When I contemplate about some of the greatest things we can waste, “time” always comes to mind. Once gone, it’s gone. Utterly unredeemable and lost forever. We can redo things, we can start anew, but ultimately, once you lose it, it’s lost. When I think of lost time, I remember the story of a certain senseless captain called Sir Martin Frobisher. He had found fool’s gold in North America in the 16th century. But to him, it wasn’t fool’s gold, it was the real deal: gold. He spent months mining it with several hundred people and made two risky transatlantic voyages to bring back several hundred tons of this gold back to England. Luckily, only one of his ships sank in the whole escapade. After convincing the Queen it was gold, she had a special smelting plant built just for it. There followed a five year period of unsuccessful smelting before it was dumped into road building materials, leaving Sir Frobisher a poorer man.¹ What a devastating waste of one of the most precious commodities: time. All humans, regardless of their background, time and place of existence on earth, have it. Granted, each of us has our own amount, but everyone is constantly investing the time they were given, for better or for worse. The apostle Paul was very much aware of this limited commodity, writing to the Ephesians:
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.²
There’s no doubt that time management was, is, and will be a forefront concern for humanity. Our calling as Christians is not to merely pass time, but rather to utilize it effectively for Christ’s advancing kingdom: that is, if we have acknowledged that we ourselves are to be the willing vessels fit for his use. It’s not about having a glamorous and publicly recognized work, but it might be about giving the last two mites, or relinquishing our rights to something we call our own without ever being congratulated on Instagram or flashed in a snap. So, what are some ways we can evaluate ourselves and not merely assume that we‘re investing our time well? I personally find these three checks helpful in evaluating whether I am focused on the essentials of life:
- Does my life require God to work? Am I being more and more transformed into the image and mind of Christ? The blind cannot lead the blind, neither can those carelessly growing cold inspire those around them to love God more. It’s honestly too easy to feel like we’ve arrived at a “good point.” Setting aside time for personal devotions can be difficult at times. But even our Lord Jesus spent many nights in communion with his Father. Shouldn’t we let that make an impression on us? Do you take time out of your important schedule for God?
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.³
- Am I living for others? This can mean both doing certain things and not engaging in other things. We are to live a life of righteousness and reflect the glory of the Father to those around us. When we engage in something that dishonors Christ in us and his Word, we are only living for ourselves regardless of the motives. Jesus was so committed to others that he literally poured out his soul to death in service for others. He also didn’t shirk from responsibility by speaking the truth, at times with very tough love. But it was always with the intent that people would recognize that he requires our all in following him. We must also relay that in the gospel of Christ that we preach and live out. After all, we are commissioned to be his ambassadors while here on earth.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.⁴
- And lastly, stemming from the previous point: am I engaged in God’s work? Can I see where I am actively advancing the kingdom of Christ? Am I investing or am I merely along for the ride and relying on a “collect heaven” ticket in my back pocket? What a pointless and empty life it would be to find that you had often been thoughtlessly wasting excessive amounts of the limited time you were given! Every great work has had time, effort, and discipline invested somewhere before it came to fruition. Yet once we’ve established or attained something, it’s easy to admire ourselves and wallow in pride. Don’t desire earthly glory; it should have been relinquished it at the cross. You just might not be publicly recognized, you might not rack up the thumbs-up counter, but the reward is to come if you persevere to the end. Study to show yourself approved to God. Develop your talents. Utilize the gifts God has given you. Have faith and love always in everything that you do. All in all, strive to redeem the time which God continues to grant you.
¹ Martin Frobisher, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Frobisher
² Ephesians 5:15-17
³ James 4:8
⁴ 1 Peter 2:9
All Scripture references were taken from the ESV.