A race against time (Ephesians 5:15-16)

POST OVERVIEW. A meditation on the use of our time as a disciple of Jesus.

From the time the disciple is called to faith, from the moment he begins following Jesus, the disciple is in a race against time. What do I mean by this? After a person comes to faith in Christ, the believer gains a new awareness of the brevity of life and of its fleeting nature. Having passed from death to life (John 5:24), the follower of Jesus begins to understand that “childhood and the prime of life are fleeting” (Ecclesiastes 11:10), and that “now” is the only time he has. With the new eyes of faith, the believer sees that life can only be spent and that life is to be given away in service to the Lord and to others (2 Cor. 12:15).

The new believer also has a sense of duty that did not exist before, a desire to glorify the Lord with his life. There is now a God-given purpose to the disciple’s life that replaces the previous selfish ambitions. “To live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21) and with this compelling purpose comes a greater awareness of the finish line. “We must work the works of [the Lord] as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4). The disciple is increasingly aware that, unless the Lord returns first, night is coming. There is coming a day when his race will have been run (2 Tim. 4:7), and the question will be, “Have I fought the good fight, have I kept the faith?” So, before that day, the disciple is eager to “walk not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of the time for the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16). In this sense, then, the disciple is in a race against time.


With the unknown finish line coming irresistibly closer, what is it that the disciple is racing against time to do? Here are some of my own ideas.

Every disciple has been called to Christ to accomplish the good works which God prepared beforehand for him to do (Eph. 2:10) and so I desire to complete these good works before I am taken away by death or the Lord’s return.

There is a race against time to leave a legacy, to accomplish “a great work” that the Lord has given only me to do. Nehemiah was called to leave his job as a cupbearer to the king and rebuild the wall in Jerusalem. He said to his two nemeses, Sanballat and Tobiah, “I am doing a great work” and I cannot be distracted (Neh. 6:3). Gideon was chosen to defeat the Midianites (Judges 6-8). Joshua led the nation of Israel into the Promised Land. Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem. Noah built an ark. Perhaps God will be gracious to give me a great work as well. So, there is a race to leave my legacy.

In Matthew 13:3, we read, “The sower went out to sow.” The Lord has given me a sack of gospel seeds to scatter and I want my sack to be empty before I am called home. So, there is a race against time to scatter gospel seeds.

There are so many who do not know about Jesus and His finished work on the cross and the salvation that He offers to lost sinners. But I do know Jesus, and it is a race against time to tell as many as I can about my great King.

From time to time, my fellow disciples can become discouraged by the trials and pressures of the world and by the evil in the world, and I am racing against time to encourage as many as I can, “to spur them on to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). Also, I have been given gifts of teaching and so I am in a race against time to edify others with power from the Word.

When I came to Christ more than thirty years ago, I was morally polluted and had developed ungodly habits of life and thought and had a foul mouth. But God has been changing me day by day over these thirty years so that I have made progress in my sanctification. Now I want to display this ransomed life to the world to show God’s power to transform anyone into His useful instrument.

Finally, the Lord has entrusted me with significant financial resources and I am in a race against time to wisely spend the money entrusted to me so that I do not die with a lot of unused funds. The man in Luke 12 was a fool for building bigger barns and not being rich toward God. In the same way, I want to be generous in wise investments of the Lord’s money as a good steward.

So, I am racing against time to accomplish these things with my remaining years.

SDG                 rmb                 11/15/2022                 #586

For the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16)

Perhaps it is just the haze that has clouded my memory over three or four decades, but in my mind, these present days are indeed evil days compared with times past. In my teens and twenties, when I was coming of age and moving into adulthood, I was decidedly not a Christian, so the decisions I made and the ambitions I had were completely disconnected from obedience to God and were, therefore, devoid of any wisdom that would come from the Bible or from wise men. I was living for me and was only interested in my desires and pleasures, and so I made many poor decisions and several disastrous ones. But in the days of my young adulthood, the world was a much more benevolent place and even my major mistakes seemed to have only minor and temporary consequences. Truly bad choices resulted in setbacks, certainly, but there remained a ray of hope and a peculiar confidence that all was not lost and that somehow there was still an escape as I continued to plummet earthward. A parachute would be procured, and the landing might be rough, but I would survive and move on.

But that is not the case today. The world today is a malevolent place where disaster seems to lurk behind the corner of even wise decisions and righteous actions. The devil has been released from the abyss (Revelation 20:7) and the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16) and the consequences of poor decisions and unwise actions are amplified. Our days these days are evil. Instead of hiding in the dark, the wicked brazenly parade their wickedness in broad daylight, unashamed of the vilest of deeds (Romans 1:32). It seems that even the wisest and most cautious plans of the righteous walk a tightrope toward success, and the scattered plans of the unrighteous which characterized my young adulthood inevitably meet with shipwreck.

And so, the disciple of Jesus must “be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of the time BECAUSE THE DAYS ARE EVIL.”


In view of the present distress (1 Corinthians 7:26), here are some suggestions for how the believer can walk wisely in these evil days.

First, holiness should be a constant and conscious objective. This holiness is visible righteousness. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6). In years past, it seems that a token nod to holiness would stave off the temptations to evil, but in the evil day the disciple of Jesus must take up the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:13). There needs to be a conscious striving for holiness that is driven into the soul by a persistent discipline. The days are evil, the disciple of Jesus is a visible target, and the battle is fierce. “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2).

Second, the disciple of Jesus must be alert for the encroachment of Satan and watch for the impact of his schemes. It is a doctrinal fact that the believer has, in Christ, defeated Satan and, in Christ, the believer need not fear the ultimate success of Satan’s schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11). Nevertheless, the disciple of Christ is to be on the alert for the working of the wicked one. Our adversary is patient, is deceptive, is subtle, and springs his traps suddenly and unexpectedly. For the naïve and the careless believer, Satan’s schemes can ruin years of fruitful service and can render the disciple useless for future work. “Be sober! Be on the alert!” (1 Peter 5:8).

Third, pray that the Lord will protect you from shipwreck and will guide you along the path of righteousness. Consider the truths of Psalm 91. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1). Pray through the power of Psalm 18:1-3, joining with David in asking the LORD for His protection and declaring the ways the LORD defends His children. It is certainly true that the Lord is our strength and our shield, but it is also true that, when the days are evil, the disciple of Jesus is well-advised to cry out to the Lord and proclaim the Lord’s power and declare the Lord’s promise to be the Defender of His people. “But the LORD is with me like a dread champion” (Jeremiah 20:11). What adversary will come forward to fight my Champion?

SDG                 rmb                 7/6/2021                     #420