Just a Minute is Mike Burnard’s monthly column



Ephesians 5:15-16 “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

Visiting a friend recently, I enthusiastically shared how I saved 10 minutes of the journey by taking a shorter route.  My friend looked at me with a smile and simply asked: “What are you going to do with it?” That was a very legitimate question.  Time is a precious and an irreplaceable commodity.  Once it’s gone, it’s gone.  What do we do with it?

One of the most featured concepts in Scripture is TIME.  Excluding phrases like days, years, minutes or seasons, the actual word “time” appears in 713 verses in the Bible (NIV), nearly twice as much as the word “sin”.

But is time tangible or is it an illusion?

Albert Einstein concluded in his “Theory of Relativism” that the past, present, and future all exist at the same time and rejected the notion that the past and future are divided by the “now”.   He believed in a single existence which he based on the idea that one person in a spaceship, travelling across various date lines, is able to experience several days while another person on earth simultaneously experiences only a few hours or minutes. The same two people can meet up again, one having experienced days or even years while the other has only experienced hours and days.   If those in the spaceship are able to travel at the speed of light, their time would cease completely, and they would only exist trapped in timelessness.

This reminded me of a meeting with a friend in the USA, who just arrived from New Zealand.  “When did you leave Auckland?” I asked.  “Oh, I am actually only leaving in an hours time,” he replied.  He had obviously crossed the date-line and even though he flew many hours he was still ahead of the time he had departed.  It was quite sobering to know that he had already experienced something of the day in time, that we had not even entered yet.

According to this concept of time it appears that time is more a direction in space than a moment in history.  This becomes quite significant in our endeavours to use our time wisely and to be good stewards of our time.  We can so easily miss the wisdom of the Bible when we end up running headlong down a path that we think is correct, but we just get further away from where we should be.  In understanding that God is timeless it becomes so much more critical to understand His perspective on this precious commodity.

Time is probably one of the most precious gifts entrusted to any human being.  We are told to:

  • USE IT: Esther 4:14 “… And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
  • APPRECIATE IT: Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
  • NUMBER IT: Psalm 90:12 “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
  • MANAGE IT: John 9:4 “As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” 
  • REDEEM IT: Colossians 4:5 “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.” (KJV)

But to use time wisely we are probably best advised to:

  • RESCUE IT: Ephesians 5:15-16 “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” 

The word used for REDEEM in this verse is ex-ag-or-ad’-zo; literally to “buy up, to rescue or to redeem”.  The word for TIME is ‘kahee-ros’, literally “an OPPORTUNITY, or due season”.  Ephesians 5:16 uses a metaphor taken from merchants and traders who diligently observed and improved the seasons for merchandise and trade.  As Christians we are called to seize what the season offers and save what would otherwise be lost.

On his blog, Life of a Steward[1], Loren Pinilis explores Ephesians 5:15-16 by comparing effective time stewardship to a horse with blinders who ploughs the ground for hours and hours every day, or like the hawk whose sharp senses are scanning the area.

The two Greek words most frequently used for “time” in the new Testament are khron’-os (chronos) and kahee-ros (Kairos). Both words mean time, but they imply two completely different concepts.

‘Chronos’, as found in Galatians 4:4[2], refers to the minutes and the hours we so preciously ration every day.  It is time as a measurable resource that points to a direction.  Kairos on the other hand, as used in Ephesians 5:16[3], refers to a season or an appointed time.  It is a moment of time that points to an opportunity.

Pinilis explains as follows:

“THE CHRONOS OUTLOOK:  We tend to think of our time in a chronos mindset. We think of having 24 hours in a day. We define our workweeks by the number of hours that we work. We have a list of things to do and only so much time to get everything done.

Being conscious of our minutes and seconds is a good thing. We should number our days as the scripture says. Our time on earth is so brief, and we want to be good stewards of every second that we have to glorify God on this earth.  But ironically, this chronos mindset can make us miss what Paul is saying in Ephesians 5. Paul instructs us to redeem the kairos – to pay attention and take advantage of the opportune times and seasons.

A KAIROS VIEW:  We only have such a brief opportunity to shepherd our kids when they’re still young children. When a friend is experiencing pain, we have a brief window of time in which to reach out to them.  When we contemplate global events and witness millions of refugees seeking hope and dignity, we are presented with a kairos moment in history.  Yes, it will require some of our ‘chronos’ time. But this ‘kairos’ opportunity will have a “sell-by-date” and once it’s gone, it will be gone.


This requires us to make a mental shift. Instead of looking at our time as grains of sand slipping through an hourglass, we view our time as opportunities flying by. Instead of viewing our time as seconds ticking by, we realise that not every second holds the same worth.  Some moments are more valuable than other moments. The five minutes that I have a chance to share the gospel with an unsaved friend is a more valuable five minutes than when I’m processing my email. I have to take advantage of my opportunities.

We must change our view of what effectiveness really is. Though we want to use our minutes and seconds wisely, biblical effectiveness is not necessarily us ramming as much as we can into 24 hours. It’s not us putting our head down and ploughing the field with as much vigour as we can muster.

Instead the effective steward is a focused watchman whose senses are attuned to the slightest hint of an opportunity. He’s a hawk on the lookout.  The effective steward not only recognises these kairos opportunities but has the courage to leap upon them with all his might. And the effective steward has organised his schedule in such a way that leaves him open to seizing these opportunities.

Don’t let your diligence towards chronos choke out your attention to kairos.  Don’t count your years (chronos), make your years count (Kairos).

Are you a horse or a hawk?


[2] Gal 4:4 “But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,”

[3] Eph 5:15-16 “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,  Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”



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