If you haven’t said it today, you probably said it yesterday or the day before and will likely say it again soon. I’m talking about that favorite phrase, that lame lament, that regretful reason given up by the harried and hurried modern citizen, “I would/should/could but I just don’t have the time.”
I know in my own life, and I’m sure in yours, that there are plenty of things we would like to do if we had more time. So “I don’t have time” isn’t always a lament or an excuse. Sometimes, it’s the cold hard truth. We live busy lives, but there are some truths about time that we need to stay in touch with so that our reasons don’t morph into excuses.
Fact #1: We all have the exact same amount of time at our disposal: In one year we have 12 months, or 52 weeks, or 365 days (or 366 days in a Leap Year), or 8,760 hours, or 525,600 minutes, or 31,536,000 seconds. Those last few are big numbers! The time we have is the time we get—which leads to the second fact.
Fact #2: Our time is in our hands. I know there are exceptions to what I am about to say, so take this as a general principle: We decide how to use our time. You may think your boss dictates how to use your time at work, or that your two-year-old makes your time decisions at home, or that your physical challenges and limitations determine how you spend most of your time. And you’re right. But I’m talking here about the Big Picture of Life—we are creatures of will and choice, and we apply those freedoms in ways that end up occupying our time.
Fact #3: For Christians, this one is most important: Time is a gift from God which makes us accountable for how we use it. We are stewards of the Lord Jesus Christ. And our time—along with our talents and treasure—belongs to Him. Everything we have comes from God (1 Chronicles 29:14) and is to be used for His glory, including our time.
Getting a handle on our time and our accountability for it as stewards of God is not easy. When we have occasion to step back and look at our stewardship of time, we may find that it is slipping through our fingers in ways we didn’t realize.
How much total time do we have? The average life expectancy in our world is 72 years. That’s right in line with the 70-80 years Moses suggested we have on earth (Psalm 90:10).
Allow the following principles from God’s Word to encourage you to think about how you are using the time God has given you, and how you can use the time you have left on this earth:
1. Time is fleeting. David, the psalmist, prayed that God would help him to “know [his] end,” to know “the measure of [his] days,” to help realize “how frail [he was].” “Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor” (Psalm 39:4-5). How quickly does a vapor vanish? In mere moments. We must translate our intentions into actions before it is too late.
2. We should number our days. Echoing Moses’ prayer is a good exercise: “So teach us [Lord] to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). Ask God for a “heart of wisdom” about using your days wisely.
3. Redeem the time. Paul says to walk “not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16). Think about your practices and pursuits. Become conscious of how you are using your time. Develop a sense for when something good has taken the place of what is best, and make choices that reflect your kingdom values.
4. Live with a divine appointment book. “Be wise … ; make the most of every opportunity” (Colossians 4:5, NIV). While large changes in our priorities may be appropriate, there are many smaller opportunities to serve kingdom purposes with our time if we consider every moment a divine opportunity.
One day, from heaven’s perspective, we will see what fruit was borne from the seeds of time we sowed. Use your time well for the kingdom of God so you may look back on it with joy and thanksgiving.
Dr. Jeremiah is the founder and host of Turning Point for God and senior pastor of
Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California.
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