Making The Best Use Of The Time
Last night at the dinner table my nearly-fifteen-year-old son was trying to explain how he wanted to rearrange the furniture in his room. He sometimes lets his mouth get moving faster than his brain (like his father), and as a result some of the details got confusing and I was having trouble understanding. I also had many “important things” on my mind and didn’t feel like I had time to figure out whatever it was my son was trying to tell me. I quickly dismissed him saying, “I don’t get it, this doesn’t make sense, you can just show me later.” After dinner my wife was able to get me alone for a few moments in order to bring to my attention to how my dismissive words and body language conveyed a lack of value to our son. As I considered her words to me, I realized that the issue wasn’t that my son couldn’t explain things well, or that it would be easier for him to “just show me” -- the issue was that I thought my time would be better spent doing something else. The twenty things rattling around in my head were of greater value to me than anything my son had to say.
My flesh is weak and I am easily swayed towards the false belief that I am more valuable than others, that my thoughts and ideas are more valuable than others, and indeed that I should be exalted above others. This runs directly in contradiction to the teachings of God’s Word, which would tell me that I am to put others first (Philippians 2:3, Romans 12:10), my thoughts and ideas apart from the work of the Holy Spirit are wicked (Mark 7:21, Romans 1), and God alone is to be exalted (Philippians 2:9-11, Revelation 5:13).
Time is a limited resource that we are to steward for the glory of God. How and where we spend it demonstrates what we value, whether we intend it or not. I desire to spend my time in a way that demonstrates what my head believes is valuable. Whenever there’s a disparity between my head’s priorities and how my time is spent, it is not because I have forgotten how to spend my time wisely, but rather because my heart has believed something else is more valuable than my head might acknowledge.
This idea of time equating to value plays itself out in a myriad of ways - the single college student who spends hours trying to master the latest video game instead of studying for finals, the father who works 100 hours a week in order to “put bread on the table” but has no time to invest relationally with his wife and children, the 5th grader who sits in front of a TV scrolling through Netflix shows instead of doing homework like their mother asked, the mom who signs her kids up for endless activities so she can “keep up with the Joneses”, and the 2 year old who runs down the hall instead of getting in the bathtub like they’ve been told. All of these are evidences of a sinful heart that wants what it wants for itself, and will spend it’s time to achieve what it desires. We will always spend our time on what we find valuable, and far too often that value is found in self instead of God.
I must pause here and acknowledge that God does indeed declare us to be valuable. After the sixth day of creation (where he created Man), God declares his creation to be “very good”. He has placed a greater weight, responsibility, and value on mankind because it is man that God has chosen to bear his image. This is a significant and beautiful reality. What our hearts so easily miss however is the notion that any value or worth we find in ourselves should be a reflection back on the infinite value and worth of our God. All glory and honor and praise are his alone. When I desire it for myself, I am becoming a thief; I am trying to take for myself what rightly belongs to God.
As a parent, I have been given the gift of children, and with that comes the command to raise them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. This means, among other things, that I am to point them to Christ and model Christ for them with my words and actions, albeit imperfectly. Christ was not dismissive. Christ was patient and attentive. Rather than being a patient and attentive father, my example at the dinner table last night was rooted in selfishness and pride, one of self-exaltation and a lack of humility before the King of the universe, Jesus Christ our Lord.
As believers in Christ we should walk in faithfulness with our time, spending it in ways that are informed by and consistent with the holy scriptures, recognizing that we have been created by God, in his image, for his good purposes. Our time should be spent:
Gathering together with saints on a regular basis is certainly a part of this, as the scriptures clearly prescribe in Hebrews chapter 10. Worship however is more than just coming to church on Sundays -- it’s more than just singing songs of praise. All of life should be an act of worship. Everything we do should be in recognition of and reverence for what our God has done for us.
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17
Work is not a part of the fall. Not only does God himself do work in creation (Genesis 1 and 2), God gives work to man in chapter 2—before sin enters the world. God declares everything he has created to be “very good”, including the work that he has given to man. We are called to work the land and subdue the earth -- We were created to work. This should be done primarily in obedience to God’s mandate, and secondarily for the flourishing of our households and communities. This is true for the man or woman who goes to work each day to earn a paycheck, it is true for the homemaker who maintains the logistics of a household, it is true for the student who should be diligent in their studies, and it is true for the small child who is just learning how to pick up their toys after playing.
We have been made to glorify God. Indeed, we will glorify him with our lives whether we choose to or not. One of the specific ways that we have been commanded to do this is through the sharing of the gospel. Jesus makes clear in Matthew 28 that we are to share what we have been given, by telling others about Christ. We are to share the good news of the gospel, and to make disciples, teaching them all that Christ has commanded. This is more than just inviting someone to church. This is a relational investment in another person, helping them to come to know and understand the excellencies of Christ, in the hope that the Holy Spirit would illuminate the truth of God’s word to their hearts and that they might receive the gift of faith and be made alive in Christ. Parents are given this charge in an even more specific way—Paul exhorts parents to faithfulness here in Ephesians chapter 6 where has says to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord”. This is the same charge given to us by Christ to make disciples of all nations, but now directed at a very particular set of people: our children.
We will never live up to this standard of living on our own, but praise Jesus that He has already earned perfection on our behalf. Because of the finished work of Christ, those who have been made alive in Him are already counted as “good and faithful servants”. We have nothing to earn, and nothing to prove. Jesus has earned every ounce of righteousness that is necessary, and Jesus has proven himself to be more the enough. Our time should be spent in pursuit of Him, not of self. I pray that the next time I am at my dinner table with my family, my heart knows and remembers this well. May we faithfully love and worship our God by spending our time on what His word says is valuable.