THE STEWARDSHIP OF TIME
When I first learned about Alexander the Great (July 356 BC- June 323 BC), and that he only lived to the age of 32, I was amazed that one person could have had that many great exploits attributed to him in a mere 32 years.
Again, when I learned about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (January
1929-April 1968), and all that he accomplished, in only 39 years, I wondered
how a person could pack so much into such a short life. There are many people
who have lived up to, and further than, 70 years of age on this earth, and some
of us who are currently alive may yet live up to that age or grow even older,
but when we consider what has been accomplished during these life-times, we may
well be left with questions worth pondering.
It would not be fair for me to
imply that all people should live lives as spectacular as Alexander the Great
or Martin Luther King Jr., but what I would like us to explore is the good
stewardship of our time. How should
believers view time, biblically speaking?
How can believers glorify God in the way they manage the gift of time? What are some of the practical ways in which
one can manage time effectively and productively?
Those seventy years on this earth are loaned to us, and when it is our time to die, time is taken away from us. From this point of view, those seventy years are ours only in the sense that they are a gift from God."
THE GIFT OF TIME
According to Psalms 90:10, God has allocated mankind about
seventy years to live. If there is still strength, God has been known
to give us eighty or sometimes more
years to live. After that, we die. Life itself, the ability to live each moment,
is derived from God and is a gift from God.
Paul proclaims that, “God gives all men life and breath,” and that, “In
Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:25, 28).
Given these facts, it would be correct to say that the
entire seventy years or longer is a gift from God. Those seventy years on this earth are loaned
to us, and when it is our time to die, time is taken away from us. From this point of view, those seventy years
are ours only in the sense that they are a gift from God. This being the case,
we are then accountable to God for how we use this gift of time. One Christian author puts it forthrightly
when she says, “Our time belongs to God.
Every moment is His, and we are under the most solemn obligation to
improve it to His glory” (Christ's Object Lessons, p. 342). For Christians it is important that they do
not pass the gift of life (time) without care as to what they have done with
MANAGE TIME AND GLORIFY GOD!
How we spend time can either
bring glory to God or dishonor Him. “So
whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God” (1
Cor. 10:31). It is incumbent therefore that Christians
ensure that their lives are lived, and all their activities are carried out to
the glory of God.
A quick answer to this challenge is to simply, as the
Bible puts it, “Do all to the glory of God.” In other words, our actions should
be acceptable and honorable in the eyes of God.
The following are some of the areas in which we can honor God with our
use of time:
Sabbath observance: Within the gift of life
or time, God has indicated to man how he is to manage portions of that
time. With reference to the Sabbath, God
says, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and
do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it
you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your
manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates”
(Ex. 20:8-10). What we see here is that
while God has given to man the gift of time, God does give man instructions on
how to manage portions of the time which He has given to him.
Witnessing: Another way in which a believer
can use time to the glory of God, is by engaging in witnessing for Jesus. The commission that Christ gave to His
followers has direct implications for the stewardship of time. Jesus’ followers are bidden to go and make
disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19).
This is one command that requires the use of time in order to fulfill
to others: Yet another way of giving glory to God in our use of time
is by rendering service that brings relief to others. One of the characteristics of those who will
occupy the Kingdom of God is that they will have been people who used their
time profitably for the good of others. “For I was hungry and you gave me
something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was
a stranger and you invited me
in, I needed clothes and you clothed me,
I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me”
(Matt. 25:33-36). In fact, you will
notice that the verse first refers to how these ‘candidates for heaven’ used
their material possessions, and then it refers to how they used their time.
Growth: I would remiss if I left out the fact that believers should
use the gift of time to engage in spiritual disciplines that aid spiritual
growth. Such disciplines include Bible
study, prayer, fasting, and Christian service.
It is during the time of engaging in Bible study and prayer that
spiritual growth takes place.
I will propose the following plan for consideration:
Decide to obey God by keeping those portions of time that God has
specifically indicated should be kept.
This would include the keeping of the Sabbath which starts at sundown on
Friday or the sixth day and ends at sundown on Saturday, the seventh day.
activities that you know you need to attend to, such as the study of the Word
of God, engaging in prayers, witnessing for Jesus, doing service to others,
such as hospital or prison visitations and other outreach activities.
how long you plan to engage in each of these activities per week or per day. Having determined how long you will spend on each activity, you then need to allocate portions of time each day to those activities. For example if you indicated that you will spend an hour in the study of the Word of God, you could allocate the hour, for example between 5:30 and 6:30 in the morning as the hour during which you will be doing that. This will call for carefully scheduling and planning.
resolve to do what you have planned to do.
It does not help to have plans that end on paper or remain good
intentions. You need to act on them! There are many people who fail to carry out their plans because they do not bend their efforts to accomplish what they have purposed to accomplish. To such, the counsel of Ellen White is very appropriate. “In their work let them have a definite aim. Decide how long a time is required for a given task, and then bend every effort toward accomplishing the work in the given time. The exercise of the will power will make the hands move deftly” (Christ's Object Lessons, p. 344).
My prayer is that as we grow in appreciation for the gift
of time, we will, as believers, spend our time wisely and according to biblical
principals, so that we may bring glory to God who will soon grant us time
Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six
days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to
the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son
or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any
foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and
the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.
Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all
the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will
be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a
shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right
and the goats on his left.
Then the King will say to those on his right,
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom
prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave
me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a
stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick
and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
Texts taken from the NIV.