TIME: what have you done with it - 2?
The Bible says, "Look carefully, "This implies that there has to be diligence in the use of time. It can be said that the Christian walk all depends on how time is used. That being the case, the one who carefully uses his time, all the time, has solved all his problems.
Diligence in the use of time implies that there will have to be planning as how time will be used. Normal people plan all that they are taking seriously. They also do not bother to plan that which they consider to be of no consequence. They leave that which they consider of no consequence - of no importance - on its own. It becomes obvious that when a man does not plan how he will use time, he has decided that his time might as well be scattered in any direction. He has, by not planning how he will use his time, handed it over to the devil to plan how it will be used. Time thus handed over to the devil will be gladly received and used by him to build his kingdom and oppose the kingdom of God.
The person who will make the most of time will take time to plan its use carefully and to ensure that all loop-holes through which time might be lost, are blocked. We can, therefore, see quite clearly that the first step in being a good steward of the time that God has given us, is to plan it carefully. Good plans are not only made mentally. They are written down and studied again and again and all improvements are made, until the one doing the planning is sure that they are the best he can have for the time being.
Before anyone starts to think of planning his time, I think there is a step that should precede the planning. It is the step called, "Repentance". There must be repentance for all the time wasted in the past. Consider the time since you first believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. Consider the first day, the second day, the third day, and so on, until the seventh day. Consider the first week, the second week, the third week and the fourth week. Consider the first month, second month, third month, and so on, until the twelfth month. Consider the first year, the second year, the third year and so on, until today. Have you faithfully used the time that God gave you? Or did you waste some of it? As you think back, did you waste hours or days or weeks? Could it be that you might possibly have actually wasted one, two, three or more years?
I was talking one day to a brother who prays for 10 minutes a day and sleep for eight hours. This means that if he lives to be 75 years, he would have spent twenty-five years sleeping and prayed for about six months. My beloved brethren, can you imagine a life in which twenty-five years are invested in sleep as against six months in prayer? Before you blame him too much, it might be good for you to calculate how much time you spend regularly in prayer each day and how much time you spend sleeping, talking and going about purposelessly. There must be repentance for times wasted in the past before one can go on to plan the use of time in the future. The one who refuses to repent will be acting on the presumption that the wasting of time is not a grievous sin. It is, for it is the sin of laziness.
After repentance, the pardoned soul must set out to plan all the time that will be available to him in the future. What is the key issue in the planning of time? I believe the key thing in the planning of time is that priority issues are given the best of the timetable. When you have unallocated time before you, before you start to put down what will be done, work out your priority issues. List them out starting with the one that is the topmost priority and ending with the one that has the lowest priority. For example, one person may work out the priorities of his life as follows:
- Bible reading
- cleaning the house
- and so on.
Such a person will next decide how much time should be given to the priorities of his life. Having decided that, he will take his timetable and block out the time for prayer, ensuring that since prayer is his priority of priorities, it is given the time when he is most likely going to be most alert, strongest and undistracted. This time for prayer is most important. When it has been fitted on the timetable, nothing should be allowed to interfere with it, for it is an appointment with the King of kings. These times blocked for prayer are more important than an appointment with a head of state, for God is the Head of heads of states and none dare to keep Him waiting while they attend to some other person or worse, attend to themselves. One thing that I cannot understand is that people make appointments with God to talk to Him in prayer and while He is waiting for them at the appointed time, they either come late or keep away completely. Who would do that with an earthly ruler? Is it not normal that when a man is told that someone has an appointment with the head of state that he would understand that all else must wait? All appointments with God must be treated with utter seriousness.
I have found out and have proved that it is possible to give God an average of twelve hours a day in a year, considering that fact that there are Saturdays, Sundays, Public holidays, and holidays available during which eighteen to twenty hours can be given to the Lord. Of course, this requires discipline and sacrifice, but what is wrong with discipline and sacrifice? There will be billions upon billions of years for relaxing and enjoying oneself in eternity. If the time at one's disposal now is spent in the luxury of sleep, ease, and the like, what will be done with the enjoyment of the age to come? Who ever accomplished anything substantial and great at no cost? Ghandi paid a great price for the independence of India, Churchill paid a great price to overcome the Nazis, the Americans paid a great price to become independent, and so on. There must be great sacrifices of comfort and all else so that time is well invested in the accomplishment of life's goals.
In the use of time, anyone who is not absolutely wicked will ensure that he does not waste the time of another person. Take for example, there are some brethren who bring problems to me which they do not need me to solve. The answers are quite obvious to them and yet they want to waste my time. That is being unkind. There are others who have problems for which other brethren can offer very satisfactory answers and still they bring these to me. This, too, is being unkind. Thirdly, there are others who bring problems to me which they could simply have asked the Lord and He would tell them. In bringing these problems to me, they do me harm and prevent themselves from getting to know God. Fourthly, there are those who bring problems to me whose answers could have been received from the Lord were they willing to wait before Him, cry out to Him and insist that He answers them. They do not only waste my time by bringing such problems to me, they rob themselves of the progress that could have been theirs were they willing to wrestle with God in prayer. In addition to the waste of my time and their hindered progress is the fact that I could be wrong. The best answers are received from the Lord. He alone is right all the time. He alone has limitless time and can be consulted without waste of time and without risk that He might give the wrong answer.
I suggest that before you go to see someone about your problem, you should honestly ask yourself the following questions and sort things out before you go:
- Do I not know the answer to my question?
- Do I not know what the Word of God says about the matter?
- Am I seeking counsel so as to run away from a step of obedience to which the Lord has called me?
- Have I prayed about the issue?
- Have I prayed seriously about the issue?
- Have I cried out to God and He has not answered me?
- Is there someone else who could help me apart from the person I want to see?
- Have I asked the Lord to show me whom I should consult in this matter.
These and other questions will help you to redeem the time of others and your own.
We must spend less and less time with people and more and more time with God. We must love people enough to send them to go and seek God instead of becoming their god and giving them superficial answers. Time spent answering questions for people who could have the answers from God, through prayer, is not ministry time. It hinders time, for it hinders the person who asks the question from getting to know God and hinders the person answering the question from deeper fellowship with God, through concentration on the musts of his life.
Time wasted helping people who do not need help is time really lost. There are some believers who have made it the business of life to render unneeded help. They imagine that people have problems and they start to offer solutions. They think they are doing the work of God while actually, they are standing in God's way and in man's way too!
If each believer spent more time in God's presence, the rest of the time will be better used. I pray that God will do something in your heart and in mine so that the company of people will become increasingly uninteresting and the company of God will become increasingly desirable. "O God, do this thing in my heart. O Lord God, I pray that your companionship will be so satisfying, so fulfilling that the companionship of men and women will become an increasing burden (when compared with Yours) so that I will increasingly run away from the presence of man and invest my time in Your immediate presence. Lord, touch my heart in such a way that You will become my ever-increasing joy, my ever-increasing satisfaction, my ever-increasing all, so that I will invest my time more and more into knowing You, loving You and worshipping You."
There is need for the believer to practise the art of keeping his mouth shut. First of all, talking leads to a waste of time. Secondly, talking leads to gossip, levity, and a whole array of other sins.
So we are admonished to redeem the time for the days are evil. Time must be planned, for the days are evil. Planning includes giving the best time to the foremost issues. It includes resisting all attempts to be sidetracked from the primary issues into secondary ones. It includes an accurate record of all time that has been spent and what actively took what time. It means that time should be set aside each day for evaluation of the use of time and for repentance before the Lord and towards the Lord for time that has been wasted.
Are there other things that could be done to redeem time since the redemption of time is a foremost issue? Yes there are. A question must be asked, "Is there something that I am doing, which could be done by someone else, in order to liberate me so that I can give myself more fully to something of higher value?" The apostles faced this type of problem. There were spiritual and material needs in the Church. They found that they did not have the time to meet both needs and so they said, "It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God and serve tables. Therefore brethren, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this duty. But we will devout ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word" (Acts 6:2-4). They gave part of the responsibility to the seven. They gave the seven what the seven could do and they kept for themselves that which only they could do and in a way that satisfied God. The principle is that there are things that can be done by others which must be handed over to them to discharge, so that those who are overburdened may give themselves to doing that which only they can do. Let me illustrate it this way. If the Head of State had to cook his own food, wash his own clothes and clean his own house and all such duties, he will not have time to do those duties which only he can do. In order to redeem time, others are employed to carry out these duties which they can carry so that the Head of State can invest himself fully and wholly into the crucial matter of the leading the nation. Of course, this will mean that money is spent to hire people who will serve him. Yes, money will be spent on these people but that is money well spent, for were it not spent, the nation would collapse. Take for example that the Head of State had to cook his own food, wash his own clothes and the like, and that these activities took eight hours and he was still able to invest eight hours into leading the nation. By employing other people to serve him, he would then be able to invest sixteen hours in leading the nation and what a difference it would make!
(From the book The Use of Time Part 2 pg 24)