On Making the Most of our Time

Faithful time management is an ever present challenge for me.

Each day, there are {seemingly} too many things vying for the best of my time, energy, mental and physical attention.

What is most important? What can be dropped? How do I prioritize well and balance the various roles, responsibilities, and opportunities the Lord has given me? How do I minimize wasted time?

All the things I need and want to do each day just cannot be done and certainly cannot be done well. I have to prioritize, plan, and ultimately make decisions concerning the use of my time. Although your own roles, responsibilities, and opportunities may look very different from mine, you have to make those same decisions.

In struggling to best manage my competing responsibilities, I am continually returning to Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesian church:   ” .  . . and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord” (Eph. 5:10)I often quote his reminder to the Corinthians to my own heart: “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him” (2 Cor 5:9). I certainly don’t earn God’s favor by using my time in ways that please Him. No. I seek to use my time for Him because He has placed His undeserved favor on me through the Gospel of Jesus.

How do I discover which uses of my time are most pleasing to the Lord? The only place to find these answers is God’s Word, His written revelation of Himself. The renewal of my mind through the Bible enables me to discern and think rightly about what pleases God (Romans 12:2), and the Holy Spirit’s power enables me to do what pleases Him, even when my flesh would rather have its own way. Here are three biblical principles I’m using to shape the way I think about and manage my time:

1. Time spent faithfully fulfilling God-given responsibilities for the purpose of Him receiving glory is pleasing to the Lord. The principle here is that God is pleased when we concern ourselves less with what our God-given jobs are and more with how and why they are fulfilled. For most people, the greatest chunks of time each day are spent in one particular vocation. God has given different roles and responsibilities to each of us, and he expects us to do them. But we need to ask ourselves how and why we’re doing them. Colossians 3:23 teaches that we please the Lord when we recognize that all our work is for Him, and, therefore, work heartily {vigorously, thoroughly} at it. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” A good question to ask is, “Am I giving 100% in fulfilling my responsibilities today {regardless of whether I like them or think they’re significant}?” 1 Corinthians 10:31 teaches what the motive behind our faithful work should be: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  Ask yourself, “Am I spending all this time working hard to make God’s name famous or to make my name famous?” When we use our time working faithfully in our ordinary tasks for his renown, He is pleased.

2. Time spent working for the eternal, rather than the temporal, is pleasing to the Lord. Matthew 6:19 says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal, but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  Spending the limited time God has given us striving after things that won’t last is a waste of time. Ultimately, the only things that will carry from this life to the next are God’s Word and human souls. When you spend your time intentionally seeking to know God through His Word and helping others know Him through His Word, you are using your time in ways that are pleasing to the Lord. A good question to ask is, “Do the things I spend significant time doing have any eternal value?” Now, by suggesting this question, I am not inferring that everything you do must be “churchy.” For the Christian, there is no dichotomy between the sacred and the secular. The gospel and the mission of Christ permeate every part of a believer’s ordinary life. Eternally-motivated activities are woven throughout the every day. Nonetheless, your day should include intentional time to know God (Bible intake, prayer, etc) and to make Him known to others.

3. Time spent working to reverse the effects of sin through restorative action is pleasing to the Lord. Ephesians 5:16 says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil. The curse of man’s sin has left no part of our world untouched. We live in a broken world, corrupted by evil because of sin. Christ came to bring restoration and to reverse the effects of the curse. The reversal of the curse of sin was inaugurated with Jesus’s death and resurrection and will be completed when Christ returns to fully restore and recreate {Revelation 21}. In the meantime, all believers are to be working toward the reversal of brokenness in our world. Restorative action happens when we do things God’s way for the purpose of His glory and the benefit of the world. This looks a million different ways in our lives and can be practiced in any vocation, but the goals of our actions should be motivated and driven by the Gospel {the good news of what God has done and will do for us in Christ}. Working toward a more godly marriage by spending time with your spouse, parenting biblically, cultivating beauty, creating beauty through art and music, getting proper rest, caring for your body through right eating and disciplined exercise, learning,  developing healthy friendships, working for social justice, enjoying and cultivating creation, orphan care, service and enjoying God’s good gifts are just a few examples that come quickly to mind.

I’m young, but the truth is that I don’t have all the time in the world. And neither do you. Let’s make the best investment of every moment He has given us by using our time in ways that please Him. And let’s not live like this is all there is. Our brief moments on earth are just the “pre-life” of what’s to come.

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