Helpful Hints on Saving Time (The Practical Suggestions)

 

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Helpful Hints on Saving Time (The Practical Suggestions)

Helpful Hints on Saving Time

Part 2

The Practical Suggestions

 

In the first article on “Helpful Hints on Saving Time,” we looked at the principles that should lie beneath our efforts to save time.  If we can see these Biblical principles, we will be better motivated to apply ourselves to practical time-saving.  These principles are ones that have guided my life and use of time.

But what can we do in a practical way to use our limited time?  Paul prayed that the Philippian brothers might be able to “approve the things that are excellent” or “distinguish between the things that differ” (Phil. 1:10, margin).  The Net Bible puts it this way: “You can decide what is best, and thus be sincere and blameless for the day of Christ.”  This would have many applications, but surely the use of time would be a chief one.  We must “decide what is best” regarding the use of our time!  We are to seek wisdom–a godly use of knowledge.  We need wisdom to know how to use our time so that we will have no regrets at the end of our earthly journey.  How painful it will be for those who end their life with deep regrets over how they used their time.  But how blessed for those followers of Jesus to survey their life with the knowledge that they used their time the best possible way–for the glory of God!

How can we use our time to greatest advantage?  I may not have all of the answers to this, and I also am aware that your situation will differ from mine in various ways.  But the following are a few suggestions for you to apply, if you are able.

1. Make prayer to God your priority. 

Scripture commands, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:16-18).  Paul wrote, “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit” (Eph. 6:18).  Jesus told a parable “to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart” (Luke 18:1).  God wants our prayers!  God deserves our praise!  Prayer to the Lord is our lifeline to Him who is our life.  There are many activities that are worthy in life, but surely our sincere communication with God our Father is at the top of the list.  Arrange your schedule, organize your activities, plan ahead, and let prayer be a regular and important part of your day–from the moment you awake in the morning to the moment you go to sleep at night.  Be willing to set aside other lesser activities, even important ones, so that you will be in regular and continual communion with God your Father.

2. Let Bible reading and study be a second priority

We cannot know God’s will without knowing His Word.  We must know God’s will to enter His kingdom (Matt. 7:21), inherit the promises (Heb. 10:36), and live forever (1 John 2:17).  Therefore, it is vital that we learn that will and then do it.  This knowledge of the Lord’s will and truth comes from a sincere, devoted, regular intake of the Word of the living God.  In your own life, read the Bible every day–both devotionally as well as studiously.  Like the noble Bereans, let us study God’s Word daily.  Let us read His word, study that Word, memorize that word, meditate on that word, and use His word in a practical way.  The righteous man of God is the one who “delights” in God’s Word and in that Word “he meditates day and night” (cf. Psalm 1:1-3; 119:97-105).  Arrange your schedule to include a period of time each day to “consume” a hearty meal of God’s divine word.  This will edify you, encourage you, build your faith, warn you, mature you, and instruct you.  You will meet God when you allow Him to “speak” to you through His written Word.

3. Meet with the saints as often as possible.

Another priority that should be kept in mind daily or as often as possible is meeting with other members of God’s family. We should gather with other devoted and true believers “to stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24).  We are to gather with brothers and sisters to “encourage one another” and let this be a daily activity, if possible (3:13).  This can consume a lot of your weekly time, but it will be time well spent.  Not only will you receive edification from your brothers and sisters, but you will be able to bless their lives as well by giving edification (Acts 2:42-47; Romans 1:11-12). You will be able to use your own spiritual and serving gifts to bless the lives of others (Romans 12:3-8; 1 Peter 4:10-11).  This regular meeting with others for fellowship, for worship, and for upbuilding, will be much more feasible if you live very close to your fellow-believers.  We know that some who are reading these words are not in the ideal situation and may be at a distance from other true Christians.  Do all within your power to be close to other holy and devoted brothers and sisters in Christ.  (See our study, Come Out and Come Together!)

4. Get sufficient sleep, but don’t get too much sleep.

We know that sleep is vital if we would maintain our energy and mental sharpness.  Even Jesus, the Son of God, who was just as human as you and I, found it necessary to sleep (cf. Mark 4:38).  As the psalmist put it: “I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustains me” (3:5).  On the other hand, sleep can be used by the enemy of our soul to bring a waste of precious time.  Too much sleep is also a danger, as Proverbs often reminds us (6:4, 9, 10; 24:33).  Therefore, “Do not love sleep” (20:13).

Do you remember when Jesus took His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane and asked them, “Remain here and keep watch with Me” (Matt. 26:38).  Later, Jesus returned to them and found them sleeping!  He sadly asked, “Why are you sleeping?” (Luke 22:46).  “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour?  Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:40-41).  Too little sleep will keep us perpetually tired and we may not be able to concentrate; too little sleep can bring physical illness and dull our mental acuity.  However, as we have stated, too much sleep will make us sluggish and rob us of countless hours that could be devoted to the Lord and His work!  Use our time to sleep sufficiently–but do not become indulgent in your sleeping.

5. It is often best to begin the day early, when your mind and body are rested.

How refreshing to begin the day early, before the duties of the day beckon us!  Remember that Jesus often arose early: “In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there” (Mark 1:35).  Jesus was not the only one to rise early to seek the Lord.  Abraham “rose early in the morning” to obey the Lord (Gen. 22:3), and Jacob “rose early in the morning” to dedicate a pillar to the Lord (28:18).  God commanded Moses to “rise early in the morning” to appear before Pharaoh (Exod. 8:20; 9:13); Moses “arose early in the morning” to build an altar before the Lord (24:4); and Moses “rose up early in the morning” to go up to Mount Sinai (34:4).  Joshua “rose early in the morning” to lead Israel across the Jordan (Josh. 3:1), to march around the city of Jericho (6:12, 15), and to take the city of Ai (8:10).  You will remember that the women came to the tomb of Jesus on the first day of the week, “early in the morning” (Luke 24:22; cf. Mark 16:2, 9; John 20:1).

Many great men of the past were willing to rise at 4 or 5 in the morning to begin their day of serving the Lord.  The Psalmist prayed, “In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; in the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch” (5:3).  This may be the time for your major daily prayer–before the family rises, while it is still quiet and dark, and before the activities of the day begin.  It may also be the time for your careful study of God’s Word.  It may be a time for your morning walk and exercise.  Begin the day with the Lord!  Let Him be your first thought when you awake!  Devote the day to the Lord—from the very beginning of the day!

6. It may be best to go to sleep earlier than others.

At one time in my life, I would go to bed by 1 or 2 AM, then I would arise about 8 AM.  In this way, I had quiet and uninterrupted time of study and devotion before the Lord late at night.  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow put it this way: “The heights by great men reached and kept, were not obtained by sudden flight.  But they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.”  Late night study and work, therefore, can be used positively on occasion.  (We know, of course, that people of the world stay up for other reasons–wasting time watching television and other worldly activities.)  Generally, however, it is better to “toil upward” in the early morning hours, rather than the late night hours–in order to keep our mind sharp and refreshed.  Try to discipline yourself to go to sleep in good time and get a refreshing night of sleep.

7. Read motivational literature and listen to recorded instruction on how to save time.

Over the years, I have read a number of books with instruction on how to save time, how to organize, and how to cut out unneeded time-wasters.  I’ve also listened to many recorded messages of like character.  All of this has helped me to be more time-conscious and motivated to save time to be used in spiritual pursuits.  Just now, I’m working my way through a book entitled Make Every Minute Count that promises to give “more than 700 tips and strategies that will revolutionize how you manage your time.”  Whether it can live up to this or not, it may give a number of pointers to make my life even more efficient.  Although it is secular in nature, it may give something that will help in my own Christian life.  A very convicting book entitled The Use of Time by Zacharias Fomum has motivated me and given me helpful ideas.  Read what you can to give motivation in your saving precious time and using it in a wise manner.  You would also do well to seen counsel from other believers (both brothers and sisters on how they have been able to use their time wisely for God’s glory).

8. Do more than one thing at the same time.

This is something that most of us generally do, to some extent.  We may drive a car and listen to the radio or tapes or CDs at the same time.  We may sing a song to the Lord, or pray, or review verses, or carry on a conversation with a passenger when we are driving.  You can often do two or even three things at the same time through the day.  Presently, I walk at about 6 AM and either pray to the Lord or listen to teaching recordings at the same time.  You may also be able to exercise while you listen to something edifying at the same time.  Often I listen to something while I am preparing a meal, or I may eat breakfast while I am reading something helpful in the morning.  It is especially easy and advisable to combine a physical activity (working in the garden, doing laundry, washing dishes, cleaning the house, walking, running, mowing the grass, painting the house, building something, sewing clothes, etc.) along with a mental or spiritual activity (memorizing verses, reviewing scriptures, reading, listening to the Bible or teachings, etc.).  You can walk with your children or your spouse and carry on a conversation at the same time.  You can wash the dishes with your family while you sing at the same time.  This is an excellent way to save time in your daily life!  This will help you to redeem the time!

9. Eliminate superfluous, foolish, and unneeded activities.

While it may be interesting to learn something about the history of a certain country, the origin of a certain invention, or the biography of a certain historical character, of what lasting and eternal benefit is it?  When I was a teenager, a couple of professing Christians had gone out to play tennis and one asked why I didn’t do so.  I replied that my time was occupied in the work of the Lord and I didn’t have time for such pursuits.  (Physical activity in itself may be worthy and advisable, while we would question the value of sports, per se.)  If something is merely meant for entertainment, we can generally omit it from our life without ill effects.

Life just isn’t long enough to do the thousands of things that could consume our time.  Remember how Sanballat and Geshem tried to get Nehemiah to stop his rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem after its earlier destruction.  This man of God replied, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” (Neh. 6:3).  Like Nehemiah, we may need to tell people that we cannot stop an important spiritual or family activity to participate in an activity of lesser value.  We may simply need to absent ourselves from time-consuming and time-wasting activities that have no eternal benefit!

10. Find practical ways to save on meal preparation and eating.

Some time-conscious homemakers have devised a system of meal preparation that may be of help to you.  They devote one day a month for cooking and preparing basic meals that will last for a one-month period, then they freeze all of these family meals.  Each day, they take the meal for the day from the freezer and need only add minor accompaniments to make it a full family dinner.  While this may not be feasible for you, we would advise you to use very simple, basic, but nutritious recipes that do not consume a lot of time or require much expertise.  Recipe books are filled with complex, time-consuming preparations and will eat up your limited time.  Meals can be both simple and healthy at the same time.  Eliminate the fast foods and most restaurant eating; prepare simple fare at home and enjoy the blessing of mealtimes with all family members present.

11. Devote as much time as necessary to a given task, but not more than is necessary.

There is an old adage that seems true at first sight, but it really fails to be wise.  You have heard it: “If something is worth doing, it is worth doing well!”  No, this may not be true.  Mowing your grass may be worth doing, but it may not be worth spending five hours a week to keep the best lawn in the block.  It may be worth painting your house every so often, but it may not be worth painting it more than is needed.  It may be worth speed-reading a book, but it may be a waste of time to read a given book meticulously and word for word.  I can recall my practice of the past.  I somehow thought it was advisable to read every single word in a given book.  I can see now that this simply wasted limited time.  The book may have been spiritually instructive and worth reading, but I didn’t need to read every single word of every single chapter to derive much good from it.  Certain tasks may need to be done, but discover ways to do them quickly, without unnecessary complications.  Learn to distinguish between those things that need to be done thoroughly and well, and those things that can be done quickly and superficially.  This will help you to save time!

12. Keep a “To Do” list for your daily activities. 

List all of the activities that you must do each day and check off the items as you do them.  You can also prioritize the items on the list so that you will know which items to work on first.  Further, when you need to go shopping, make a list beforehand so that you will know what to look for when you arrive at and go through the supermarket.  This will help you avoid useless walking the aisles trying to remember what you wanted.  A list can be made out when you go to the building supply place, the library, the post office, the department store, or any place else you may need to visit.  Around the house, make a list of the items that you need to repair, the things that need to be cleaned, and the tasks that need to be done by a given date.  If tasks need to be done on a regular basis, make a “master” list, duplicate it, and then check off the jobs that you complete.  I use such a list for traveling: it lists items that may need to be taken while traveling, and these can be checked off as I pack.

13. Have your children help with household chores.

It is true that babies and young children take much time–to feed, change, clothe, clean, and cuddle.  But as children grow older, they should have work responsibilities around the house that can take at least some of the work burden from your own shoulders.  Let them prepare some of the food for the meal, set the table, clean up after the meal, and wash and dry the dishes.  They can work in the garden, keep their own room tidy, help with the laundry, and help with general cleaning.  Delegate the work that you need to have done.  Worldly children are given little responsibility in the home.  Unbelieving parents wrongly assume that their children should spend their time playing and involved in senseless activities like listening to music, watching television, or playing soccer and softball.  Christian parents who home educate their young can instill a good work ethic into their children that will help to form their character for years to come.  This can also help to make more time for you.  Remember to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).  Let them help around the house—inside and outside—and this can help you save time.

14. Use waiting times to accomplish worthwhile endeavors.

Each of us must spend hours of time waiting, waiting, and more waiting.  Just today, I needed to visit a doctor.  I had to wait an extra 45 or 60 minutes before I was called.  But I was prepared with an edifying Christian book and I also did some writing.  How do you use your own wait time?  I often look out at a waiting room and see people simply sitting, or reading worldly magazines, or watching the TV, or doing nothing at all.  Prepare for times like this.  Take a Bible, an edifying book, writing materials, stationery for letters, pens, or Bible memory cards.  You can also close your eyes and pray to the Lord.  Every moment can be use in a worthwhile way.

Think of the time you use while waiting in the supermarket line, or at the auto shop, or in a traffic jam.  Today I came to a very long traffic light and was able to do a little reading while waiting for the light to change!  Always carry items with you that can be used during this necessary wait time.  Keep them in your pocket or purse.  It is better to lift your heart to God in prayer than to become irritated by unwanted delays.  Take the delay as a cue to seek the Lord!

15. Don’t be defeated by the habit of procrastination.

Procrastinate means “to defer action; delay– to put off till another day or time.”  Sometimes it is wise to wait a period of time before we make a needed decision about something.  On the other hand, we may not want to commit ourselves to some alternative, we may refuse to face the reality that is before us, or we may not want to make a difficult decision.  Often, this wastes time that could have been used in carrying out the action before us.  Along with this, we may lose money that could have been saved if we had made the decision in a timely manner.  We may also lose time that could have been saved if we had done the action sooner.  It is generally a good policy to make a decision as soon as we have all of the facts.

 16. Learn how to read more quickly and efficiently.

This is something that I continue to work on.  I’ve taken two speed reading courses in college, a private speed reading course, and have read “how to” books on reading more quickly.  This has probably helped to some extent, but maybe such a course or book will help you very much.  If you can increase your reading speed from 250 words per minute to 450 or 500 wpm, you will be able to read so much more quickly.  You could read twice as many books!  If your comprehension does not drop, you have just saved yourself a considerable amount of time.  Since so much spiritual good can come through the medium of literature, it will be to your life-long advantage to diligently press yourself to read more quickly.

17. If possible, learn to delegate responsibility.

Although we do not want to escape certain tasks because of laziness or irresponsibility, sometimes we can pass on a work to others who are able to do the work better or more efficiently.  Moreover, it may actually be that person’s responsibility to do the job.  A parent can delegate the responsibility of working in the garden, mowing the grass, making a meal, or cleaning the house.  Just learn to give a task to others when you do not have the time to do it yourself.  Particularly if you do not have the necessary knowledge, skills, or experience, it will be better to ask another to do what he is better at doing.

18. Use wisdom on your job.

As we noted above, the Christian should determine to be a responsible, dependable, faithful employee who is a model to others on the job (cf. Eph. 6:5-8; Col. 3:22-25).  We are actually “slaves of Christ” on the job, ones who renders service to the Lord (cf. Eph. 6:6-7).  On the other hand, the Christian should know that he has higher priorities than his earthly job.  A job must take its proper place in our life.

First, determine to make it to the job on time.  Be prompt.  Plan to arrive a few minutes early and give your boss a full day’s work for a full day’s pay.  However, you need not give more than the rightful and expected hours on the job.  I once worked with a devoted employee who arrived at least a half hour early every day–and sometimes 45 minutes early.  He would just watch television in the breakroom as he waited for the time to begin.  If one works about 250 days in a year and arrives a half hour early every day, this would mean that he gives about 125 extra hours to the job that he does not need to give.  At 45 minutes extra a day, this would amount to about 185 extra hours wasted each year.  If one stays a half hour late each day, without pay, this would be another 125 hours lost a year that could have been used for higher priority activities–conversing with a spouse, reading the Bible, praying, or many other important matters.

Further, you can use your hour lunch break for the Lord, along with your two 15-minute breaks.  This amounts to an hour and a half each day, about 7 ½ hours each week, or 375 hours a year that you can use to not only eat, but also read an edifying book, write letters, review memorized Bible verses, take a walk, pray, or talk to a fellow-employee about the Lord and His word.  “Redeem the time,” Paul would say (Eph. 5:15-16).  The apostle also wrote, “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity” (Col. 4:5).  Use your time to give opportunities to reach out to unbelievers wherever you may be.

You probably don’t have the unique circumstances that I had on a long-lasting job of the past.  I was able to devote at least 20 and as many as 25 hours a week on the job to reading, study, writing, reviewing memorized Bible verses, and praying.  Although I earned very little at the time, this is the one spiritual benefit that I greatly valued.  I was able to serve the Lord with this time and I was thankful for this opportunity.  Maybe some of you do have some free time in your employment.  If so, don’t wile it away; use it for the Lord!  Use it for eternity!

19. Eliminate unneeded activities.

So much of our day is filled with activities that do us no spiritual good.  For example, eliminate the reading of fiction books such as novels.  Eliminate much of the newspaper reading you do.  Glean the basics from your news magazines but don’t become engrossed in the articles that have no real value.  Determine to discard your TV.  This is one of the most absurd, abused and worthless devices you can have in your house.  Besides the harm that it will have on your family, it can captivate your own spirit.  The average person watches TV for about 27 hours a week (ranging from about 18 hours to more than 40 hours!).  While perhaps 5% of what is offered by the networks may be edifying, probably at least 95% either is harmful, worthless, or time-wasting.  Use those 27 extra hours a week for the pursuit of spiritual growth!  As Peter has said, “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

Look for activities in your daily life that serve little or no worthwhile purpose.  Make a mental inventory of your day and ask yourself if each of your pastimes, activities, hobbies, and practices is necessary, useful, and beneficial.  If something isn’t, have the courage to drop it!

20. Be decisive and active!

Much of our time is consumed in just waiting, hesitating, wondering, and planning.  We are getting ready to do something.  We are planning to do something.  We are perplexed about what to do.  And so we delay and wait—and time goes by.  Yes, there is a time to deliberate and plan.  There is the need to have caution and wisdom.  But sometimes we just need to make a decision and act!  Just go ahead and do what needs to be done and refuse to hesitate any longer.  As they say today, “Just do it!” “Whatever you do, do your work heartily” (Col. 3:23).  It has been said, “He who hesitates is lost!”  It has also been said, “Swift and resolute action leads to success; self-doubt is a prelude to disaster” (Cato, 1713).  If we learn to act when we know to act, we can save much time.

21. Make your communication easier and faster.

Communication is so vital in our lives as Christians.  Besides the edifying communication that we want in our marriages and families, we should want to lovingly, sincerely, and faithfully communicate with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  One thing we can do is to try to live close to other believers.  It is much more convenient to have fellowship with fellow-believers if they live 5 blocks away or a mile away than if they live 30 miles away.  (Sometimes we can do little about this problem, but if something can conveniently be done, do it!)  Second, some Christians have found that using email messages can greatly enhance frequent edifying communication with other believers.  It is easier to send a free two-minute message by email than it is to go to the trouble of writing a letter and sending it in a stamped envelope.  Email communication has allowed us to save time, to maintain our relationships, to obtain information.

22. Use the telephone to save time.

Your house telephone and a cell phone can be used to save a lot of time, providing you use these wisely.  It is possible to waste a lot of time on the telephone if you use it unwisely to gossip or talk about unnecessary matters.  But you can use the phone in a positive way–to schedule an appointment, to find out if a store has a product you need, to find the hours of operation of a business, to let others know about an event or meeting, and a thousand other ways.

Sometimes I have driven the car some miles to buy something at a store, only to discover that they didn’t have the product.  If I had only called first I could have saved both money and time!  The telephone company’s slogan says it well: “Let your fingers do the walking!”  Use the white pages and yellow pages and make your telephone call–and you will save much time.

23. Keep a neat and orderly house!

As I write these words, I am living in a very cramped and overfilled apartment.  In the past, I was able to live in a house and this does have its advantages. Hopefully, temporarily I am without adequate housing.  However, wherever you may live, try to keep your residence as neat and orderly as possible.  “Have a place for everything and put everything in its place!”  Have adequate books cases for your books–and arrange your books in logical order so you will be able to find a volume when you need it.  Have a file cabinet and use a neat file system that will enable you to find receipts, tracts, letters, forms, directions, maps, and anything else that you may need.  Use the files you have created and you will be able to locate things much more easily.  Put your clothes, your tools, your cooking pots, your food items, and everything else in the proper place–and this will save much time.  It will also keep your mind more orderly!  Paul the apostle wrote, “All things must be done properly and in an orderly manner” (1 Cor. 14:40).

24. Retire from your job and use your time for the Lord.

Modern retirement practices often lead older people into a selfish life of ease, entertainment, and foolishness.  The American dream says that one should retire at age 60 or 62 and then spend his final years fishing, playing golf, watching television, and traveling. How irresponsible is this perspective!  At a time when older men and women have the opportunity to devote the major portion of their time in the work of the Lord, they choose to gratify their lusts and live a life of pleasure!  “She who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives” (1 Tim. 5:6, ESV).

Some saints may need to work all of their life since they lived sacrificially in service to the Lord earlier in their wage-earning years and could not save for retirement funds.  They laid up treasures in heaven instead on earth (Matt. 6:19-21).  However, if you are able to retire at the normal age, you may be able to devote 4, 6, 8 or 12 hours a day in work for your Heavenly King.  You may be able to serve the Lord for 10 or 20 or more years!  You can read your Bible, write letters, visit sick believers, offer and grade Bible courses, teach the Word to your neighbors or any others you may meet, knock on the doors of your town with invitations to study Scripture, and in many other ways bless the lives of both saint and sinner.  Redeem the time!  Use this increased availability of time for service to the Lord!

25. Get sufficient education–but not too much education.

If you are a young person, you may want to pursue an education to prepare you for your life work.  Obtain the training and skills that you can use in an honorable occupation–for the sake of your family and for the benefit of your fellow-saints.  This training may be legitimate, providing it does not place you into a compromising atmosphere and expose you to courses that would lead you astray or weaken your faith.  Also, be careful of too close a relationship to other students (1 Cor. 15:33; 2 Cor. 6:14-18; Prov. 13:20; James 4:4).  The point we wish to emphasize here is that in your education, take any necessary and helpful courses, but try to avoid courses that will not be of any value to you.  As I look back over my educational experience, there were certain educational courses I took that I’ve never had the opportunity to use in a practical way.  Was this time misspent–time that could have been used in a better way?  If one is home-educated, this should help one avoid the compromises one may find in the world.

26. Maintain the best possible health!

If we want to save as much time as possible so that we will have more time for the Lord and His work, we should seek to avoid physical sickness and disability.  It is true that some devoted believers suffer serious illness, disease, and injury through not fault of their own.  God can use this situation for His own glory and may bring such a believer to a deeper walk with Him (cf. Psalm 119:50, 67; 2 Cor. 12:9-10).  On the other hand, generally sickness will eat up much time that could otherwise be used for serving the Lord.  This is especially tragic when the person is the cause or partial cause of his own physical illness and limitations through his own lack of self-control.  Self-indulgence in eating, laziness in physical activity, the gratification of lusts seen in the use of tobacco and drugs–all of this may bring degenerative illness and loss of massive amounts of time.

When I was about 17 or 18 years of age, I determined to keep in the best possible health so that I would live a long and fruitful life, if God should will this.  By age 22 and 23, I increased my commitment to this purpose of good health and I made appropriate adjustments to my diet to achieve that end.  My nutritional convictions deepened by age 30 and God opened my eyes even wider by age 38 or 39. About age 26, I began to see the importance of exercise and at age 34, I began a lifelong exercise program until the present.  This gives a little background of the commitment that I would urge upon you and your own life.  Begin early—in your childhood and youth—to practice good health principles so that you may be able to serve the Lord without hindrance.

While we cannot determine our physical destiny, or control all factors relating to health, and we surely cannot determine our own genetic makeup, we can do what we know to do to maintain as good of health as possible.  We can eat nutritious food and refrain from health-destroying foods.  We can get sufficient vigorous exercise, adequate sleep and rest, as well as avoid harmful substances and injurious practices and occupations.  Let’s devote our body as a living sacrifice to the Lord (Rom. 12:1) and keep in mind that the Holy Spirit dwells in our body, that it belongs to the Lord, and that we must glorify God in our body (cf. 1 Cor. 6:15, 18-20; 10:31).  Let’s try to keep as healthy as humanly possible so that we will have more time to be actively involved in the Lord’s work.  (See also Devoting Your Body to God.)

27. Major on relationships with other people.

It has been observed that only two things on earth will exist eternally–the Word of God (1 Peter 1:23-25) and people (Matthew 25:46).  For this reason, we should devote major portions of our life to the Word of God (reading it, learning it, sharing it) and to people (our husband or wife, our children, our fellow-believers, and outsiders).  With these priorities in mind, we should have the incentive to minimize the other elements of life that hold lesser importance and emphasize those parts that will promote the Word of God and people.  Look for opportunities to eliminate the low-priority matters or at least decrease the time we need to use with them.  Emphasize that which is eternal.

28. Do things in a wise and timely manner.

Solomon reminds us, “There is an appointed time for everything.  And there is a time for every event under heaven” (Eccles. 3:1).  If we try to be conscious of the best times for our varied duties and responsibilities, we will find that time can be saved.  For example, if we service our car and change the oil in a timely manner, we can save time and money in the long run. If we cut the lawn at the proper time (not too frequently but not too long between cuttings), we can save time in the long run.  If we maintain the house (both inside and outside) in a timely manner, we can avoid major repair expense and extra lost time in the long run.  If we seek the proper education for an occupation, we may be able to save time and earn more in the long run.  If we seek medical counsel and treatment, we may be able to save time consumed in illness.  The saying is “A stitch in time saves nine.”  This can be true for many elements of your life.

29. Do not be pulled away from your commitment to good time stewardship by anyone else.

We know that most people do not look at life seriously.  They are quite superficial in their outlook even when they profess to be Christians.  If you really recognize the brevity of time, the importance of using your limited time for the Lord, and the need to find practical ways to do more, most others simply will not understand.  They may consider you a radical, a fanatic, an extremist, or worse!  Peter says that unbelievers “are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you” (1 Peter 4:4).  Although this must be a reference to the wicked behavior of the pagans, the principle is yet true.  Most others will not share your responsible and wise use of time, and they may make fun of you and accuse you of extremism.

Settle in your heart right now that you will not be deterred.  You will not be pressured to live your life like most others do.  Even if your friends, family, acquaintances, or others may encourage you to wile away your time, be willing to have the resolute spirit and courage to state your convictions and then proceed to use your time as a stewardship from God.  On the Day of Judgment, we will “be recompensed for [our] deeds in the body, according to what [we] have done, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10).  Determine now to appear on that Day and not make excuses for misspent time.

30. Remember time-saving points through your day.

When you go through your day, different ideas will come to your mind.  You may have an idea of saving time in one way; you may remember something that needs to be done next week or next month; you may think of a book you want to read, a Bible verse you want to memorize, a subject you wish to study from Scripture, or a person you would like to visit.  Carry index cards or a memo pad and pen with you and write down these ideas, suggestions, points, and reminders!  This will help you immensely as you go from day to day while seeking ways to employ your time to greatest advantage!

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We hope that these practical suggestions will be a help in your own desire to serve the Lord.  Pursue these and other time-saving points, always seeking to make more time for the higher priority items in your life–learning and doing the will of God, blessing your spouse and family, meeting with and serving your fellow-believers, and reaching out to unbelievers for the Lord.  Your time is limited; it will soon be past.  Use your time now in a way that will glorify God and reach into eternity!

Richard Hollerman

 

See also: Practical Hints on Saving Time (Part 1): The Principles

 

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