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“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second best time is today.” “No one ever saved a minute by worrying.” “You can save time, or you can save money, but not both.”
These sayings are nuggets of wisdom passed down from parents to children, normally when kids are found wasting time. Much like an instructive teacher, the Bible also has a lot to say about our time and how we are to use it. Throughout Scripture, God talks of stewardship and responsibility, so it is crucial to understand that everything, even our next breath, is a gift He gives us for a purpose. In fact, our use of time lies at the center of some of the biggest responsibilities God entrusts to us. Fittingly, God clearly lays out His expectations for our use of time: "Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more." (Luke 12:48b ESV).
If God has blessed you with time – a life to live – then let your response be to give that time back to Him fully.
When you learn to do that, you will learn what it is like to truly LIVE like you are meant to live! I hope that the following reminders will encourage you and help you focus your time toward a greater purpose.
Time and Seasons
For some, thinking about the future can be stressful and overwhelming. Others live in a state of daydreaming about their next step in life. Regardless of which type of person you are, there’s no denying that we all spend a lot of time thinking about the future. Plans, goals, dreams, and new seasons are all great things to work toward. In the same breath, we can become obsessed with these things and forget where God has us at the moment. The author of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 reminds us of this truth in a poem...
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
The future will always be right around the corner, and the season we are in now won’t last forever. In joy and hardship, we are to remember what a gift each season of life is. And with each gift comes the responsibility to honor the creator God with the time we are given right now. As James reminds us, life is temporary (James 4:14), and we are given a specific amount of time, in a specific season, for a specific purpose. Thus, we should strive to honor God in all things.
Each season comes with new challenges and new opportunities. What we do in the face of these challenges and opportunities matters immensely. After all, if God creates us with purpose and value, there is an expectation that our lives are meant for something. Thus when God provides opportunities, we are to heed the teaching of Ephesians 5:15-16, "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil." This can seem like somewhat of an overwhelming task at first until we realize that God doesn’t expect us to do it alone. Jesus demonstrates his care for us in Matthew 6:26 when He teaches, "Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" As servants of the creator God, we can walk into challenges with confidence that our God cares for us, and seize opportunities with the understanding that it is a gift from God.
As these truths become realities in our lives, they demand that we make a change – one that we don’t often like to talk about. Submission.
Once we understand that God, the creator and sustainer of reality itself, creates a time and a season for everything, equips us for challenges and blesses us with opportunities to use for His glory, we start to understand that God’s ultimate calling regarding time is simply that we submit to His will.
By knowing that submission is the key to experiencing true joy, we can then move to a place where even the idea that our days are numbered becomes a positive reminder that we are loved and called to a greater purpose than we could ever conceive apart from God. As the Bible reminds us in James 4:13-15: "Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’”