The Apostle Paul encouraged us to pay careful attention to how we live these really short lives.
Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise— making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless living, but be filled by the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:15-18, emphasis added)
There were two different words Paul could have chosen for time: chronos or kairos. Chronos is the word we get “chronological” from, and it means “time in general,” as in “make the most of the time,” generally speaking. The word kairos means a “pre-determined, you get no more of it, this is all you have” amount of time. And kairos is the word Paul uses. You can get more money, but you can’t get more time. You have a preset amount of time. Make the most of it.
If we expect Paul to follow an exhortation about “making the most of time” with a list of helpful time hacks, we will be disappointed. Instead, Paul asks us to consider how we use our time, even the time in our lives that is beyond our control. (Many of the people through the centuries who read Paul’s words lived very different lives and had little control over their calendars, so there must be a deeper focus to this passage than some time hacks.) Three phrases jump out from the passage that are connected in this passage and earlier in the book of Ephesians: walk as wise people, the Lord’s will, filled with the Spirit. They are connected earlier in the book of Ephesians.
- …according to the riches of his grace that he richly poured out on us with all wisdom and understanding. He made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he purposed in Christ. (Ephesians 1:7-9, emphasis added)
- I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him. (Ephesians 1:17, emphasis added)
The mystery of His will was that Jesus would come here for us. To understand God’s will is to understand that Jesus came here for you and is pursuing others for Himself. To be filled with wisdom is to be filled with the Spirit. Knowing Jesus and helping others know Jesus impacts this life and the life to come. This life is not all there is, and if we use this life to know Jesus and point others to Jesus, then we are walking wisely because that will last.
My father’s diagnosis with ALS has also caused me to think about the brevity and fragility of life. A few months ago, I took my parents to eat and my dad had a hard time cutting his steak. On the way home, he talked about how fast his muscles are deteriorating. “Look at how hollow my hands look. It is so odd that this is happening so fast.” We talked about how we are not meant to live in these broken bodies forever and that a day is coming when my body will deteriorate too, that my dad is just ahead of me by a little. But one day, all of that will be made right. We will both be in everlasting paradise because we understand the mystery of God’s will—the glorious news that Jesus came here for us. But not only us.
We are wise and we make the most of the time when we see everything as an opportunity to know Jesus more and point others to Jesus. Our lives are always meaningful and significant then. The Scripture is clear that our lives are short—but they are not meaningless if we know Jesus.