As a devoted fan of all things “Star Trek,” my Trekkie sense was activated by something in the New English Translation of the New Testament of the Bible.
In “Star Trek: Generations,” a character said, “They say time is the fire in which we burn…” The line was based from a poem entitled “Calmly We Walk Through This April’s Day.” The character was in a hurry to get back into a part of the universe he really liked. Of course, the movies are make-believe things. The truth is quite opposite that. Time is valuable and filled with opportunities.
In the NET of Colossians 4:5, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunities.” A case can be made that the entire context of the passage of Colossians 4:2-5 means the same thing.
The apostle began by discussing time in prayer. “Be devoted to prayer,” he wrote. To be devoted to prayer, one must engage in the practice, and that takes time. The reason why many people don’t pray is because it takes time. In this old world, where considerable time is devoted to the things that are seen, people often chide themselves and others for spending (what they consider) to0 much time with the unseen. So, few people are devoted to prayer.
There is an interesting word here. In verse two, Paul writes a word used in Mark 3:9. In that verse, the boat used by Jesus was supposed to remain tied up, so that when the Master needed it, it would be there. The original language of the New Testament uses this word in Colossians 4:2, “Continue steadfastly.” We are tied to Christ by virtue of having been washed in his blood. When the Master needs us, shouldn’t we “continue steadfastly?”
Then, in verse 3, Paul asks his readers at the same time they’re devoted to prayer they should pray for his efforts, that God will “open a door” to the preaching of the gospel. This brings an excellent point to the fore. Are we praying God for more opportunities to preach the gospel? If we’re having difficulties finding people to teach, are we praying that God may send us some opportunities and people with which to share the gospel?
But, this idea of “redeeming the time” as the King James puts it has always been a favorite verse of mine. A.T. Robertson, the great Greek lexicographer wrote, “We all have the same amount of time. Paul goes to the market and buys it up by using it rightly.” That’s a pretty good explanation of what the phrase means. William Barclay wrote, “Buy up every opportunity.”
As Randal Matheny wrote in his contribution today on “The Fellowship Room,” we should be careful how we’re using our time, and make certain every opportunity to preach the gospel is taken so that we’ll get more and more opportunities to preach and teach. As Robertson said, we all have the same time. What we do with that time determines how much more we’ll be allowed to do in this life.