I think this is probably the best topics in regards to doing a series on stewardship. The reason I believe this to be true is the simple fact that time is the one thing that transcends all of us. Some of us have more money than others. Some of us have more talent than others. Some of us have families and others do not. But the one thing we all have the same amount of is time. At any given moment at any given time, we all have equal amounts. Death is not the only great equalizer in the world…time is as well. So, the difference between all of us is the management of that time…or the mismanagement thereof.
Not only that, but time doesn’t stand still and wait for us to decide what to do with it. A large sum of money can sit in the bank indefinitely while we pray on what God would have us to do. We have that luxury with a commodity such as money. But it’s not so with the management of time. Time must be managed literally on a moment-by-moment basis. It takes careful planning and decision-making ahead of time, and a strong sense of priorities to make moment-by-moment decisions about the usage of time. Because once it’s gone, that moment of time is never coming back.
John Randolph (1773-1833) was a Congressman and diplomat from Roanoke, Virginia who realized the high value of being able to manage time wisely. He said, “Time is at once the most valuable and the most perishable of all our possessions.” Time is valuable because it’s ours only once and it leaves us ever so quickly. It’s the most perishable because it takes but a moment to go to waste. Eating lunch in front of the television may not be the biggest waste of time, but to still remain watching the television two hours after your lunch is finished, to the neglect of other responsibilities truly is a big waste of time, especially if you got yourself “involved” in something you had no plans on watching in the first place. Those two hours that were so valuable perished in that same time frame, to return nevermore.
One thing about time that separates one person from another is the efficiency by which they get things done. It’s this efficiency that makes these people appear to have more time on their hands. One of my former pastors, the late Harry Boyle from Grace Baptist Church in Portland, Maine recognized this concept and challenged us in a sermon once. God seems to make 90% go farther than the 100% when we practice tithing our money. Pastor Boyle challenged us to try tithing our time. Essentially believing that if we give God 2.5 hours each day to His work (praying, studying, ministering, etc.) that the rest of the things we do in the day would be done so more efficiently and we’d actually find ourselves with seemingly more time. But that requires discipline and a stark realization that we don’t have time to waste.
Psalm 90:12 reads, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.” And what can be a wiser decision to make regarding the use of our time than to commit to do what God wants us to do first, before we decide on anything else. Tithing is giving a portion of our firstfruits. Therefore, we should tithe our time by planning and committing to doing the things God desires out of us that day FIRST, and “squeezing” in the other less important things later, such as personal leisure activities like watching television and the like.
That sentiment is reflected in James 4:13-15: “Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” In other words, because our lives go by so quickly and we will reach the end of our days at some point, we should be focused on what the Lord wills for our lives FIRST, and then, if He allows, what we want to live for second. Spending our time doing the will of God should be our priority.
Ecclesiastes 3:15 explains the reason we should put God’s will first with respects to the stewardship of our time: “That which hath been is now, and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.” We will have to give an account for the use of our time…good and bad…and receive or lose rewards. Did we utilize our time in the service of others first and ourselves second? That’s the mark of a true steward. A good steward ensures others are taken care of first. Be concerned for, and focus on others. In Luke 12:42, the steward was given the entire master’s household, to give to them their portion of food and provisions when it was time for such things. In other words, the steward was ruler over the master’s entire household, including his possessions, and the steward was instructed to dole out those possessions to the members of the master’s household. It said nothing of how the steward was going to get along and survive himself. The steward was expected to deliver the master’s goods to the master’s people, when and how he was directed, without the steward first thinking of himself. But God promises to take care of us (Galatians 6:9) just as the master promised to bless the steward one day (Luke 12:42). Remember, we’ll be asked for an account…be sure you utilize your time with a desire for others first.
You know what our problem is when it comes to stewardship of our time? We’re selfish. We think that when it comes to ourselves, there’s so little time we’re willing to share with other people. So we focus on ourselves first and then use some ridiculous form of logic that says there’s plenty of time when it comes to others. It’s like this…
Three apprentice demons were training with Satan, devising methods to hinder the work of evangelism. The first demon said, “I will trip up all of mankind by telling them there is no God.” Satan replied that deep down, people know intrinsically that there is a God, and that he would have to do better. The second apprentice demon said, “I will tell people there is no Hell.” Satan said that most Christians believe there is a Hell, so that wouldn’t be an effective way to do to harm to the work. Finally the last demon cried out, “I GOT IT!!!” Satan was anxiously awaiting this demon’s suggestion for creating apathy within the church. The demon said, “I will tell Christians that there is no hurry. I’ll plant in their minds the most dangerous delusion there is…that there is plenty of time.”
In other words, when it comes to our fun, we feel that “times a wastin.” When it comes to others, especially those times when we need to sacrifice our time for theirs, we often opt out because there’s “plenty of time” to evangelize, do tract distribution, teach vacation Bible school, etc…later!!! Some other time!!! Next year!!! Today I want to play golf. This year I want to take that vacation during evangelism emphasis week. I’ll get involved next year!!! There will come a time when our “next year,” or their “next year” won’t come. Then, they lost, we lost, and that apprentice demon won.
We’re all old enough to understand that life is finite. One day we will die or be raptured up. In either case, our time on earth is finite. Everyone else’s time here on this earth is finite. Don’t let the devil trick you into believing that you have plenty of time to give to God’s service later. The Psalmist in 89:47 asked God to remember how short his time was as He was dealing with the Nation of Israel. Life’s too short to have God levying a chastening hand. In direct reference to the service of God, Paul reminds us in 1st Corinthians 7:29 that time is short. Since time is short, Paul exhorts us in Ephesians 5:16 to “redeem the time” which means take the time you’re given and cash it in. Utilize it for God’s sake and others’ sakes.
Elizabeth Dole said, “Life is not just a few years to spend on self-indulgence and career advancement. It is a privilege, a responsibility, and a STEWARDSHIP to be lived according to a much higher calling.” In other words, the main purpose of our lives now, as it relates to the stewardship of time, is to be sure we understand that it’s about God, and not so much about us. It’s about God’s will and the needs of others before it becomes about our will and our needs.
I hope this helps you to realize that it’s time to take time seriously!!!