In Ephesians 5:15-21, the apostle Paul is challenging the believers at Ephesus – and ultimately us – to live Spirit-filled lives. One of the character traits of a Spirit-filled person, from his perspective, is that he or she “makes the most out of the opportunity, because the days are evil.” While this verse has nothing to do with time management – it isn’t advice about your Outlook Calendar on your smartphone – it does speak to the responsibility of managing life well.
Sabbath School Lesson For Adults
Paul uses some interesting vocabulary from his world in these verses. The phrase “make the most of” was actually a marketplace word which meant something like “drive a hard bargain.” The word ‘time’ didn’t so much mean time in the chronological sense, but time in the sense of ‘the age in which you live.’ When we put all that together, it comes out to something like “do everything you can to make good use of the fact that you live in the age of the kingdom of God.”
So, what does that have to do with Sabbath? A whole lot. The idea of Sabbath rest is rooted in the creation story, where we are told that God rested on the Sabbath Day. But the idea of ‘rest’ in that Hebrew text isn’t so much ‘God sat around and took it easy’ as it is God delighting in the goodness of His creation. Imagine, for example, how refreshing it for us to look at some marvelous part of creation like the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, or one of those incredible photos of our planet taken from space. Then imagine what God was looking at – the ‘very good’ creation, as yet unmarred by sin and death.
We live in such a complex world; it is sometimes difficult to stop what we are doing and notice the world around us. This is probably especially true if you are an adult student with a spouse and children, a full-time job, obligations at church, and now you have added school. There’s too much to read, too many projects to complete, too many papers to write, and I always get put in the group where someone never helps with the work!
In the Old Testament, Sabbath was a day and there were all sorts of rules about commanding people to “remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy.” By the time Jesus comes along, many Jewish groups had created hundreds of rules about obeying the Sabbath. But after that first Easter, followers of Jesus began worshipping on the Lord’s Day – or the first day of the week, not the seventh. In some Christian contexts today, people have tried to adapt the Jewish idea of Sabbath and call it Sunday, but that is hardly what the model of God resting on the Sabbath Day intended to teach us.
In the new covenant, Sabbath is not so much about a day as it is an approach to life that is committed to not letting the pressure of the routine distract us from marveling at God, His creation, and what He is doing in our lives. Sabbath is about reflection. It is about enjoying the fruits of our labor in ways that honor God. Of course we all need rest. We need to step away from the routine of daily living and take deep, satisfying, refreshing breaths. Sabbath should help make that happen.
In the Old Testament, Sabbath began at sundown on Friday and ended at sundown on Saturday. Hebrews typically worked six days a week, sunup to sundown. But our culture’s sense of work schedules (few people work sunup to sundown six days a week – even if it sometimes feels like we do) and our sense of “time off” is drastically different. So the idea that we should take one day out of seven is really not likely to do for us what Sabbath was intended.
Sabbath ought to be a time when “we clear our heads.” That means we probably need to turn off our smartphones; put our textbooks away; try to forget about work issues; and, if you are serving in church in some way, don’t even think about that. Clarity comes out of resting our minds from what usually occupies our thought processes.
For some people, that might actually mean doing absolutely nothing – being a couch potato without the television on. For others it might mean an extended visit to the gym. Still others are going to find that reading some great novel or biography that has nothing to do with school can be a genuinely head-clearing activity. It could be taking the family on a fun outing. And what about the potential of simply walking around and marveling at what God has created? Have you ever tried reading Scripture in the quietness of a forest?
Psalm 19 might provide the most vivid description of what Sabbath can be. The psalm begins with those wonderful words, “the heavens declare the glory of God.” The first six verses proclaim the wonders of the world God has created. Beginning with verse 7, the psalmist delights in “the law of the Lord” and talks about its perfection, power to restore, etc. through verse 13. Then, and this is no accident, the psalm ends with “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
At its best, Sabbath includes some time spent glorying in the beauty of God’s creation – that’s what He did on the very first Sabbath there ever was – and some time reflecting on His Word. That can empower us to speak and meditate upon that which pleases Him.
So, no matter how rushed life seems, find a moment here and there (or when possible more, than a moment) to walk away from the pressures of your calendar. You will be surprised at the impact it can have.
Hybrid Program at Point University
Point offers degree programs that address challenges working adults face when returning to the classroom: convenience, flexibility, and value. Point University offers a variety of degree options for our students. Whether God is calling you to full-time ministry or to serve others through another career, Point’s academic programs will prepare you to reach your potential.
ASSOCIATE OF ARTS DEGREE
An associate’s degree is a two year degree program that includes all general education requirements and some major courses according to your degree of choice. You can transfer up to 30 semester hours into our associate’s degree programs, cutting the length of your program in half.
BACHELOR OF SCIENCE DEGREE
A bachelor’s degree is a four year degree program that includes all general education requirements, all major courses for your degree of choice, and free elective courses which allow you to explore other areas of interest during your program. You can transfer up to 90 semester hours into our bachelor’s degree programs, shortening your degree completion time by more than half.[:de]In Ephesians 5:15-21, the apostle Paul is challenging the believers at Ephesus – and ultimately us – to live Spirit-filled lives. One of the character traits of a Spirit-filled person, from his perspective, is that he or she “makes the most out of the opportunity, because the days are evil.” While this verse has nothing to do with time management – it isn’t advice about your Outlook Calendar on your smartphone – it does speak to the responsibility of managing life well.