If so, just stay with me for a little longer and I’ll promise to keep it short! Isn’t our perception of time a strange thing? We can be doing something enjoyable and the time just flies. Perhaps we intended to spend just ten minutes on a computer game, but ended up playing for a couple of hours. Or maybe we wanted to send a quick message to someone on social media before bedtime and we find ourselves still chatting into the small hours of the morning! How we use our time matters to God. Writing to the church at Ephesus, Paul says: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16 ESV). So let’s take a moment to reflect upon how we use the time we have at our disposal.
After going to the supermarket I often spend a moment looking at the receipt to see which items account for the majority of my spend. What if we were to do a similar audit of our free time? What activities take up the majority of a typical day for you and me? The results might be both surprising and sobering.
I think the saying, “You make time for what’s important to you”, is very true. Take entertainment, for example: TV programmes or sports events are often billed as “unmissable” and we commit hours and hours to them. After a hard day’s work we might be content to sit all evening in the armchair flicking through the channels randomly or engrossing ourselves with our cell-phones. Yet, often, despite spending so much of our free time on frivolous things, we neglect to open up the Bible or get on our knees and pray.
Occasionally, I have seen a sticker on the back window of a car with this message: “One life – live it”. Unfortunately, I imagine the sentiment behind it is that we should cram every ounce of pleasure and enjoyment into our lives while we have the chance. However, couldn’t we borrow that slogan and apply it in a spiritual sense? Our time on earth is short. One day, all the “buzz” moments will be forgotten and become utterly irrelevant. However, the Lord will demand an account from us as to what we have done with the time He gave us (see 2 Corinthians 5:10). Let’s do as much as we can for the Saviour while we have the time.
In the workplace, it is much harder to get away with idleness these days. Modern technology often exposes those who are not being productive with their time. Yet the Lord Jesus sees us every moment of every day. No excuse for wasted time will wash with Him. What regret there must be for Christians who come to the end of their lives and realise that so much of them have been wasted. So many opportunities to serve the Master have been passed up in favour of doing something that now seems so trivial.
C.T. Studd was a famous cricketer, playing five test matches for England in the 1880s. However, at the age of just 23 he decided to devote the remainder of his life to God as a missionary, saying of that decision: “I know that cricket would not last, and honour would not last, and nothing in this world would last, but it was worthwhile living for the world to come.“ We will let him have the final word by quoting the words of his famous poem:
“Only one life, ‘twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.”