by Michael E. Brooks
“And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:11-14 NKJV).
There are few if any more frequently asked questions than the simple, “What time is it?” We have a constant need to know the time. There are appointments to keep, schedules to maintain, and routines demanding our attention. One constant element of travel is confusion over time. Jet lag changes the body clock, so that I may know it is noon, but my body thinks it is midnight and wants to sleep. Every destination is in a different time zone. Sometimes those are not identified easily so an unexpected change in time zones makes an appointment hard to keep. Then there is the International Date line. The first few times I crossed it I wasn’t sure what month I was in, much less the day and hour. Try flying 8,000 miles and then landing only 1 hour after you took off, on the same day. On top of all this, during the same 3 month long trip I may visit 3 countries each of which follows a separate calendar all differing from that used in the U.S. When I discuss plans and dates with locals I may not recognize either the month or year that they name. Coordination is essential.
As important as it is to keep up with hour, date, month, and year in the physical world, it is far more urgent to keep our spiritual clocks and calendars regulated. The most emphasized date in all Scripture is “The Day of the Lord” (Joel 2:1, 1 Corinthians 1:14, 2 Peter 3:10). Depending upon context that phrase may refer to a day of God’s judgment upon Israel, the first coming of Jesus, or his second coming and the final judgment of the world. More generically it refers to God’s intervention in time. When God orchestrates affairs and fulfills his will upon the earth, it is his day. In Romans 13, Paul affirms Christian faith that we are living in the period of such events. We know it is his time, the time when his will is being done. This should and does alter our approach to life. Just as we speed up when we find we are running late to get to work or to get the children to school, so we change our schedules and priorities upon realizing that “the day is at hand.” Spiritually, what time is it?
It is time to wake up (verse 11). Apathy is the enemy of all good works. We must realize the urgency of the gospel, the great need of fellow humans, and the blessings available to those who serve the Lord. Do not allow procrastination, laziness, or misplaced priorities lull us into inactivity. “How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep?” (Proverbs 6:9). “Laziness casts one into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger” (Proverbs 19:15.
It is time to walk properly. There are near-universal standards of decency, recognized in almost every culture. Some things are inherently shameful, best done in darkness and secrecy. Other deeds deserve honor and approval and are proudly done in broad daylight for all to see. Christians know that all our actions should be of the latter type. God sees all that we do. We live in his day, and thus we must do those things of which he approves.
It is time to put on the Lord Jesus. For some, that involves confessing faith in Jesus, repenting of sin, and putting him on in baptism. For others it may mean a more serious effort to appropriate his Spirit, imitating him in all aspects of life (Ephesians 5:1). “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).
Let there be no confusion about what time it is. It is God’s time, and we are to be his servants.
by Michael E. Brooks