been given to you?
PRAYER: Gracious God, thank you for the gift of life. Thank you for the time you have given to me. Thank you for entrusting me with your gospel, so that I might share it in word and deed. Help me, I pray, to decide to do good with the time you have given me. May I choose you and your ways each day. May I oppose evil wherever it is found, whether in my neighborhood, workplace, city, or society. Use me, Lord, for your kingdom purposes. Amen.
Each year, workers everywhere receive an evaluation of their job performance from their employer and, while most evaluations in the workplace don't go quite the way they appear on The Apprentice, those annual evaluations are often the source of everything from disappointment and stress, to surprise and a boost of confidence. How do we approach and receive evaluations as Christian workers? What can we learn from Jesus about giving and receiving words of instruction, correction, and affirmation? How can entrepreneurs and the self-employed remain accountable for doing good work and for keeping an eye on weaknesses and vulnerabilities in the workplace? The series The Evaluation takes a closer look.