Colossians 4:5
Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Consider -

I. THE PERSONS WHO ARE TO BE INFLUENCED BY OUR WALK, "Them that are without." Christians are those who are within (1 Corinthians 5:12). Unbelievers arc "without" - outside the Church, without God, without Christ, without hope in the world. They are those whom "God judgeth" (1 Corinthians 5:13). Believers ought to have regard to such persons, not only in their prayers, but in the wisdom of their personal walk.


1. It is a wise walk. "Be ye wise as serpents" (Matthew 10:16). Zeal is not enough. Love is not enough. Walk circumspectly, so as to give no offence or put occasions of reproach in the way of sinners. This is done by believers

(1) walking in the light of God's Word (Psalm 119:1);

(2) walking in all faithfulness of their calling (1 Thessalonians 4:11, 12; 1 Timothy 6:1);

(3) walking in love to one another, without murmurings or disputings (Philippians 2:15, 19);

(4) walking in meekness toward all men (Titus 3:1, 2; James 3:13);

(5) walking in all patience and constancy under rebuke or injury (1 Peter 3:13-16).

2. Such a walk is influential toward unbelievers.

(1) A believer ought to be more careful of his walk before them than before believers.

(2) Such a walk has a winning effect upon the world, which thus sees the reality of true religion. Believers are to be" living epistles of Christ, known and read of all men" (2 Corinthians 3:3).

(3) A foolish walk will cause the enemy to blaspheme.

3. Believers ought to seek constant opportunities of obeying this command. "Redeeming the time." External opportunities are to be sought for, and never to be neglected. Ministers must preach while the door is open; people must pray at every opportunity (Ephesians 6:18; Luke 21:36). They must walk in the light before the night comes. The times may not always be favourable. - T.C.

Walk in wisdom towards them that are without.
The conduct of life is to be regulated —


1. Religion is a life. "Walk."

2. Religion is a life shaped and controlled by the highest wisdom. "Walk in wisdom."

3. Religion is a life that should be instructive to the irreligious. "Toward them that are without."

4. Religion is a life that impels the seizure of every opportunity for good-doing. "Redeeming the time " — buying up the opportunities. Opportunity is the flower of time which blooms for a moment and is gone for ever.


1. Christian speech should be gracious. "Let your speech be alway with grace."

2. Christian speech should be piquant. "Seasoned with salt."

3. Christian speech should be practical. "That ye may know how ye ought to answer every man."

(G. Barlow.)

The Church sojourns for the most part amidst people of another profession. Whole nations have shut the door against Christ. In so-called Christian nations vast multitudes are non-Christian. Even in private families there is this partition. Hence the apostle having regulated the duties of Christians among themselves now points out those toward aliens.


1. We are to walk wisely; not that we are to walk foolishly amongst ourselves. But as when a soldier is in an enemy's country he stands much more on his guard, and as we use more ceremony towards strangers than friends; so we are to be more careful before the world than the Church.(1) The end in view is to win them to Christ, or to prevent, at least, their taking offence at religion when in our accidental encounters or our deliberate designs. In our converse as civil subjects with foreigners it would not be suffered us to attempt to withdraw them from their allegiance, but as subjects of Christ our main duty is to rescue the slaves of Satan the common enemy.(2) In pursuing this end the diversity of the persons has to be carefully considered, their different conditions and capacities. The same things do not suit all, and all are not averse to religion, and while there are those who are of a furious disposition, there are those who are sweet and tractable. The Master (Matthew 7:6) urges this wise discrimination, and intimates the disastrous consequences of the want of it, which experience also confirms. But we are to love all alike, while we treat them differently (Matthew 5:44).(3) The choice of means.(a) Christian wisdom excludes all actions contrary to piety, which are quite contrary to the end in view as well as offensive to God, conscience, and our neighbour, repelling from instead of attracting men to Christ (2 Samuel 12:14; Romans 2:23-24; 1 Timothy 6:1; 2 Corinthians 6:3; Titus 2:10).(b) We owe those that are without not only abstinence from evil, but the performance of what is good (Romans 13:7-8). God forbid that we should ever allow the conceit that it is lawful to break promises with them or deceive them. God will not be served with unrighteousness and treachery. Dues must be rendered too, not from fear, but for conscience sake.(c) But we are not only to yield what they can rightly claim, but humanity, courtesy, assistance, as often as, and even before they ask, and thus imitate Him who blesses both the just and the unjust. Account any one your neighbour, even if a Samaritan or pagan. By this at least you will prevent him calumniating your religion.(d) We must accommodate ourselves as far as piety will admit; not needlessly opposing them, nay, willingly yielding our rights and conforming ourselves to their wills in things indifferent, that they may see that our piety is not founded on capriciousness (1 Corinthians 9:19-22; cf. 2 Corinthians 6:14-15).(e) We must also avoid all actions or speeches likely to annoy.

2. Redeeming the time contains the utility and fruit of this wise demeanour (Daniel 2:8; Ephesians 5:15-16). As a wise mariner when the wind arises, and the waters threaten, and the presages of a tempest appear, hauls in his sails and prepares for the storm, then, accommodating himself to the violence of the waves, lets drive a little, not daring to bear up full against it, all to gain time and redeem himself by such care and conduct out of so sad and angry a season; so Paul would have us use the same industry to ward off the blows which are menaced by the unfavourable disposition towards us of those without.


1. This is necessary (1 Peter 3:15). This is the most tender part of our converse with men, and should be managed with the greatest exactness. An answer here is capable of amending or impairing the condition of a whole Christian people. Wise and moderate discourse has sometimes averted or stayed persecution; whereas indiscreet, although true, speech has mightily troubled the peace of the Church. How needful, then, that our speech should be with grace.

2. The qualities.(1) Truth is presupposed (Ephesians 4:25).(2) Grace is not rhetorical embellishment, but speech without gall, venom, and virulency, and so managed as not to offend.(3) Well salted, i.e., seasoned with prudence; for as salt dessicates meat and eats out the moisture and putrid humour, leaving a sharpness pleasing to the taste, so Christian prudence works out all that is noxious from speech and tempers it in such a manner that the vigour it leaves pleases the spirit.

3. The use — that it may appear that we know how to answer every one.(1) Paul's calling our discourses an answering intimates that we should not speak without judgment and deliberation.(2) We ought to diversify our speech according to the difference of persons. The dispositions of some require firmness and freedom, those of others tenderness.

(J. Daille.)

Christ's mission was to outsiders: so was His commission to His disciples. This holds good now. Every one who enters the Church enters not only into a peculiar relation with Christ, but with the world also. "Let your light so shine," etc. Outsiders watch us sharply, and Christ intended they should. The Christian is the only Bible the great majority ever look at; then we ought to live as to require no commentary to explain us. We are doorkeepers to the way of life not to block the way but to let others in.


1. So as not to give the lie to our professions. We tell the uncon verted that Christianity will make them cheerful under trials; do we fret under them? We talk about patience; do we lose temper under the first provocation? In the prayer-meeting we pray as though religion were the one thing needful: are social ambition or money-grabbing the chief end of our lives outside? If in walking through an orchard we pick up a fair-looking apple, but on putting our teeth to it find it sour, we fling it away; so we are known by our fruits. Very few are made infidels by pernicious books, but many are by inconsistent Christians. On the other hand, a noble, godly life is the most convincing of sermons.

2. We can never win outsiders by compromising with them. The people of the world do not expect us to live as they do; and when we surrender our principles they are secretly disgusted. To draw men out of a pit we must have a firm, strong foothold or they will draw us in. He who walks closest to Christ will have most converting power.

3. The subject has a vital connection with direct efforts for the conversion of men. "He that is wise winneth souls." How little common sense many employ in trying to bring their children, scholars, or friends to the Saviour. A father asks people to pray for his boy, and then treats him so as to harden him. Some people badger their children with ill-timed or tempered talk about their souls. And yet nothing requires more tact and gentleness. If we want to water a flower we do not dash a pailful over it, but sprinkle it. God does not send His Spirit as a waterspout, but as rain. Paul was consumed with zeal, yet showed wonderful sagacity in adaptation.

II. WATCH FOR OPPORTUNITIES. "Redeeming the time." Chances must be sought for putting in the right word, and when God sends it we must make the most of it. We must go on the principle of now or never. This will make us eager to embrace opportunities; and in turn we must urge the undecided to embrace Christ at once. Every act of kindness to the unconverted will help us.

(T. L. Cuyler, D. D.)

Though evil men are not to be the subjects of the Christian's choice, yet he must sometimes fall into their company or go out of the world (1 Corinthians 5:10). Civil commerce with them is lawful, though friendship be sinful. Christianity must help us as a glass window to let in the light but keep out the rain. The apostle gives us a special precept for our pious carriage among ungodly men.

I. THE QUALIFICATION OF THE ACT — "Walk wisely." He who walketh according to the rule of the Word is a wise walker (Job 28:28; Psalm 119:1; Galatians 6:16). We must walk by precept, not by pattern: he may be a good courtier but a bad Christian who suits his conduct to his company. If, like musicians, we play no lessons but what the company calls for, our music will be jarring in the ears of God (Galatians 1:10).

II. THE SPECIFICATION OF THE SUBJECT. Wicked men are said to be without.

1. Because visible without the Church (1 Corinthians 5:12-13).

2. Really without God and Christ (Ephesians 2:12).

3. Eventually without heaven (Revelation 22:15; Luke 13:25).


1. Evil company is infectious (Psalm 106:35).

2. See that when compelled to mingle with it that thou get good from it: let it show thee the importance of wisdom and watchfulness.


1. Keep thyself unspotted from sin. Wicked men, as dyers and painters, are besmeared themselves and besmear others. The saint should resemble the carbuncle, which being cast in the fire, shines all the brighter. Rust will fret into the hardest steel, but not into the emerald. Thy duty is, as clothes well dyed, to keep thy colour in all weathers; and, as a good constitution, to retain thy health in the most unwholesome vapours.

2. Do not needlessly expose thyself to suffering. Christ did not commit himself to the Jews, because He knew their hearts. Set a watch before thy tongue lest it prove thy sepulchre (Ecclesiastes 3:7; Amos 5:13). Thy care must be always to own Christ, but as thy policy should not eat up thy zeal neither should thy zeal thy wisdom. Zeal to a Christian is like the high wind filling the sails of a ship, which unless it be ballasted with discretion doth but the sooner overturn it.

3. Be sure thou dost not deny Christ and disown thy profession. Though it behoveth thee to walk wisely, because sinners lie in wait to destroy thy life, yet be careful not to walk wickedly, for sin lieth in wait to destroy thy soul. The light of religion ought not to be carried in a dark lantern, and only shown when interest permits (Matthew 10:33; 2 Kings 17:41; Nehemiah 13:24).

4. Labour to get some good by such as are evil. A gracious person may improve the vilest sinner's company to his own spiritual profit.(1) Let thy zeal be more inflamed (Psalm 119:39, 127).(2) Let thy heart be more enlarged in thankfulness that Christ hath saved thee.(3) Thy care and watchfulness should be increased. The falls of others should be sea-marks for warning to avoid those rocks and shallows if thou wouldest avoid shipwreck (1 Corinthians 10:6, 16).

5. Endeavour their reformation. Thy duty as a good physician is to loathe the noisome disease, but to pity and strive to recover the patient. Thy Father doth good to all; remember thou are His son and copy Him. Christ never sat at table with sinners but He made better cheer than He found. Be not discouraged at the weakness of thy gifts, but consider that the event depends upon Him who set thee at work, and that it is all one to Him whether thou hast great, small, or no means. A fly may hinder an elephant from sleeping. A little boat may land a man on a large continent. Endeavour to reform them.(1) By wholesome counsel. There is a special art in baiting the hook aright, so as thou mayest take sinners ere they are aware (2 Corinthians 12:16). When amongst moral men commend morality, yet discover its insufficiency, and so cause them to run to Christ for help (Matthew 5:20). When amongst the profane bring in wisely an instance of God's judgments. Sometimes conversation on earthly subjects may be turned "by degrees into heavenly. Do they ask, "What news?" After prudent preface say that thou canst tell them good news from a far country — Christ Jesus came to save sinners. Do they ask how such and such do? Acquaint them of their worldly welfare, and, if convenient, of the health of their soul. Do they ask the price of commodities? Raise their heart to the wine and milk to be had without money, etc. This is true alchemy and will turn all to gold. See our Lord's example (Matthew 15:20; John 4:21; John 6:25-27).(2) By thy gracious carriage in their company. A Christian is God's jewel (Malachi 3:17), and should always cast a radiancy before the eyes of others (Philippians 2:15; Titus 2:7, 8); 1 Peter 3:15, 16). Grace powerfully but silently opposes wickedness, and forces reverence from its bitterest enemies. The righteousness of Noah condemned the old world; the holiness of John gained respect from Herod; the sanctity of the three worthies triumphed in the conscience of Nebuchadnezzar, and the innocence of Daniel in the soul of Darius (1 Peter 2:11-12).(3) By faithful reprehension; but —(a) Be sure the thing thou reprovest be a sin. Some show much heat but little holiness in making a great stir about nothing (Joshua 22:16; Samuel 2). It is dangerous to apply medicines on the bare supposition of sickness. Then, again, he that reproves the deed will do more harm than good if he is not able to convince the doer (Titus 1:9; Job 6:25). Mistaken or misapplied arguments seldom reprove any but the arguer, and him they always reprove.(b) Reprove seriously. Reproof is an edged tool and must not be jested with. Cold reproofs are like the noise of cannons a great way off. He that reproves sin merrily and makes the company laugh will destroy the sinner instead of his sin. Some men shoot their reprehensions, like pellets through a pipe, with no more strength than would kill a sparrow. He that would hit the mark must draw his arrow of reproof home. The hammer of the word breaks not the heart if it be laid lightly on. Be the reproof never so gracious, and the plaster never so good, it will be ineffectual if not applied to the patient himself (2 Samuel 12:7; Acts 2:36-37).(c) Reprove seasonably. It is not necessary and convenient at all seasons. The best medicine will be thrown away if given at an unfit time. A fool will always be talking, but a wise man will keep a word for afterward (Proverbs 29.). Small fish are twitched up with the violence of a sudden pull, when the like action would break the line whereon a great one hangs. Fabius conquered by delaying, but Caesar overcame by expedition.(d) Reprove prudently (Proverbs 25:12). Every mountebank is not fit for this office. Have respect to the quality of the person. Superiors must be amended, by exhortation, equals by friendly admonition, inferiors by gentle reproof. Have respect also to the disposition of the offender. Some in their fainting fits are recovered easily with sprinkling cold water on their faces, others must be rubbed hard. Some men are like briars, and have to be handled gently; others, like nettles, have to be dealt with roughly (Jude 1:22, 23). The sturdy oak will not be so easily bent as the gentle willow. Respect also is to be had to faults. Wise physicians will distinguish between a pimple and a plague sore. Who would give so great a blow to kill a fly as to kill an ox?(e) Reprove compassionately. The iron of Asher's shoes were dipped in oil. Reproofs should be as ointments gently rubbed in by the warm fire of love. The reprover should have a lion's stout heart if he would be faithful, and a lady's soft hand, or he is not likely to be successful. He that would gather fruit must pluck the bough gently towards him; if too hard he may break it.

6. Mourn for the sins thou canst not amend (Psalm 119:135; 2 Peter 2:8).

(G. Swinnock, M. A.)

Those who are within are those who have "fled for refuge" to Christ, and are within the fold, the fortress, the ark. Men who sit safe within while the storm howls, may simply think with selfish complacency of those exposed to its fierceness. The phrase may express spiritual pride and even contempt. All close corporations tend to generate dislike and scorn of outsiders, and the Church has had its own share of such feeling; but there is no trace of anything of the sort here. Rather is there pathos and pity in the world, and a recognition that their sad condition gives these outsiders a claim on Christian men, who are bound to go out to their help to bring them in. Precisely because they are "without" do those within owe them a wise walk, that "if any will not hear the Word, they may without the Word be won." We owe them such a walk as may tend to bring them in, and if our walk does not seem to them very attractive, small wonder if they prefer to remain where they are. Let us take care lest instead of being door-keepers to the house of the Lord, to beckon passers-by and draw them in, we block the doorway, and keep them from seeing the wonders within.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

"Toward them that are without," whatever their conduct, appearance, profession, we must "walk in wisdom." They may be within the circle of our acquaintance, and of our own household. While we feel that between us and the fellow Christian who was but yesterday a stranger a bond stronger than death, between us and the object of our warmest human love there is a wall of separation. To such and all "without" —

I. DO YOUR DUTY — your daily duty, especially in little things, faithfully. Do what is right for you as a man; and what is right for you as a man is doubly right for you as a Christian. And you are doubly in the wrong if you as a Christian man are not scrupulously honest, if you give way to rudeness, irritability, vulgarity, selfishness.

II. Love THEM — not simply their souls. We do not read of God and Christ loving people's souls. God loved the world; Christ tasted death for every man. Be human. There is no opposition between manhood and holiness. The Holy One revealed Himself to sinners as the Son of Man, one of themselves: and this was the secret of His power.

III. BE NATURAL — yourselves. Do not have a Christian face and voice taking the place of your own. Speak plainly. Christians are often charged with affectation. Unnaturalness does not come from having too much religion, but from not having enough. What could be more natural than the words and ways of Christ?

IV. BE TRUE — not simply do not tell lies, but be transparent. Let men be able to see through you, to perceive that there is no guile, no hidden motives, that while you profess to love God supremely you are not loving something else more than God.

V. BE HUMBLE. Christ was meek and lowly of heart"; and what ought we to be? Be humble under a sense of your sinfulness, and under the weight of God's mercies. Do not try to impress others with your superiority, or you will make the contrary impression.

VI. BE HOLY. Avoid the least appearance of evil. Let it be seen from your conduct that your religion is not a matter of theory, emotion, talk, but a matter of fact. Remember what Peter says to wives who have unbelieving husbands. A young man was asked, "Under whose preaching were you converted? Under my aunt's practice," was the reply. VII. BE HAPPY. If there is sunshine on your countenances others will believe that the Sun of Righteousness is in your hearts. But if we speak about that Sun and they never see anything but darkness and gloom they will not believe. VIII. BE KIND. Do not simply love them; show it in common or rather uncommon kindness. Treat men as Christ treated you. He never put on airs. Remember how he treated Zacchaeus, the woman of Samaria, etc.

(A. Monod, D. D.)

There was an infidel who was dangerously ill, and a colporteur went to see him. The man would not receive him, and asked him never to come again. The colporteur, after a few words, left the house, but he noticed that the man was very poor. There seemed to be none of the things necessary to health about his home. What did the colporteur do? He did not go and write an address about charity, but he went to the grocer's and he sent provisions to the man. A little time after, he went again. He was well received. The man said, "If you please, sir, was it you who sent those provisions?" "Well, yes, it was; but do not let us talk about that." "It was very kind of you. I treated you with so much discourtesy, and you were so good to me! My unbelieving friends, who profess to love me, have not done anything for me, but here you have sent me these provisions. Please read me something out of your Book." He read to him, and visited him again and again. Before that man died he was brought to a knowledge of Christ. The work had been begun by an act of kindness. Pastor Funcke, of Bremen, went to see a working-man, whom he describes as a tall, strong man, with a red beard, living in a miserable little place, up a flight of rickety stairs. The man would not listen to him at all, but flew into a passion, saying: "I don't want to hear anything about your God. I don't believe there is a God." Then, clenching his fist, he said, "This is my god!" and bringing it down on the table with a thump, he added: "If ever I find you on these premises again, I will put my god into your face!" The pastor went away, but a few days later, hearing that the man was out of employment, he busied himself in finding a situation for him. By-and-by the man heard of this. He went to him and said, "Is it true, sir, that you took the trouble to find me this employment?" "Why, yes, it is true." "Well," he said, "all Christians are not hypocrites!" That was, to him, a discovery, it seems. He invited the pastor to his house, and listened to him. "And now," says Mr. Funeke, "he, his wife, and children, are amongst the best of my church members, and theirs is one of the happiest homes in the parish." Surely, this was "walking in wisdom toward them that are without." Now I will give you a fact of another kind, that will, perhaps, meet some of our own difficulties. It was told me by the sister of the young man of whom I am about to speak. He had a pious father. They lived in a large town. One day he asked his father if he might go to the theatre. As he was no longer a mere boy, of course the father could not prevent him from going. "You know I disapprove of these things," he said; "I think it will do you harm; but, of course, I cannot forbid you to go." Well, the young man felt rather uncomfortable; however, he went. He came home late (it was a winter night), just expecting to grope his way to his room. But he found a lighted lamp, a bright fire, and something warm to eat and drink. His father did not wait for him, and that was also wise; it would have seemed as if he had watched for his return to lecture him. No; but he had made ready a welcome for him. What effect did that have? It had the effect of drawing that son's heart toward his father more than anything else could have done, and of greatly diminishing, to say the least of it, his taste for the theatre. This much I know, that he became a faithful disciple of Christ, and was about to enter the ministry, when God took him to Himself, several years ago.

(A. Monod, D. D.)

Take a lesson from —

I. THE MERCHANT. How he redeems the time; by wise employment of capital, by sedulous attention to his business, by sagacious plans, watchfulness for openings, and correct balancing of his affairs from time to time. Here is an example for the Christian, who should augment and employ his spiritual capital of gifts and graces, by industry, intelligence, and self-denial, and know exactly how his soul stands with God.

II. THE FARMER. Nots his knowledge and thrifty management of his stock and crops. How carefully he prepares the ground at the proper season, then sows the seed, then removes all obstructions from the soil, reaps and garners the harvest, and finally seeks the best market to sell it in. Where would the farmer be but for his constant and habitual redemption of time. The Christian should act like him in regard to the Divine seed-wheat in his own mind or that of others (Ecclesiastes 11:6; Isaiah 32:20; Psalm 126:6).

III. THE STUDENT, PHILOSOPHER, AND STATESMAN. No man ever rose to eminence who did not wisely employ his time. The student economizes every moment and never tires in his researches. The philosopher tests by science and reason the mysteries of nature, omitting no opportunity or detail. And thus the statesman studies the complicated problems of politics and provides for their solution in season and out. And so the Christian student, the eyes of whose understanding are opened, ponders Divine truth. The Christian philosopher here learns the origin, nature, and end of all things. And the Christian, being a statesman, too, feeds on schemes of advancement for the kingdom of God. But in each capacity he needs to redeem the time; and if any day passes without embracing some opportunity for learning new truth, or doing some fresh good, he should feel with that Roman Emperor who said, "I have lost a day."

(J. G. Angley, M. A.)

The wheels of nature are not made to roll backward; everything presses on towards eternity; from the birth of time, an impetuous current has set in, which bears all the sons of men towards that interminable ocean. Meanwhile, heaven is attracting to itself whatever is congenial to its nature, is enriching itself by the spoils of earth, and collecting within its capacious bosom whatever is pure, permanent, and Divine, leaving nothing for the last fire to consume but the objects and the slaves of concupiscence; while everything which grace has prepared and beautified shall be gathered, from the ruins of the world, to adorn the eternal city, "which hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for the glory of God doth enlighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." Let us obey the voice that calls us thither, let us seek the things that are above, and no longer cleave to a world which must shortly perish, and which we must shortly quit, while we neglect to prepare for that in which we are invited to dwell for ever.

(Robert Hall.)

I. THE IMPORTANCE OF TIME. This may be inferred from the names given it in Scripture — "The day of salvation," "The acceptable year of the Lord," "An appointed time." It is the season in which alone the business of religion can be transacted. Those advise badly who say "there is time enough yet," for who knows what a day may bring forth. It may be longer or shorter, but the day of salvation, like any other, is limited, and must soon come to an end.

II. THE RAPIDITY OF THE FLIGHT OF TIME. "Time and tide wait for no man." The little we have on hand is all we have, and even this short space is hurrying on so fast that to catch it is like dipping your hand in a running stream which glides through the fingers that would detain it. The Egyptians represented it as a serpent creeping on silently and gliding away imperceptibly. And yet there are those who act as though it had no assignable limit.

III. THE LARGE PORTION OF OUR TIME LOST. The season of boyhood — much of which was wasted in indolence; the season of youth — much of which was simply dissipated; the season of riper years — how much of that is being lost in the pursuit of shadows. Some misspend time because they have no proper object to engage their attention. How many fashionable people there are who are quite at a loss what to make of themselves. Others lose much time in mere delays and in expecting what will never come.


1. Misspend no more. Treasure up scraps of time. He who is prodigal of a minute spends far above his estate.

2. Rise early.

3. Husband your time well during the day.

(T. Watson, B. A.)

I. What is time?(1) Measured duration. Hours, days, etc., are measured by periodical revolutions.(2) Successive duration — past, present, to come.(3) Limited duration. Time was not, began, will cease.

2. Time is distinguished from eternity — which is absolute duration, without measure, etc.

3. But time in the text is rather special seasons and opportunities.

4. To redeem(1) in the common notion is to recover by some valuable consideration what has been forfeited — property, liberty, yea, our souls, by the precious blood of Christ. This cannot apply to time, because no consideration can recover the smallest portion of it when once gone.(2) In a moral sense we may redeem it by a careful, prayerful, religious improvement of what remains. Time ought to be improved because —

I. ITS VALUE IS INEXPRESSIBLE. We argue the worth of it —

1. From the great business of it.(1) As regards self. Were man a mere animated piece of flesh and blood he would have some plausibility for saying "Let us eat and drink," etc. But he is a rational, immortal, and accountable being, and the great business of time is to get ready for eternity. It is not necessary that we should be rich, great, honourable; but it is necessary that we should be saved. "What shall it profit," etc.(2) But we are not alone, and therefore our great business is not only to get but to do good; not only to work out our own salvation, but to promote that of others.

2. From the price of time. When man sinned all was lost, time included, but the forfeited blessing comes back through the death of Christ.

3. From the manner in which providence allots us time. Common things may be obtained in large quantities. Not so things that are precious — a grain of gold, e.g. So time is not dealt out in large portions. No man receives a year at once, only a moment. How should that moment, then, be improved.

4. Shall we consult the wise, great, and good on this subject. Moses (Psalm 90.): Solomon, "Remember now thy Creator; Christ, "I must work," etc.; that Pagan prince who, when a day had passed without a good deed, exclaimed, "I have lost a day."

5. Ask death-beds. "Doctor," said a dying man, "the whole of my estate for half-an-hour," but no, the whole of his estate could not purchase half a moment.

6. Travel to the regions of sorrow and despair. How would they hail a second probation I They had time, they abused it; their time is gone.

7. Travel to the mansions of light. The spirits of just men made perfect are there, because they redeemed the time for the purpose of preparing for eternity.


1. How frequently we express ourselves incorrectly on this subject. A man who has been unwell for a few weeks says he has been ill a long time. But no portion of time is long in reference to eternity. There is some comparison between an atom and the globe, because the globe only contains so many atoms, but there can be no comparison between the little atom of time and unmeasurable eternity.

2. If time be short comparatively, what is the time of our life. "The time is short." How short. Before the flood some lived nearly one thousand years. After the flood there was a reduction. By the time of Moses the period was seventy or eighty. How few reach even that now. A friend of mine once ascertained the average age of persons buried in a country churchyard; it was fourteen years. Our life is but "a step between us and death"; "a hand-breadth"; "a weaver's shuttle"; "grass"; "a vapour." Then we have not a moment to waste.


1. The morning of life has gone with many of us. Prize the morning of life, young people! It is the best part of the day. If it be wasted we have but little hope of subsequent periods. "In the morning sow thy seed." When it was morning with many of us how impatient we were to have it noon and be men.

2. Noon has come and gone, and it seems only yesterday that we were young.

3. Some are in the evening, the last mile-stone is in view, the taper must soon expire, and the hour-glass run out. A man may regain lost health, wealth, friends, but never time. Then how we ought to redeem what remains.

IV. WHAT REMAINS IS UNCERTAIN. We can ascertain how much has been expended, not what is left. The rich fool talked of years. God did not talk of a single day. "This night." How numerous are sudden deaths. "Lord, teach us to number our days."

V. NOTHING CAN COMPENSATE FOR THE LOSS OF TIME. A wise man will part with nothing except for its value, yet many part with time for nothing.

1. For folly, vanity, vice — time-consumers, time-killers.

2. For any kind of amusement-seeking customers to take it off their hands.

3. For business, at the expense of the true riches.

4. For honour, at the expense of heaven's patent of nobility. But none of us are absolutely bankrupt. Time remains — redeem it.

VI. ODD HAS MADE ETERNITY TO DEPEND ON TIME. What an awful thing, then, to live. "Infinite joy or endless woe attends on every breath."

(Robert Newton, D. D.)

The word here translated "redeem" literally means to purchase in the market, and is quite different from the theological term, which means to re-purchase. Time is thus presented to us as a precious commodity.


1. On the mode in which we employ our time our everlasting destiny depends. One of the plainest principles of commerce is that any commodity is desirable in proportion to the returns it is capable of securing. The same principle applies here. The everlasting consequences which flow from it give to time transcendent value. Were it not for these we might say, "Let us eat and drink," etc. Just as a merchant, then, is most anxious about a profitable bargain so ought we to be about redeeming the time.

2. Time is short and uncertain. In commerce the rarity of an article enhances its value, and should any doubt exist as to another opportunity for procuring it the merchant is proportionably anxious to obtain it without delay. Had we for certain a considerable period to live in our neglect might be excused; but as it is we are bad spiritual merchants if we fail to redeem the time.

3. Unless you check the progress of sin now it will become every day more difficult, and eventually become impossible. What merchant would allow an unprofitable line of business to lengthen out as men do the life of sin. He stops promptly, lest by delay all chance of retrieving his fortune should be gone.


1. Have a plan or system for the distribution of time. Every man of business knows the importance of pre-arrangement and method. How much more so is this on which hang such infinite issues. In your plan set aside time for devotion.

2. Beware of those things which rob you of the best portion of it.


(2)Undue devotion to matters of subordinate importance.

(3)Overdone amusements.

3. Watch for and improve those occasions in which you can best promote not only your own eternal interests but those of others, and particularly of your family.

4. Accustom yourselves to serious and impartial self-examination. Take stock as men of business do.

(P. Grant.)

If this year is to be more valuable than the last, we must more carefully attend to the use of our time.

I. WHEN to use time rightly.

1. Now. The present moment is a king in disguise.

2. While it is ours. The past is a memory; the future, an undivided inheritance.

3. The present is the only moment which can be used.

II. How to use time rightly.

1. By a circumspect walk.

2. By wisdom in its employment.

3. By helpful recreation. Avoid the two extremes of overwork and no work.

4. By the redemption of every fleeting moment. Take care of the seconds, and the hours will take care of themselves. Devote it all to God.

III. WHY should we use time rightly?

1. Because of its value. The destiny of eternity hangs upon a moment of time.

2. The time is short.

3. When lost it can never be redeemed.

4. All that we have to do must be done quickly.

5. We shall have to account for our time.


1. We shall make the most of time, if we work in it with zeal and diligence.

2. We should see to it that we are unreprovable in its use and in our work and recreation.

3. We should seek out, and not merely wait for, time in which to benefit others, or reprove the evils of our day. John the Baptist reproved Herod at the cost of his head; Jesus freely gave Himself for us all, and the disciples devoted their whole lifetime to teaching, preaching, exhorting, and re proving.

4. We should learn to be more faithful in the use of the present, because so much of the past has run to waste.

5. Avoid procrastination and building air castles.

6. Daily examine what use you have made of your time.

V. ILLUSTRATIVE SCRIPTURES. Ecclesiastes 8:5; Ecclesiastes 9:10; Ecclesiastes 12:1; Romans 12:11; 1 Corinthians 7:29; 2 Corinthians 6:2; Galatians 6:10; Ephesians 6:13; Colossians 4:5; James 4:13-15; 1 Peter 1:17; Revelation 22:20.

(L. O. Thompson.)

The value set on time by the Duke of Wel lington was one of his most marked characteristics. He once wrote to Dr. Hutton for information as to the scientific acquirements of a young officer who had been under his instructions. The doctor thought he could not do less than answer the question verbally, and made an appointment accordingly. Directly the Duke saw him he said, "I am obliged to you, doctor, for the trouble you have taken. Is — fit for the post?" Clearing his throat Dr. Hutton began, "No man more so; I can —" "That's quite sufficient," said Wellington, "I know how valuable your time is; mine just now is equally so. I will not detain you any longer. Good-morning." On another occasion he made an appointment with a civic dignitary who was five minutes late, and on finding the Duke watch in hand and very angry, pleaded, "It is only five minutes, your grace." "Only five minutes!" he replied, "five minutes unpunctuality would have before now lost me a battle." Next time the magnate took care, as he thought, to be on the safe side. When the Duke appeared he greeted him rather triumphantly. "You see, your grace, I was five minutes before you this time." "Shows how little you know time's value," said the old Field Marshal, "I am here to the moment. I cannot afford to waste five minutes."

An American clergyman in the early part of his ministry, being in London, called upon the late Matthew Wilks. He received him with courtesy, and entered into conversation, which was kept up briskly, till the most important religious intelligence in possession of each was imparted. Suddenly there was a pause; it was broken by Mr. Wilks. "Have you anything more to communicate?" "No, nothing of special interest." "Any further inquiries to make?" "None." "Then you must leave me; I have my Master's business to attend to. Good-morning," "Here," says the minister, "I received a lesson on the impropriety of intrusion, and the most manly method of preventing it."

(W. Baxendale.)

The diligence of Mr. Wesley in redeeming time has often been noticed; but it is scarcely possible for those who were not intimate with him to have a just idea of his faithfulness in this respect. In many things he was gentle and easy to be entreated; in this, decided and inexorable. One day his chaise was delayed beyond the appointed time He had put up his papers and left the apartment. While waiting at the door he was heard to say, "I have lost ten minutes for ever."

(W. Baxendale.)

If we were to see a woodman felling eight large trees in a forest every week, or four hundred every year, we should some of us say, "What a pity!" yet in one large steam sawing-mill, visited by Mr. Mayhew, that was just the number employed to make lucifer matches, 1,123,200,000 matches were made in one year out of the above 400 trees! This may remind one of the remark of Howe, "What a folly it is to dread the thought of throwing away one's life at once, and yet to have no regard for throwing it away by parcels and piecemeal!"


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