Time is a relative term that as you get older, you seem to have less and less of. There are many things that “take our time.” Our time is consumed by our job, school, the sports we play, the clubs we are a part of, our relationships, the list goes on and on. When we enter a topic such as “giving”, our mind jumps to money and then, the age old excuse comes, “I don’t have enough money to give.” Now listen to this: when we are asked to give our time, we do the same thing, saying, “I don’t have any time to give.” Having grown up in the church, I have heard plenty of statistics on how much time we have and how much time we “waste” and I’m sure that quite a few of you have had the same statistics thrown in your face. However, I think there is a bigger issue in play here than just us “wasting our time”. We all know we waste time. I once spent an entire day playing video games and binging on Netflix. We know we do it. I think the real issue is that we do it and do nothing about it. A statistic won’t change that, it just shows us what we already know.
So why are we supposed to “give our time?” Before I dive in, I think the word “giving” is a shallow word that gets thrown around. I think a better picture is “sacrificing” our time. Why are we supposed to sacrifice our time? The best church answer that I can give is Jesus. Jesus sacrificed himself for us including his time. I was reading in my Quiet Time, my daily devotional, in John 13. In John 13, we read the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. What does this have to do with time? Well, it doesn’t necessarily, but what it does do is paint a picture of servanthood. What does a servant do? He serves and service takes your time. The point that Jesus makes in this particular passage is that we can teach all day about serving, but being an example of what you are teaching speaks louder. Just like I can talk all day about sacrificing your time but until I actually implement it in my life, it is just shallow words. To look at why we are to sacrifice our time in further detail, we need to talk about what sacrificing our time actually looks like.
I believe that sacrificing our time is to be distributed in two ways.
Sacrificing Our Time to God
It is interesting to note Jesus’ view towards his time with God. He MADE it a priority. Even in the business of his life, you know – healing people, teaching people, hanging out with the disciples, he made it a priority to spend time with his Heavenly Father. Jesus’ earthly ministry–when he started healing and teaching continually–only lasted about three years. In those three years, Jesus made it a priority to pray continually. He made it a habit to pray in the morning (even before the sun was out (Mark 1:35)), he spent forty days in the wilderness (Mark 1:13), and in certain circumstances, he even prayed all night. He recognized the importance of spending time with God. He made the time to do it. The truth remains the same for us. We need to focus our time on God.
Sacrificing Our Time to Others
Let’s take a look at Paul’s life. If you know anything about Paul, you know that before his transformation in Christ, his name was Saul. Saul was a Pharisee and if you know anything about Pharisees, you know that they were consumed with self, making themselves higher than the common Jews. They had wealth, food, the title… they had it all. But God got a hold of Saul’s life and completely transformed him. It was during this time that his name was changed to Paul. Paul reflects on all the time spent on him in Philippians as he is writing, and he says all that he had, everything of “value,” he counts as loss for the sake of knowing Christ. Paul spent his time focusing on God and people. In his spare time, such as when he was in prison (which was quite often), he wrote to the churches and believers that he had met on his journeys. Did he do this out of obligation? No. He did it out of genuine care. Even when he was on the verge of death, sore from being beaten, he didn’t focus on himself, but on others. Is our focus on ourselves or others?
Here is the reality friends, it all comes down to a choice. Where are you going to focus your time? Yes, it’s super easy to focus our time on ourselves, and honestly, this speaks to me probably more than it does to you. But I know that I need to sacrifice and give my time to God and others. If we truly want to have a heart transformed by Christ and want to live for him, we need to stop wasting all of our time on ourselves. Check out Psalm 74:16-17.
Yours is the day, yours also the night;
you have established the heavenly lights and the sun.
You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth;
you have made summer and winter.
~ Psalm 74:16-17 (ESV)
See, time isn’t even ours to begin with. It’s God’s time! You know we would be a whole lot better off balancing our time if we did so with first consulting God and letting him guide us. Here is the deal. I’m not trying to tell you to stop playing video games, playing sports, etc. I’m not planning on stopping those things either. However, I think it is important to be conscious of the choices we make in using our time. No, it doesn’t hurt for me to play video games, but did I need to spend four hours doing so? No, I had homework to do, I could have even been fellowshipping with others, which is also important in moderation, and most importantly I could have cut off two hours and spent those two hours studying God’s Word. So let me ask you: where is your time going?
~ Micah Kitchen, Guest Author for The Heart of Teens