Had a neat conversation with a guy I meet with regularly about the concept of "redeeming the time." Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:15-16 to "be careful how you live - not as unwise but as wise, redeeming the time because the days are evil." The NIV translates "redeeming the time" "making the most of every opportunity" which gets at the point but probably doesn't totally capture it.
When you redeem something, you trade something with some value for something that has more personal value to you. For example, when you buy a $20 shirt, you exchange a piece of paper with $20 in value for a shirt that has more value to you than the $20 bill. The store is willing to make the exchange because they value the $20 more than they value hanging onto the shirt. You redeem the shirt by exchanging something with value for something that you perceive to have more value.
In Ephesians 5:15-16, Paul talks about "time" as something that has inherent value. Rather than simply wasting it, he challenges us to make an investment; to exchange the minutes, hours, and days that we have for something we perceive to have more value.
The guy I was talking to this morning is a great example. He spends a couple of hours every week tutoring a kid in partnership with one of the ministries our church supports. Essentially, he is trading those two hours for something he perceives to have more value. Eternal value, in fact.
Rather than simply hanging onto his time and letting it pass through his hands, my friend is choosing to invest it in something he will be able to enjoy millions of years from now. He's making a good investment...