Time is not something we instinctively grasp.
When we were young, we had little concept of time. Our parents and those in authority over us made decisions that kept us on time. They made sure we got up on time, ate at the right time, spent time on the right things, and went to bed on time. As we grew up, we those who were older advise us that one day, when we get older, we’ll see that time flies.
At some point, we shifted from having others in charge of our time to being in charge of it ourselves. Your life is governed by time. You are the one responsible for it. And, perhaps you are even responsible for other people’s time.
And now, as you pause and look over your shoulder, haven’t these last few years flown by?
Time is dominant, but it’s also vital. Which is interesting because of the way many of us use our time. We often lack a sense of the value of time. We thoughtlessly say things like, I have some time to kill, or I have some free time. If we are not careful, we can let minutes, hours, and days pass by without much thought to how we are spending our time.
Are you familiar with the term infinity pool? It’s a term some productivity experts have given to our streams of information and entertainment. Never before have we had some opportunities to be tantalized with new and engaging information or entertainment—and it’s seemingly endless.
Getting to the end of the social media feed is impossible. The news is intent to keep on refreshing. Those on television keep on talking. Before you finish your current show, Netflix has another cued up. Not to be outdone, YouTube has another video in the on-deck circle before the current batter is retired.
The pool is infinite.
We often mindlessly dive into these infinity pools. And, when we do climb back up the ladder and come out? An hour later? Maybe two? Perhaps even more. Where did the time go?
But what if our time is not infinite? What if it is limited?
And, what if it is not our own? What if we’re accountable to someone else for what we do with our time?
What if our time is like our money? Don Whitney observed, “If people threw away their money as thoughtlessly as they throw away their time, we would think them insane.” He’s right.
Time is the quiet oxygen that allows us to breathe in the joys of life. We need it. It’s precious.
The Bible has a lot to say about time. It presents time as a gift. And like every other gift, it comes from God. And, as a result, it must be stewarded. This means we have a job to do and will be held accountable for how we have used our gifts; how well we have done our jobs. The biblical concept of stewardship leads us from squandering God’s gifts to a place of faithful stewardship.
The apostle Paul writes to the Ephesian church and he calls them to live a life of holiness or godliness. He says that they must imitate Christ (5:1) by walking in a way (or living in a way) that honors God. Then he says, down in verses 15 and 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” (Eph. 5:15-16). “Making the best use of time” is, more literally, “redeeming the time.” This is a term that refers to purchasing or buying back. Why must we buy back time?
Because time is precious.
Many people value having a lot of money. But it can’t be more valuable than time; for what use is money if you have no time to enjoy it? Time is the quiet oxygen that allows us to breathe in the joys of life. We need it. It’s precious.
Many people value having a lot of money. But it can’t be more valuable than time; for what use is money if you have no time to enjoy it?
Time’s also valuable because it is limited. Any resource increases in value when there is less of it and a corresponding spike in demand. Think of your time. You have less of it today than you did on Friday. It is evaporating quickly from you. How valuable is what remains?
This is where the concept of stewardship comes in. In short, Paul is saying, “Don’t waste your time.” You mustn’t squander this gift of time. It must be liberated from uselessness and set toward the pursuit the highest end.
In Ephesians 4-6 we have all different types of relationships and responsibilities laid out. We have husbands, wives, children, parents, workers, bosses, church members, and regular citizens. It’s the whole gamut of life. God has called each of us into a sphere and given us responsibilities. He has given us sufficient time. And he has instructed us in his Word.
In another passage, we learn that God has numbered our days (Ps. 139:16). That is, we have a finite amount of time allocated to each of us. We can’t take away from them, but neither can you add to them. Our time is limited by God’s divine sanction. In another passage, we are instructed to number our days (Ps. 90:12).
Many are familiar with Jonathan Edwards’s resolutions. He embraced this concept of stewardship, particularly of time. And as a young man, he wrote, with resolve to never to lose one moment of time but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.
He longed to hear, like the humble servant in Jesus’s parable:
“Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” (Matt. 25:21)
As Christians who desire to live faithfully, we must be intentional. We must live with intentionality rather than passivity, laziness, and a lack of discipline. We would do well to realize that time is a gift to be stewarded rather than squandered.