While we are living in this world, each one of us has twenty-four hours each day. That doesn’t seem like so much until you break it down and discover it represents 1,440 minutes! That’s a lot of minutes … and we all have the same amount to use. We may have different talents, and the amount of treasure varies from person to person, but we all have the same amount of time. And the basic question I have for you here is: In what ways are you using the time God has given to you in this world?
Longevity of life is not really the issue here. Some people live very long lives and never accomplish anything of significance while others accomplish a great deal in a very short amount of time. What is important is that we accomplish what we are supposed to in the amount of time we are given.
In many ways, time is like money. I didn’t say time is money, I said time is like money. It is a resource, a valuable one at that, and it is available to us to use in whatever way we choose.
With money, we all have fixed expenditures: housing, utilities, food, clothing, transportation. Many of us choose a standard of living that uses our money. After we pay for our fixed expenditures, whatever is left, what I call “discretionary,” we use on entertainment, eating out, vacations, and hopefully, ministry. All of this requires decisions.
The same is true of our time. We all have fixed “expenditures” with our time: a certain amount of sleep, regular work, eating, including whatever preparation is needed, and obligations to our families. The time we have left we see as discretionary, we can “spend” it on whatever we choose. However, one important factor to consider is that the lifestyle standard that we currently have for our “fixed” expenditures, whether that expenditure is money or time, directly affects what we have “left over.”
If I have a lifestyle that requires a lot of money, there isn’t much left over for anything else. If I have a lifestyle that requires a lot of my time, either for work or even a lot of “stuff” to maintain, I won’t have a lot of time for other important things. So we see that our discretionary time is also directly affected by the choices we make regarding our fixed commitments. We often feel like we don’t have any choices, but we always do. Are we thoughtful, disciplined, and intentional with our commitments, or are we just letting them happen?
It has become increasingly clear to me that the only two things that will survive the perishable world are the Word of God, which endures forever, and the souls of people, who will live in one of two places for all of eternity. Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners. When he left this world physically, he left us, his followers, to reach our respective generations with the good news of salvation. One of our responsibilities as believers is to be ambassadors for Christ. The apostle Paul made it clear when he said, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20, NIV). Each one of us is an ambassador for Christ in one way or another. Our mission is to introduce people to the person of Jesus Christ! How are you using your time to make this happen?
I have found that many people attempt to find fulfillment in life in the wrong ways and in the wrong places as they follow wrong pursuits. Often, time used in this way simply results in disappointment, disillusionment, regret, depression, or even despair.
The book of Isaiah tells us, “If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail” (Isaiah 58:10–11, NIV). When I think of a “well-watered garden” or a “spring whose waters never fail,” I think of something with vitality and creativity and beauty. If I apply this metaphor to a person, I think of someone who is energetic, and focused, and alive. Are you that person? Or are you a sun-scorched garden or a spring that has gone dry. I encounter a lot of people who are tired. They are busy. They are weary. And they are frustrated that their lives are not producing anything of substance, let alone something that will last for all eternity. Satan has confused their priorities. The Chief Consumerlator will make you too busy and will find a way to rob you of your joy and life if you are not careful.
How do we balance our time between our various responsibilities? We seek God’s wisdom! In Ephesians 5 we read, “Carefully determine what pleases the Lord … Be careful how you live … Make the most of every opportunity” (Ephesians 5:10–16, NLT).
The world says “indulge”; God says “do my will.” We must set our sights beyond the deceptions of our culture. We find true fulfillment when we discover what we have been designed for and then use our time in conformance to that design. This does not mean that we need to be busier. It means that we need to carefully and intentionally use the specific time that God has given us. What opportunities has God recently given you to use your time for him? Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s direction in this area of your life, and then act on what he shows you!
How are you currently using the time God has given to you, really?