Helpful Hints on Saving Time
For all of my adult life, I have had a keen desire to save time. This interest began and has been maintained because of several key principles in the Word of God. Id like to share these Biblical principles with you. After this, in our second article, Ill offer a number of suggestions that I have found particularly helpful.
1. Our life is extremely brief compared to the vastness of eternity.
Oh, the vastness of eternity! It is time without end! After living for a hundred thousand million billion trillion years, eternity will just be beginning! All people will one day be given either eternal life and eternal joyor eternal destruction and eternal fire (Matt. 25:41, 46). We try to grasp the truth of eternity but it eludes us. We mortals just cannot fathom endless existence!
Scripture often refers to the eternity of God. For instance, Paul refers to the Lord as the eternal God (Romans 16:26). The psalmist writes, Before the mountains were born or You gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God (90:2). In contrast, the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years, yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; for soon it is gone and we fly away (v. 10). Our days are numbered and we will soon die. How vital it is to use every moment of this fleeting life for the glory of God! How imperative to use the few moments of our life in a way that will count for eternity! What we do now will be reflected in the life to come!
2. The only things that really matter, in light of eternity, are spiritual and eternal in nature and honor our Creator.
Ive always appreciated the little saying: Only one life, it will soon be past/Only whats done for Christ will last! Only one life! This one life will soon be done! Only what we do for the Lord will stand the test of time. Jim Elliot wrote, He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose! We give our time, our energy, our talents, our possessions, our allthat we may one day receive eternal life that will never end! The fool is the one who uses his momentary life for momentary selfish pursuits that will soon come to an end.
3. If we follow the example of the Lord Jesus, we will see the importance of our use of irreplaceable time.
Jesus realized that His earthly life would be brief (a mere 33 years), thus He determined to make the best possible use of the limited time He had. He said to His disciples, We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work (John 9:4). Just as a farmer has only the daylight to harvest his crops, so the Lord had a short time to reap His harvest. At another occasion, Jesus declared, Do you not say, There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest (John 4:35). Today is the harvest time! Today is the time to reap! We must not delay to accomplish what we want to on this earth!
One time Christs disciples said to Him, Everyone is looking for You. He replied, Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for (Mark 1:36-38). Our Lord knew when to delay but He also knew when to press on to other necessary tasks and dutiesfor He knew that His time was short. Our time is also short and we need to use it well!
4. We must continually redeem our time on earth for the Lord.
Our time is irreplaceable. Paul wrote, Be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil (Eph. 5:15-16). This could be translated, redeeming the time or buying up the opportunity to use the present time for God. The apostle says that the days are evil. Today, we also are living in an evil age, in an evil world, controlled by the evil one (1 John 5:19). How crucial it is that we use every available moment on earth for the Lord!
5. We can never regain time that has been squandered on senseless, worthless, and inferior activities and pursuits.
How sad it would be to come to the end of ones life and be aware that that single life we had was used for selfish purposes, without redeeming value. Think of ones few short years being used in a trifling way (sports, entertainment, and a thousand other pastimes) that has no eternal purpose. Just as we store up treasure in heaven by using our material resources to glorify God (Matthew 6:19-21; 1 Timothy 6:17-19), so we can store up treasure in heaven by using our limited time for the cause of Christ. Are you and I sending our treasure of time in heaven? Do we diligently seek to eliminate the needless and worthless things in our pursuit of that which is of eternal value?
6. We should prioritize so that we spend our limited time on those activities that are most important.
Many scriptures would demonstrate the truthfulness of this statement. For example, Jesus said, Seek first His [Gods] kingdom and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33). Paul had a similar perspective. He said, One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:13-14). We all have just so much time. God wants us to focus on the most important of all the possible alternatives. There are a thousand good things we could do with our time, but we cannot do them all. Lets concentrate on the better or even the best of all these good things. Someone has wisely said, The good becomes the enemy of the best. Are we so busy doing the good that we have little or no time left for the very best in Gods sight?
7. Live life with a passion and true devotion.
Too many people meander through life without a true devotion to the task of living for Jesus Christ. Jesus says that they are lukewarm instead of being hot for the Lord and His work (cf. Rev. 3:15-16). Remember that Paul tells the Christian slaves, Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men (Col. 3:23). Heartily comes from the Greek, ek psyche, which means out of soul. Our heart, soul, and spirit should impel us to workto work for the Lord Jesus. Solomon likewise wrote, Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might (Eccles. 9:10). If we are truly devoted to the Lord, we may be surprised at how much we can accomplish for His cause! This is the reason that we are here, isnt it! Lets remember Pauls encouraging words: Not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord (Rom. 12:11). With the power of the Spirit, we should live life with a passionand this will help us to make the best possible use of our time.
8. We must be a person with self-discipline and self-control.
We are living in a soft and self-indulgent age. We are spiritually, morally, and emotionally lazy. Since the infamous 1960s, the philosophy that has captured the hearts of people is encapsulated in the slogan, If it feels good, do it! The ungodly are those who lack self-control (2 Tim. 3:3). In light of this, the Christian must manifest the fruit of the Holy Spirit that includes self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). We must add self-control to our faith (2 Peter 1:5-6) and diligently apply ourselves to this virtue.
Notice Pauls convicting word to us: Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. . . . I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified (1 Cor. 9:25, 27). Just as a super athlete in the Olympic games carefully watched his diet, devoted himself to physical exercise, and avoided bodily vices so that he might be the winner and receive an earthly prize, so the Christian must also practice self-control and self-discipline in His running the race of life. This is the spiritual attitude we must have if we would be motivated to save time by eliminating the negative and pursuing the positive in life.
9. We are stewards of our time as well as our whole life.
Some people assume that their time belongs to them! Not so! My time is the Lords timefor it has only been given to me as a stewardship. Paul wrote, It is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy (1 Cor. 4:2). A steward is literally a house manager. This means that we are appointed by the Lord to care for, watch over, and use the possessions, the skills, the talents, and the time that He has given to us. It is just as irresponsible and sinful to misuse the time God gives to us as it is to misuse the possessions that have been granted to us. Lets begin to carefully use our time because it belongs to Jesus Christ!
10. We should use our time with the realization that God sees and knows how we use every moment.
We all know that God knows all about us. The LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts (1 Chron. 28:9). We also know that the Lord Jesus said, I am He who searches the minds and hearts (Rev. 2:23). The psalmist David expressed this well in Psalm 139:1-3:
O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
If God is God, He is ever-present (omnipresent) and knows all (omniscient). But do we keep this in mind? Are we consciously aware of it? On the other hand, do we go through life while deliberately avoiding the fact that God is watching us and knows all that we do? If we kept this in mind at all times, would we use our days, hours, and even moments more responsibly and wisely? Would we avoid the unwise words and actions; would we turn from the sinful pastimes and practices; would we be more careful to do those things that please our God? Lets begin to make our decisions on time-use with this deliberate remembrance of our Creators omnipresence and omniscience.
11. Let genuine love be your motivation in using and saving time.
We must always keep in mind the greatest two commandments. Jesus tells us of the foremost or greatest of the commands: You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength (Mark 12:30). This is a radical, transforming, consuming love that affects all that we do in our daily life! He goes on to inform us of the second greatest command: You shall love your neighbor as yourself (v. 31). He then declared, There is no other commandment greater than these (v. 31; cf. Matt. 22:37-40). Love for God and others should be our motivation in life, our passion, and our underlying principle of action.
If we have genuine lovea love without hypocrisy (Romans 12:9)this will affect all that we do in life. It will be fundamental in our using time. Well want to employ time for the service, work, love, and glory of God! Well also want to use our time to express our love for other peopleespecially our fellow-believers, but including all men (John 13:34-35; Gal. 6:10; 1 Thess. 5:15; 1 Peter 1:22; 4:8). We will be willing to demonstrate love by laying down our life for our brothers and sisters and giving to their needs (cf. 1 John 3:14-18; 4:7-11). Some people may say, I can live as I please. I dont hate anyone! God would say that, far from not hating someone, we must sincerely love othersand express this love in the way we use our time in serving others (cf. Gal. 5:13; Heb. 6:10; cf. Matt. 25:31-46).
In our second article on Helpful Hints on Saving Time, we will list and discuss many different suggestions how you can personally save time and have more time to give to the Lord and His service.