Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jul 30 2013 - Romans 13:1-14 – Keep an eye on the time

Our lives are marked out by time. Our day may begin when the alarm clock goes off; it’s time to get up. Before long it’s time to go to work, time to attend a meeting, time to break for lunch, time to go home. We need to keep an eye on the time to ensure that we are where we ought to be and that we are doing what we ought to be doing.

Paul tells the Christians at Rome to keep an eye on the time (Romans 13:11). The time when they were awakened from sleep is past. The night is behind them and they are well into the day. They need to keep an eye on the time to ensure that they are doing what they ought to be doing as those who have been brought out of darkness and into the light. They need to put off the night clothes of frivolity, drunkenness, sexual immorality, dissipation, bickering, jealousy and the like. Paul says that their salvation is nearer to them than when they first believed. They should have made progress in salvation; they should be more like Christ now than they were when they first came to faith in him.

And the conduct that Paul commends is immensely practical. It is to be fuelled by love – love for God and love for other people in every sphere of society. It is to extend to every aspect of our lives, even to honouring those in positions of authority and the appropriate payment of taxes.

I was listening recently to a programme which exposed the way that large multi-national companies avoid paying corporate tax. Spokespersons from such companies were insistent that they did not break the law but paid precisely what the law demanded of them. Nevertheless, by cunning profit shifting to tax havens they avoided paying most of the tax which would otherwise have been due on the profits they earned in a particular country.

Love demands that we do more than stick to the letter of the law while ensuring that we give the minimum to others. Love demands extravagant obedience and generous benevolence towards others. Love fulfils the law, but living a life of love bursts all the mean bands of legalism and overflows in doing good – promoting human flourishing and creation care.

We need to keep an eye on the time to ensure that we are doing what we ought to be doing. On my left wrist is my watch; it’s indispensable for ensuring I am doing the right thing at the right time. On my right wrist is a wristband bearing the single word, ‘Risen’. It reminds me of the time both in cosmic terms – Christ is risen from the dead – and in personal terms – I am risen with him. I need to keep an eye on the time to ensure that I am doing what I ought to be doing as a child of the day. My life, in all its moments, is to radiate the risen presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. A physical afternoon nap may do us good but let’s not nod off in following Christ.

Lord Jesus, help me to keep an eye on the time and to serve you with joy as a child of the day. You have loved me and given yourself for me. Enlarge my love for you that it may consume me and overflow in love for others. Keep me from mere sentimental love. May my love for you be seen in practical obedience and extravagant service. Fill me with your Spirit and clothe me with your character.

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Peter Misselbrook