THE TIME HAS COME
(It’s Time to Wake Up! Time is Short)
by Rev. Saumiman Saud
Last Tuesday I heard news that a church member at Sacramento suddenly passed away. On Sunday I actually still had a chance to chat with him after my sermon. That makes me realize that our time always gets closer. Then what should we do with such a short time? Even though God gives us freedom to choose, we still have to ask for His wisdom so that we do not do the wrong things. We don’t know our time.
Frankly, not every church member considers this warning about running out of time. There are many who think they are making the right decisions. Apostle Paul here emphasized this not for a time being, but till the end comes, in other words before it’s too late.
My friends who live in America certainly understand the importance of that time. When you go to the mechanic, maybe there are spare parts which must be bought for $50 or something. But the labor cost is much more expensive, maybe $400 or $500 because it’s hard and it takes time to repair the car. Thus “time is money”. But there’s a minister who scorns at that saying, because he thinks that even though time is money, we then can use that money to buy time.
If God has set our age to be 90 years old, and say we work hard all our lives, saving money to ask for extra time. It is impossible to pay God to extend our life from 90 to 125 years. Money cannot buy time. Then what should we do to save ourselves in the time being? What must we do?
In verse 12, apostle Paul explained. We will concentrate on this verse, I will divide it up to three points:
- IT’S TIME TO WAKE UP! Time is Short: Remember, the day is late, it’s almost noon.
Apostle Paul complete understood what short time means when he looked at his own
life. Before repentance, Paul was already famous. He was not a layperson, he was a highly educated person. His teacher was the famous Gamaliel. He was very witty, imagine that he was one of the perpetrators of Stephen’s martyrdom. But God wants to use this kind of people. Due to God’s grace, he could change. I’m sure we still remember the transformation from Saul to Paul which was quite drastic. This was an absolute and spontaneous change. Paul really value that moment that he did not waste any time even though he was blind for three days.
If we go back to verse 11, there it says “he hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber” (NIV). What does that mean? Sleep is a metaphor for our spiritual condition that is far from God’s kingdom. Thus we must realize that our world is temporary, our King, Messiah will come soon without us knowing when. It does not make sense to ignore this fact.
Verse 12 starts: “The night is nearly over; the day is almost here” (NIV). I’m not quite sure whether you know what this is like late at night. When you are busy finishing up your paper, or stressed out that you cannot sleep at night till morning, there we pass a vague line between darkness and morning light. Therefore everybody must get up, there are many things to do!
Believers are somewhere between night and day. What we see is vague, but that’s the time to wake up. That means we have to be ready, prepared and start doing something. That something must be a positive thing, something for the glory of God.
- IT’S TIME TO WAKE UP! Time is short: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness
William Barclay says this verse is very important for theologians and church fathers,
including Augustine. One day Augustine was walking in a garden; he was troubled because he failed to lead a good life. He screamed in agony many times, “How long? How much longer? Tomorrow and tomorrow again – why not now? Why can’t my immorality end now?” Suddenly he heard a voice: “Take it and read it” It sounded like a voice of a kid, he drained his mind trying to remember a kids’ game that uses those words, but he couldn’t remember.
He then went to Alypius; his friend was sitting down and placed many books, especially letters from Paul. “I took it right away and read it slowly the first part: “Do not party and drink, do not live in adultery and flesh, do not quarrel or be jealous. But use Lord Jesus Christ by your side, and do not use your body to satisfy your flesh.” Augustine said again “I don’t want to and I don’t need to read the coming verses.”
With the end of that sentence, light shined into my heart, all shadows of doubt disappears. I place my finger there and closed the book; I saw Alypius calmly and told him my experience. I must leave every bad habits in the past.
What must be left behind? It is not a coincidence that apostle Paul picked specific sins that we must set aside in our lives.
- Party (komos)
What does it mean? Does that mean believers are not allowed to party? Of course not.
The word partying is “komos”, meaning a group of friends that go to the house of a winner, celebrating the victory. This word implies an all night party that is loud and disordered. This depicts the kind of party that degrades humanity and disturbs others.
I don’t think we ever party that badly, right? But sometimes we live off of other’s
misfortune. For example, we underpay our employee, make them work hard, treat others badly. These all count as partying. Paul said that this must be stopped at once!
- Drunk (methe)
The Greeks feel that getting drunk is very embarrassing. They do like to drink
wine, even the kids drink. Their breakfast is called akratisma, bread dipped into wine. But getting drunk is very embarrassing, because their wine is not strong; it has been watered down first. This dilute wine becomes their daily drink, because there is not enough clean water. So when one gets drunk, that means someone cheated and overdosed.
I am sure that you are never this drunk! But if drinking makes you lose control, then you should stop drinking. Many youngsters are now influenced by drugs, ecstasy, etc. Even in America we hardly ever hear them grow Marijuana for self-consumption. Life is so free that people live in disorder. Paul clearly said that we must stop drinking.
- Adultery (koite)
Literally this takes a bed and a willing to sleep with someone. This is the typical
depiction. That word describes someone who has no loyalty and wants to enjoy pleasure.
When we say that God’s grace is enough for someone, that means that person wants nothing else. Adultery comes out of dissatisfaction. Once again Paul said that ‘adultery’ must be stopped!
- Lust (aselgeia)
This is the worst word in Greek. This word describes not only immorality, but also
specifically loss of shame. Usually people try to hide their wrong doings from everybody. But this is not the case in aselgeia, they are immune to their shame. They no longer care how others look at them. Aselgeia dare to do unchaste things in public.
From 1988-1989, I was in a Seminary at Bandar-Baru, North Sumatra. Across from my seminary is a brothel (place of WTS – Wanita Tuna Susila – Women without Morals). Their cooler nickname is PKS (Pekerja Seks Komersial – Commercial Sex Worker). Every week I have to take bus twice to campus. Every time the bus driver knew I was getting off there, he would say: “Boss, do you need a villa, do you need me to book a room for you? Do you want Chinese, dark and sweet, or one with light complexion?” I don’t quite remember whether he called me Boss or Sir, but maybe Boss. Apparently I have the looks of a boss but not the guts of one. Excuse me for being a self-absorbed.
Since that happened several times on the bus, I told the driver that my destination is Sibolangit, a town right before Bandar Baru. Since I told them so, I was never given such offers anymore. Interestingly enough, when I was in college in Malang, I had a similar experience. In my third year of college, almost once a month I was supposed to go to Tretes, East Java to serve. Tretes is a place of prostitution like Bandar Baru. On weekend nights, sometimes my friend and I were assigned at Prigen to look for satay. Many people asked us the same questions that were asked on the bus.
In 2000 or so, many pretty ‘ladies’ appeared along certain streets in Surabaya. They were offering aselgia shamelessly even at famous campuses. They looked very sexy, waving their hand by the street. Don’t you ever dare stop, because they will run to your car. If a deal could be made, they would hop right in.
I am sure that you will never go that far, but keep in mind that some time in our lives we all have done something inappropriate shamelessly. That is not much different thanaselgia. Paul emphasized clearly that aselgia must be removed at once!
5. Conflict (eris)
Eris comes out of unhealthy and uncontrolled competition. This comes out of the will to pursue prestige, power and honor that the enemy has. This is the sin which initially prioritizes oneself and is completely in opposition to love.
Those who work in business must watch for this. For it is common knowledge that dirty tactics are used in business against others. This is also the case in daily life where we try to put aside people who don’t like us. That is eris, which must be put aside.
6. Jealousy (zelos)
Zelos is not always negative. This word depicts one who longs to acquire the same thing that others have. If that thing is good, then he would still long for it. But this could also mean jealousy of others prestige and. What’s depicted here is the unsatisfactory feeling of what one already has, thus looking at what others have with jealousy. The negative part of zelos must be removed!
But positive zelos must be kept well. For example, when you see a friend at church who is diligent in serving the Lord and you get jealous of your friend, you get jealous. That means you will try to be diligent too. Another example: you see a friend who used to live in sin, but now has changed. Now this friend of yours is very obedient to God, then we should strive to be like that. For Paul, negative jealousy must be eliminated at once! That cannot wait.
- IT’S TIME TO WAKE UP! Time is short: Do not forget to put on your armor.
Competing, fighting for victory is easier than defending victory. Look at the boxing
heavy weight champions, Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson; they always have to defend their title. That’s not easy. He must maintain his stamina, body weight through strict diet and exercise. Only then can their victory be defended, because the opponents are always trying persistently.
Paul said once we pay attention to it, while leaving our dark past, we need to put on our armor of light. Lord Jesus himself mentioned that armor of light. To put on the armor of light, we need to leave our old armor. What we wear now is dirty and filthy, but the new one will be our good deeds.
If we pay attention to what Paul wants, he said that evil actions must be left before wearing the new armor. In other words, if we want to invite Jesus into our lives, then our old lives must be left behind at once!! Have you done that??
- The Bible says that the time is near, like a thief that comes at night secretly. What do you want now that you know this? What hinders you from doing something?
- Is sin still conquering your life? How difficult is it to be free? What’s the difference between someone in sin and someone free? (Please explain.)