Saving Daylight

(You can watch the message from March 10, 2013 here, called….yeah, Saving Daylight)Image

What are you doing with your time? If I were to ask you where your time is spent each day, unless your life is simply consumed by just one or two things, you probably would have a tough time accounting for all of it. Don’t feel too bad (yet), most people are “wasting” away with the same time-killing disease.

If I were to ask “if you had more time, what would you do in your life that you currently aren’t doing? Learn a new language? A new skill? Become more involved in missions? Write a book?

Our biggest excuse for not doing these things is that we simply don’t have enough time. We use that one a lot, don’t we?  Think about what French philosopher, Jean De La Bruyere said:

Those who make the worse use of their time are the first to complain in of its shortness.

Ouch, huh?

Time is one of those things that we take for granted until we become aware that we’re running out of it and all of us are, it’s just that those advanced in years or who are in an advanced stage of some disease or who have had a brush with death seem to realize it more keenly.

Is there a way for us to redeem our time? To take full advantage of the life we have been given and put the reigns around our time so that we know longer waste time, not even spend time, but, as Stephen Covey says, invest it? Think about the difference in terms:

wasting – To throw away with no return; nothing to show for it.

spending – To get something you want, but that’s it. When it wears out, it’s gone.

investing – To use something in such a way that you get a valuable return on what is used.

How do we learn to invest our time so that there is a return on what we use?  Ephesians 5 talks a lot about the way in which we walk.  It lists several sinful practices like sexual immorality and covetousness and others of the “really bad stuff” we’re to stay away from.  These would be categorized as “sins of commission” or things you do that you shouldn’t.  However, just as serious are “sins of omission” or failing to do things you should.  Both have an impact on how you live your life and can prevent you from “walking as children of light…taking no part in unfruitful works of darkness.  So, in light of this, verses 15-17 gives us three principles in how to redeem our time for the glory of God and then I want to follow with six practical steps of application.

Principles for Redeeming Time

1. “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise”

You need to examine your life.  It is imperative that you take inventory of how you spend time to determine if the things you are doing are wise or if you are living your life unwisely or foolishly.

2. “…making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”

Determine not just to use your time, but to invest it wisely. You will not use your time wisely by accident. It will be intentional or it will not be done at all. Because of our fallen nature, our inclination is, generally, not towards good but towards evil. However, for those of us who have been redeemed from our sin nature through believing in and trusting Christ and by repenting of our sins, we have a new nature that is being formed in the image of Christ. Through sanctification (the process of becoming like Christ), we can choose to live differently through the power of the Holy Spirit. But it’s going to take effort!

It’s funny how we say we don’t have enough time in the day to accomplish all that we want to but we’ll spend 2 hours at a time on Facebook! It’s a matter of prioritiesCharles Richards once said, “Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of. One man gets only a week’s value out of a year while another man gets a full year’s value out of a week.”

People throughout history who have made great accomplishments in their lives are not people who had more time than we do today, but people who did more with the time they had. H. Jackson Brown put it this way:

Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.

OK, ouch, again.

We must take time to determine what is the best use of your time because the days are evil. If we are not actively pursuing Christ, we will look for things to “entertain us” and too often those are things that feed our lusts and desires of the flesh.  That is, things that can ultimately destroy us.

3. “…do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

Very simply, this is knowing the revealed will of God through the study of it and hearing how that applies to your life through prayer and meditation. To fail in this is foolishness.

We often use the excuse that we don’t have enough time for Bible study and prayer. Setting aside time for spiritual growth and listening to what God wants you to do during the course of the day is never a waste of time.

We need the attitude of Martin Luther who is famous for saying, “I have so much to do today that I’m going to need to spend three hours in prayer in order to be able to get it all done.”

We will not accomplish anything of lasting and eternal value if we don’t first power up through prayer and getting into the Scripture!

Alright, those are the principles.  Here come the practical steps to apply them:

1. Determine your priorities

What has God called YOU to do? This takes time to determine. Set aside blocks of time to do this. I do this at least twice a year, setting aside at least a half a day at a time.

 2. Determine HOW you will glorify God through your set priorities.

Get into the habit of asking, “How will me investing time in doing this bring glory to God?”

This should be asked of every area of your life, including hobbies and free time/rest time. Depending on what you’re doing, consider these possible responses:  “I’m glorifying God through painting by reflecting His creativity.” “I’m glorifying God through playing baseball by developing the skill and ability to learn He’s given me.” “I’m learning this new language to prepare myself for opportunities to share the Gospel in other cultures.” “I’m taking this time to rest to reflect God’s priority to let by body and mind recover.”

This might sound crazy, but this is intentional living. This is the process of making sure that time is invested!

I’m not being an extremist here. There are things that you do just because you enjoy them. That’s fine, too. At that point, I would simply ask these two questions: “Is this something that pulls my affections away from Christ? Is it something that will control me (become an obsession) or is clearly sinful?  If not, enjoy it in its proper time and place!

Here’s the bottom: if you’re not doing something that is obviously productive or ministry-related or what-have-you, if you are a disciple of Jesus, you still have the responsibility to glorify Him in your life and most certainly to make sure that what you’re doing is not bringing dis-honor to Him.

 3. Decide what steps are needed to take in order to accomplish your priorities.

Count the cost!  Take a class. Invest a certain number of hours each day. Cut out some other activities, etc., but put together some practical steps that will move you down the road.

 4. Structure your day around these priorities.

Invest some time each week or even each night to put them on your daily calendar. This is one of the only way you’re going to prevent being controlled by idle time that will be wasted on Facebook…or reading blogs? Yikes.

I suppose a disclaimer is in order since I’ve been slamming the lord of the social networks: Facebook is fine as long as it’s during time you’ve determined is free or leisure time or during a limited amount of time.  Don’t let yourself be hijacked by a social site.  If you have to, set an alarm to get off in five or ten minutes and then get off!

 5. Measure your progress.

Journal as you go. Set a date on the calendar when you will look back over the time since you’ve started and honestly evaluate how you’ve done and then alter your strategy, if necessary. Change what doesn’t work!

 6. Maintain balance

Find the middle ground between sloth and workaholic.  Enjoy a variety of activities that will keep life interesting and allow you to continually explore all the incredible Truth and beauty that can be found in God’s world.

So, how are you using your time? Spending, wasting or investing it? We need to determine to redeem our time starting right now!  Do you have other tips or suggestions that help you with time management that you would add?