Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

Redeeming the Time

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"See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be unwise but understand what the Will of the Lord is" (Ephesians 5:15-17).

With the blessing of yet another Coptic New Year approaching, each one of us should consider the importance and meaning of "redeeming the time". St. Paul specifically preaches about the importance of continually walking in God's Will, guarding against all manner of evil. Christians do not dispute God's creation of the world as being good, but rather man created ungodliness within it as evil.

To walk within the Will of God darkness and light must be separated with The Light prevailing and developing a distinctive spirit in us avoiding the falseness of the world. Each person should spiritually strive to redeem the time in submission to the Lord Jesus Christ. By keeping ourselves within the Godliness of God, we can separate from the evilness of the world and walk in His Holy Will.

"The one peaceful and trustworthy tranquility, the one solid, firm, and constant security is this: for a man to withdraw from this whirlpool of a distracting world and to lift his eyes from earth to Heaven, anchored on the ground of the harbor of salvationHe who is actually greater than the world can crave nothing or desire nothing from the world. How stable, how free from shocks is that safeguard. How be loosed from the snares of this entangling world and to be purged from earthly dregs and be fitted for the light of eternal immortality" (Cyprian, c. 250).

How can we "redeem the time"?

First, we must train ourselves to live in the moment of each day walking in the Will of our Lord. We should not desire to live in anticipation of some future date nor wish for a return of the past lest we neglect how this particular day is spiritually spent. We must live spiritually in the here and now, redeeming the time with adherence to heeding the Will of God in our lives. The goals for our life should incorporate becoming more focused on developing Godly habits in our life avoiding impulsivity, escaping into the past, or acting and daydreaming upon the ideal that the future will always be better. With attentiveness, faithfulness and wholeness we need to savor each and every moment God has given unto us and make it worthy of His gift.

Psalm 34:8-10 tells us,

"Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the man who trusts Him! Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. The young lions lack and suffer hunger, but those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing."

Second, redeeming the time by abiding in God's Will is finding your joy and pleasure in heartfelt spirituality. Earthly accomplishments and earthly gain may only be short lived but dwelling within the Will of God can have life eternal as a benefit.

Cyprian (c.250) wrote, "Laurentius and Egnatius had also been once warring in the camps of the world. However, they were true and spiritual soldiers of the God, casting down the devil by the confession of Christ. Therefore, they merited palms and crowns from the Lord by their illustrious passion. We always offer sacrifices for them (as you remember) as often as we celebrate the passions and days of the martyrs in the annual commemoration."

A pure heart will savor the time spent in studying the Holy Bible focusing on prayer, and finding enrichment through service. If your circumstances become difficult in times to come, or encompass sorrow, a pure heart will approach these trials with acceptance as such times are not completely devoid of happiness when one is filled with peace by his relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

St. Clement of Alexandria (c. 195) taught, "Although disease, accident, and death come upon the spiritual man by the power of God they become the medicine of salvation. Through discipline, they benefit those who are difficult to reform. They are allotted according to what is deserved by providence, which is truly good."

Moments of happiness, joy, and reflection at such undesired times give us all a tiny glimpse of what Eternity with the Lord Jesus Christ must be like. Further, separating yourself from a predisposition towards blaming the Lord and/or others for your circumstances is redeeming the time and walking in the Will of our Lord.

The Holy Gospel of St. Matthew 6:34 tells us,

"Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

We are further told,

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks; for this is the Will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (I Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Cyprian (c. 250) taught, "Nothing distinguishes the unrighteous from the righteous more than this; that in affliction, the unrighteous man impatiently complains and blasphemes. The righteous man is proved by his patience."

Third, in order to know the Will of God for your life, pray for the Will of God to find an open door in your life. Redeem the time by living with hope and trusting that the Will of God will prevail in your life. When you pray present your emotions, temperament, and will before the Lord. Pray to the Lord that none of these things will separate you from your love for His Holy Name.

"For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created things, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39).

Tertullian (c. 198) steadfastly believed that, "The exercise of prayer should not only be free from anger, but from all mental disturbances whatever. Prayer should be uttered from a spirit like the Spirit to whom it is sent. For a defiled spirit cannot be acknowledged by a Holy Spirit, nor a sad one by a joyful one, nor a fettered one by a free oneBut what reason is there to go to prayer with hands indeed washed, but the spirit foul?"

Prayer can serve as our protection from the most intense evil and pain when we talk to God. Also, prayer can be more than just a means of talking to God; it can also incorporate patience in waiting for a response during overwhelmingly difficult times.

Finally, St. Clement of Alexandria (c. 195) summarized redeeming the time for the devout Christian in this manner, "The whole life of the spiritual man is a holy festival. His sacrifices are prayers, praises, and readings in Scriptures before meals. They are psalms and hymns during meals and before bed---and prayers also again during the night. By these, the spiritual man unites himself to the divine choir."

Let us all be alert in redeeming the time as we so often pray, "but deliver us from evil in Christ Jesus our Lord."

God bless all of your endeavors to redeem the time this Coptic New Year.

Bishop Youssef
Bishop, Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

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