Summary: To make the most of the time we have left and bring harmony to all your relationships, walk in wisdom, God's Will, and in the fullness of the Spirit.
In 1867, Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel invented a new high explosive, which he named “dynamite.” He was convinced that his invention would make war too horrible to ever happen again. However, he quickly discovered there was no shortage of buyers for his new explosive. He made a huge fortune from its sales, yet was horrified with the suffering and misery it caused in wars and conflicts. But what was he to do?
Towards the end of the 19th, century he awoke one morning to read his own obituary in the local paper: “Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, who died yesterday, devised a way for more people to be killed in a war than ever before. He died a very rich man.”
Actually, it was Alfred's older brother who had died. A newspaper reporter had confused the epitaph. But the account had a profound effect on Alfred. He decided he wanted to be known for something other than developing a means to kill people efficiently, and for amassing a fortune in the process.
As a result, he initiated the Nobel Prize – an award for scientists and writers who foster peace. Nobel said, “Every man ought to have the chance to correct his epitaph in midstream and write a new one.” (Doug Murren and Barb Sharin, Is It Real When It Doesn't Work? Thomas Nelson, 1990)
Wouldn’t that be nice? Well, the good news is WE CAN! As long as we’re still alive, we can correct our epitaphs and write new ones. We can always redeem the time that’s left.
You say, “Phil, how?” How can I redeem the time I have left to make the most of it? How can I correct my epitaph before it’s too late? How can I insure that the legacy I leave behind is a positive one for my children and grandchildren? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Ephesians 5, Ephesians 5, where the Bible shows us how.
Ephesians 5:15-16 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. (ESV)
Literally, “redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” We can buy back the lost and wasted years, if we…
Literally, the text says we must walk around as wise people. We must exercise great skill in the way we live. We must use good judgment.
Show the video, Spot the Gorilla (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJG698U2Mvo)
In his book, Did You Spot the Gorilla, psychologist Richard Wiseman describes an experiment where volunteers watched this short video of two teams passing basketballs. When asked to count the number of times the white team passed the ball, most volunteers came up with the correct answer, but most of them also missed the man in the gorilla suit, beating his chest, right in the middle of all the action. How did you do? Were you so intent on counting passes that you completely missed the gorilla?
Richard Wiseman concluded that most people go through life so focused on the immediate task at hand they completely miss gorilla opportunities. He gives the example of a team of 3M researchers who were trying to develop a high-strength adhesive. One of their attempts produced a product that was actually the opposite – a very low-strength adhesive. Most of the team thought the result was a failure, but one saw it as an opportunity. That adhesive failure went on to become the invention that made 3M Post-It notes a reality. (Richard Wiseman, Did You Spot the Gorilla? How to Recognize Hidden Opportunities, Arrow Books)
Don’t be so focused on the problems, you miss the prospects for success. Don’t be so focused on the mundane, you miss the gorilla opportunities. It does us no good to whine and complain about our failures. Instead, let’s live wisely, and so redeem the time we have left. But in order to live wisely, we must…
UNDERSTAND GOD’S WILL.
We must comprehend what God wants us to do. We must know his desire for us.
Ephesians 5:17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (ESV)
When we understand God’s will, then it keeps us from doing foolish things. A wise life is a life lived according to the will of God.
Tim Sanders, former chief solutions officer at Yahoo, talks about establishing the right priorities:
He says, “Take your life and all the things that you think are important, and put them in one of three categories. These three categories are represented by three items: glass, metal, and rubber.
“The things that are made of rubber, when you drop them, will bounce back. Nothing really happens when these kinds of things get dropped. So, for instance… my missing a game or a season of football will not alter my marriage or my spiritual life. I can take 'em or leave 'em.