When Paul instructs us in Ephesians 5 to redeem the time, he chooses a particular word to express his concept of time.
It’s not the Greek word chronos, which means measurable or quantifiable time. It’s kairos, which means a season or an opportune time.
“How much time until lunch?” would use chronos. “Is it time for lunch?” would use kairos.
This word choice leads us to a particular understanding of time. Unlike our modern society, Paul views quality as the important factor in time, not necessarily quantity. I’ve written before about how we incorrectly have a chronos mindset where Paul instructs us to have a kairos mindset.
But I think there is also the danger of going to the opposite extreme.
Review of Kairos Mindset
Paul describes our time here on this Earth as a series of opportunities. We don’t want to keep our heads down and focus, focus, work, work – and miss the opportunities around us to serve others or to do good.
The best way to manage your time is not to rigidly schedule and obsess over minutes and seconds. The best way to manage your time is to keep an eye out for the potential around you and then to pounce when the moment is right.
Taken to the Extreme
But sometimes this leads us to think of our lives as only consisting of these special moments – the times to share the gospel, the times to talk with a friend, the times to step up and meet someone’s needs.
We romanticize the value of some uses of our time, and we can soon begin to think of the rest of our time as simply filler in between the events that really matter.
We can go to the opposite extreme and misunderstand exactly what opportunities we have.
Redeeming Our Opportunities
Here’s what’s important:
Every second carries with it an opportunity.
Yes, some opportunities are more valuable than others. Some of our time will present us with unique and worthwhile opportunities.
But every second carries with it some potential, some opportunity.
Redeeming our time, redeeming our kairos time, is not about waiting for those magic, meaningful moments. It’s about tapping the value out of each second.
Kairos Lifestyle Is Not Passive
Some incorrectly apply the kairos time mindset by thinking that it leads to a tranquil passivity. We patiently wait until presented with a particular situation to which we can respond.
But redeeming our kairos time is not about being passive. In fact, being proactive is how we redeem our kairos – it’s how we make the most of every fleeting second that we have.
Sometimes the opportunities that our time presents us with are the opportunities that are made by our proactivity. Sometimes the opportunities are the chances to invest slowly in some project that we’re working on.
And yes, sometimes the value is in recognizing our chance to take a break to share the gospel with someone passing by.
But don’t be fooled – every second has some value. Squeezing the most out of our seconds is not a misguided chronos mindset. It is the mature kairos mindset of Paul.
Photo Credit: Tom Marshall (Creative Commons)
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