How To Redeem Your Lost InfluenceJune 17, 2014
Jesus says about each one of us as believers, “Ye are the light of the world…” (Matthew 5:14). Because of Christ in us, we can shine like a light in a darkened place and truly make a difference in the lives of those around us. You may not always feel like you’re a shining light for Jesus, but never let the enemy or anyone else tell you that you don’t have a place or a part to play in God’s Kingdom, especially in these last days before Jesus returns for His Church. Regardless of mistakes you may have made in the past, God has many good works ahead that He has planned just for you to do — and He wants you to do them!
I’m writing this letter to encourage you concerning your influence on others, especially those who aren’t saved. But I specifically want to help you and offer you hope if for some reason you’ve lost opportunities to shine your light for Christ.
Colossians 4:5 says, “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.” This phrase “redeeming the time” informs us that if we’ve made a mistake in front of others or we’ve given a wrong impression that has negatively affected them, it’s not too late for us to redeem that situation!
If a Christian does something so ugly or unethical that it discredits the testimony of Jesus Christ in front of unbelievers who are watching, that believer has a responsibility to do what is needed to “redeem the time” and consequently regain his testimony. In fact, it’s vitally important that he makes things right with those individuals. It may be necessary for that Christian to swallow his pride, admit he did something wrong, and apologize. That may sound difficult or uncomfortable to do, but if that is what’s required to regain his Christian testimony, that’s probably what Christ will require him to do!
Apologizing for wrong behavior or ill-spoken words is humiliating, but if we consider the souls of those who are affected by those actions — and if we love them as Christ loves them — we’ll want to make it right. And believe me when I tell you (from a lot of personal experience) that people are impressed by a sincere apology!
If you’ve done something that has marred your testimony or witness for Christ, you may be filled with regret right now, but I want to encourage you that it’s not too late for you to do something about it. God has made every provision for you in Christ to rectify your actions and to “redeem” that situation. That’s why Paul tells us, “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.”
The word “redeem” from this verse is from the Greek word exagoridzo, the old Greek word that’s used to depict someone purchasing a slave out of a slave market. It’s a compound of the words ex and agoridzo. The word ex is a preposition that means out. The word agoridzo is the Greek word most notably used to describe the slave market — a disgusting place where human beings were bought, sold, and traded like animals. Ancient slave markets were usually located in a city’s marketplace, or agora, and it’s from this Greek word agora that we get the word agoridzo.
When these two words ex and agoridzo are compounded, they form the word exagoridzo, and it pictures a buyer who has gone to the market to purchase a slave so he can permanently free that slave by granting him freedom. That buyer removes the slave from that horrible place in order to return him to the status of freedom he enjoyed before he was enslaved.
Paul uses this very important word exagoridzo (“redeem”) in Colossians 4:5 to tell us that time can also be redeemed or bought back! That means if you’ve messed up in your life — or if you’ve injured your testimony in front of other people — and you’re willing to do whatever is necessary to make it right, God can enable you to buy back time. He can help you regain the testimony you lost and the time you squandered. If you’re willing to swallow your pride and do what God asks you to do, you can be given other opportunities to make up for what was previously lost.
When Paul writes of “redeeming the time,” the word “time” is the Greek word kairos, which can be translated as opportunity. This means God will help you retrieve lost time and opportunities!
The following are questions we can all ask ourselves to determine our future direction as God helps us buy back time and retrieve lost territory for Him.
- Can you think of specific opportunities you’ve lost along your life’s journey so far?
- Have you forfeited your testimony in front of non-Christians because you did something ugly or unethical in front of them?
- Did you lose opportunities to enjoy your children when they were younger because you didn’t take advantage of the time you were given to be with them?
The truth is, for various reasons, we’ve all forfeited opportunities along the way in life. Some of those lost moments were due to our own ignorance and wrong choices, and some were because of hardships or difficulties that prevented us from doing what we wanted to do. But regardless of why we lost opportunities, Paul tells us that if we’re willing to go the distance to do whatever is necessary to “redeem the time,” we can turn things around and end up with many wonderful, brand-new opportunities that will make up for lost or wasted time.
Oh, can’t you hear the Holy Spirit crying out, “Do everything you can to make up for lost territory! I’ll enable you to buy back all the time you can and make the most of every new opportunity!”
This brings me back to the subject of our influence on others. We should never forget that people are watching us! They see our walk and they hear our talk — they notice what we say and do! So we must live wisely and prudently, especially for the sake of the non-Christians who are observing our lives.
But if for some reason you’ve damaged your testimony in front of non-Christians, or even before believers who looked to you as an example, God’s grace can turn that around for you. Perhaps you lost a degree of influence you had on someone else due to a lack of integrity or some bad behavior, such as speaking words that weren’t Christ-like. If you’re willing to do whatever is necessary to redeem the time, God’s grace will help you “buy back” lost time, as well as your damaged testimony.
The question today is, What is God asking you to do to make right some situation in which you forfeited your influence for Christ? For you to redeem the time and recover your testimony, He may require you to apologize to someone, to admit you were wrong about something, or perhaps to make a serious correction in some area of your life. If you’re willing to do what’s right, God’s grace will miraculously enable you to buy back lost opportunities and recover a testimony you thought had been lost.
This command of God in Colossians 4:5 to “redeem the time” is a very generous, supernatural command! Time is so valuable and precious — and it is a natural fact that we cannot turn back time. Once our time is spent, it is gone. But God has a marvelous way of multiplying the time we have left so that we can actually “buy time back”! If you’re willing to put forth the effort to correct your mistakes, God’s grace will go the distance with you to enable you to buy back a lot of time, opportunity, territory, or testimony that you lost along your life’s journey. The Holy Spirit really wants to help you redeem the time!
Time is a sacred and precious commodity that we must use carefully and not waste. But if you’ve made mistakes in the past because you failed to see the big picture at times, it’s not too late for you to make your time and the rest of your days count for Jesus. I can’t even begin to count the times the Holy Spirit has required me to apologize for saying something unkind or unnecessary — or even something that was none of my business. It has never hurt me to apologize, and, in fact, apologizing to others has released a precious, cleansing work of the Holy Spirit deep in my soul every time the Lord has required it of me.
It’s so important to live vitally aware every day that our lives are a pulpit. If we give a wrong impression to onlookers, we have a responsibility to Jesus to set the record straight. If you feel you can’t do it for any other reason, please do it for Him. He provided redemption for you with His precious blood, and He knows how to help you redeem the time in your personal life and recover what has been lost.
I pray that this letter has been a source of strength and direction to help you. Thank you for letting me speak this message into your life. Please let us know how we can pray for you! Denise and I, our staff, and our Partner Care teams in Moscow and Tulsa constantly pray for you. But when you share a specific request with us, we immediately pray and add our faith to yours about your desire or need. Thank you so much for joining hands with Denise and me and our family as we preach the Gospel in our part of the world and abroad. Together and by God’s grace, you and I can shine our lights and make a difference for eternity in so many people’s lives!
We love you and thank God for you!
We are your brother and sister, friends, and partners in Jesus Christ,
Rick and Denise Renner
along with Paul, Philip, and Joel and their families