SERMON

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."

Pardon

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

it.



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

it.



Service

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.



Spiritual

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.



PRACTICAL TIME-STEWARDSHIP

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.

List those

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.



Determin`e

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.



Lastly,

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

everlasting!

KEY TEXTS

Psalms 90:10

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.



Exodus 20:8-11

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.



Matthew 25:31-36

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.

Pardon Mwansa

Vice President, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

In almost 35 years of

service, Pardon Mwansa has, prior to his current position, served as Literature

Evangelist; District Pastor; Departmental Director at Conference, Union and GC

levels; President of Zambia Union, Eastern African Division, and Southern

Africa-Indian Ocean Division; and speaker/producer of the “Wait a Minute

Pastor” program on Hope TV. He is the Chancellor of the Adventist University of Africa. He holds a bachelor's degree in

theology, a master of divinity degree, and doctoral degree in missiology from

Andrews University and has a real passion for God's Church. Pardon Mwansa was

born in Zambia. He is married to Judith and they have four children.

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