TIME: what have you done with it - 4?
Those who want to redeem time, must work hard. They must work extremely hard. Hard work involves the application of one's total self. It often involves the expenditure of energy. There are times when the energy used in a fifteen minutes prayer session could be more than the energy used in another prayer session of three hours. Those who work hard, redeem time. They are able to accomplish in a relatively short time what would take then much longer periods.
The apostle Paul worked hard. He said, "Last of all as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace towards me was not in vain. On the contrary I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is in me" (1 Corinthians 15:8-10). He worked so hard that he, one of the last, became one of the very first. His whole life was one of hard work. He wrote, "Him we proclaim, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom that we may present every man mature in Christ. For this I toil, striving with all the energy which he mightily inspires within me. For I want you to know how greatly I strive for you, and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not seen my face that their hearts may be encouraged as they are knit together in love, to have all the riches of assured understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery of Christ" (Colossians 1:28-29; 2:1-2).
Look at the words that indicated his hard work:
I strive greatly.
He did not only need that which Christ inspired within him but it became necessary for energy to be mightily inspired within him. Because of the extent of his toil, he also reached out to more people and accomplished more in each person. For example, he warned every man and taught every man in all wisdom, aiming at presenting every man mature in Christ. He laboured for those at Colossae, for those at Laodicea and for all who had not seen his face. He laboured that they might be:
- knit together in love,
- have all the riches of assured understanding,
- have all the knowledge of God's mystery in Christ.
Because of extreme hard work, he accomplished in one life what it would have needed ten and perhaps hundreds of consecrated believers to accomplish in the same length of time. He redeemed time.
We must all realize that it is not only the quality of our lives and ministry that will be judged. The quantity of what we have done for the Lord shall also be assessed. Paul did not warn, teach or encourage one, two or three people. He reached out to more people through hard work. We, too, must do the same. We must each ask "What can I do to ensure that all of the gospel is preached, in all the power of the Holy Spirit, to all people on Planet Earth, in such a way that they will hear, understand clearly and fully; repent and yield themselves without any reservation to the Lord Jesus and to His cause?" We must not only ask the question. We must receive an answer from the Lord and we must give ourselves to working for Him, beginning with one person, and by His grace, extending to the five billion people on Planet Earth. We must do it with a great sense of urgency, for the clock of time already points to near midnight!
Yes, we must toil. We must toil in:
visiting and encouraging the brethren
giving to the Lord
all aspects of Christian service.
We must toil with all the energy and not only with some of the energy. It should not only be the energy He inspires. It must be the energy He mightily inspires - mightily inspires because of our great need. We must toil with all that we are and all that we have. We must toil and go to bed totally tired and exhausted. We must so toil that sleep will come to us as soon as we are in bed. (I can hardly remember any time in the last ten years when I went to bed and waited for two minutes before sleep swept me to that condition in which the Lord of heaven renews tired beings!)
Yes, we labour and labour. We toil and toil. We strive and strive. We toil and we strive on behalf of the elect. We toil and strive on behalf of these who are not making progress as rapidly as they should. We labour and toil on behalf of those who are dull of understanding. We labour and toil on behalf of backsliders. We labour and toil and strive on behalf of those who are making good progress so that they might make even better progress. We labour and strive for those in false doctrines. We labour and strive on behalf of those who have not yet found the Lord. We wrestle and wrestle and wrestle. We press on with every ounce of spiritual, soulical and bodily energy. We press on and when we are tired, we yet press on. We come to the end of ourselves, rest a little, and then wake up and keep pressing on.
We do not only strive and toil and labour. We strain. Straining means that we exert ourselves beyond all normal limits. We exert ourselves totally, straining in the spirit, soul, and body. We put in what we are and all that we have to the very last effort possible. We press forward against all the barriers raised by the devil, the flesh and the world. We strain, pressing forward against natural barriers, natural tendencies, institutional barriers, physical barriers, emotional barriers and every conscious or unconscious barrier. We strive, breaking every obstacle that is in the way.
We press on for we have no choice. We must win. We must overcome. We must satisfy the heart of God. We move on knowing that the Victor has won and therefore we must win.
Someone may say, "Is it by works and no longer by grace?" We answer that it is all by grace. We have received abundant grace to strive superabundantly for the interests of the Lord of grace. The mighty work that has been done in us stirs us to stir and set aflame everything in us and everything through us, to His advantage and glory. The apostle Paul said that he did not receive the grace of God in vain. We, too, refuse to receive it in vain. In order not to do so, we redeem time in everything and in every way and at all times by labouring, toiling, striving and straining. We do it for His glory. We do it only for Him and for His glory. Amen.
(From the book The Use of Time Part 2 pg 24)