“Time, you ain’t no friend of mine.”
A popular ‘90s song proclaims these lyrics, and they certainly reflect society’s perspective on time. We often lament its passage. Yet, we’ve gotten pretty good at inventing ways to waste it.
But as Romans 12:1-2 lays out, we’re called to live differently – presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice, a spiritual act of worship. So how can you be a good steward of your time, using it in ways that are holy and acceptable to God? Here are three tips:
1. Give God your best time of day.
Some friends are shocked to learn that I get up at 5:45am each weekday, even though I’m not due into the office until 9am. True, I’m a bit of a slow poke when it comes to getting ready in the morning. But there’s another reason: as a believer, I’m called to be in the Word daily. And I know that it won’t happen any other time but first thing in the morning.
After work, the cares of the day are weighing on my mind. And my energy is usually zapped by 8 or 9pm. So, when I made the decision to build focused time with the Lord into my day, I realized it needed to be in the early hours of the morning.
In Psalm 1:2-3, the subject’s delight “is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers…”
Indeed, starting my day in the Word and in prayer is like a cool glass of water, transforming and renewing my mind, supplying the spiritual fuel I need for the rest of the day. I have never regretted going to bed early, or setting my clock for 5:45am.
Maybe you’re the exact opposite of me – a night owl. Or maybe you hit your peak during your lunch hour. Whatever your best time of day, find it and offer it to the Lord.
2. Continually resist the temptation to fall into idleness.
This world is bursting with opportunities to escape from daily life. For me, it’s easy to skip the workout in favor a Netflix binge or get distracted at the office every time the latest breaking news alert comes across on my phone.
Don’t get me wrong – watching a movie or reading the news aren’t necessarily bad things. And rest is essential to keeping gas in the tank. But even when I’m well rested, I sometimes find myself burning daylight. I allow mindless activities to take the place of productivity.
From the very beginning, God put the Adam and Eve in the garden to work it and take care of it (Genesis 2:15). We as human beings were created to be productive.
When I find myself getting sucked into an unproductive hole, I think of the woman in Proverbs 31:27 who “watches over the affairs of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.” The bread of idleness may look tasty, but it’s really just a bunch of empty calories with no nutritional value. It’s a waste of the time God has given me – time I should be using for His glory.
When you’re inclined to be lazy, ask God how He wants you to redeem that moment and remind yourself to keep moving.
3. View your time with an eternal perspective.
Followers of Christ have an amazing gift: we can rest assured that we each have an address in Heaven.
Yet, the title of Mark Cahill’s book, “The One Thing You Can’t Do in Heaven” has always stuck with me. That is, you can’t share your faith in Heaven. It’ll be too late.
God placed each of us on earth for such a time as this. He does not desire to see anyone perish, but to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). But time is short.
As believers, He has given us jobs to do. Everything we do with our time – whether during our 9 to 5 jobs or Saturday afternoons or paid time off – should ladder up to the advancing the gospel.
What does this look like practically? Invite your co-worker to church. Shovel your elderly neighbor’s driveway after the next snow storm. Go on a mission trip to support church planting efforts in a remote part of the world. Be Jesus’ hands and feet, and find opportunities to tell people about Him while it is still called Today. As it says in 2 Corinthians 6:2, “now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”
Will all of this take sacrifice? Absolutely. When my to-do list seems overwhelming, my mind invariably goes to an old episode of the 90s sitcom “Saved by the Bell” where Jessie Spano yells to Zack Morris, “There’s no time! There’s never any time!”
But it’s not about MY to-do list. It’s about the Lord’s and what HE will have me do with my time. And I’ve discovered that once I yield to His will, He’ll not only make the time that I didn’t think I had, but He’ll also show me that – like Christ’s death on the cross – what I once considered to be a sacrifice, in the end, turned out to be a blessing.