For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
Over the past few weeks, we’ve explored three biblical truths about time and productivity:
- Truth #1: Our longing for timelessness is good and God-given
- Truth #2: Sin has ensured we will all die with unfinished symphonies
- Truth #3: God will finish the work we leave unfinished
But here’s the thing: Even though God doesn’t need us to be productive (see Truth #3), we often need ourselves to be productive in order to feel a sense of self-worth.
So before we go any further, I want you to stop and let this truth sink in: The gospel frees us from the need to be productive.
The good news of the gospel is that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). And because we did nothing to earn his grace, there is nothing we can do to lose it. No matter how productive you are in this life, your status as an adopted child of God will never ever change. In the words of the great preacher, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “A Christian is something before [they do] anything.”
Ironically, it’s that truth that leads us to be wildly productive. Why? Because working to earn someone’s favor is exhausting. But working in response to unconditional favor is intoxicating. Once you realize that God accepts you no matter how productive you are in this life, you want to be productive for his agenda as a loving act of worship.
This is what the apostle Paul was getting at in Ephesians 5. After expounding upon the gospel of grace in Ephesians chapters 1-4, Paul reminds us of our status as “dearly loved children” of God in Ephesians 5:1. What is our response to our adoption as sons and daughters of God? Paul answers that question in Ephesians 5:15-16: “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”
Paul is saying that part of our response to the gospel is to “redeem the time”—to manage our time as carefully and wisely as possible. In other words, the gospel is our ultimate source of both rest and ambition.
The question now is straightforward: Where can we look for practical wisdom as to how to redeem our time? The answer is to God’s Word generally, but more specifically to the life of Christ—the eternal God who became a time-bound human being. More on that truth next week!