Are You ‘Redeeming the Time’?

©iStock.com/Marilyn Nieves

Are You ‘Redeeming the Time’?

From the February 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

This world is running out of time! Signs are accelerating that Jesus Christ’s return is imminent.

Will you be ready? Time is a precious asset.

The Apostle Paul cautioned Christians to use time wisely, “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16). The Greek word translated “redeeming” in this verse literally means to buy up. Are you “buying up” each moment, each day, and gainfully using it? Are you making the most of every opportunity to grow in Christian character?

Time is something that true Christians, living in the last hour of this evil world, should be acutely aware of. But if we’re not careful, many seconds, minutes and hours will slip by unproductively. This is dangerous. Wasted time is irretrievable; it cannot be “bought back.” And Christ promised to bless only those who would actively prepare for His return to this Earth (Luke 12:40, 43).

Where can you find the time to be a growing Christian, a profitable servant for God? How can you find time for heartfelt prayer, engrossing Bible study, meditation, and meaningful time for your marriage and family—let alone time for yourself?

How we use our time reveals a lot about our character. It shows where our heart is (Matthew 6:21). Matters that are important to us will receive proper attention only if we first learn how to use time wisely.

This involves prioritizing.

In fact, a Christian must have three major priorities, put in a certain order, if we are to manage our time as God intends us to.

1. Time With God

The First Commandment requires that we put God above all else (Exodus 20:2-3). Jesus reiterated this fact, promising also that if we put God first, then He will supply all our physical needs (Matthew 6:33). Yet in this fast-paced society with so many demands on our time, finding adequate time for God can be an elusive goal.

How can you consistently make time for God each day?

Simple: You decide to. Each day you must determine to put “first things first.” You make a commitment that God comes first in your daily allocation of 24 hours.

In most cases, the best part of the day is first thing in the morning, when you are refreshed after a good night’s sleep. Otherwise, you become quickly preoccupied with daily routine and ultimately give God the leftovers of your day.

If interruptions occur, learn to adjust by making up for missed prayer or study time during a lunch break or at the end of the day.

A practical suggestion for organizing your morning time is to allow yourself no more than one-half hour to rise, stretch, shave, shower, brush your teeth, comb your hair and get dressed. Next, get right to your prayer and study—for one full hour. Then, spend one-half hour having a leisurely, nourishing breakfast (with your family if possible), before heading off to work or getting involved with the day’s other activities.

If you can learn to follow the above suggestion, you will have to get out of bed only two hours before leaving for work. And you’ll have plenty of time to put “first things first.” You’ll be amazed at how much better your day will go if you make time for prayer and study first thing in the morning. And you’ll feel better and have freer use of the rest of the hours for yourself.

If you are not a “morning person,” adjust your schedule to fit your needs. Organize your time so that you can spend quality time with God in the evening hours.

Busy mothers with small children often find their time consumed with tending to little ones. If you are in that situation, then decide to change it. Begin training them, at an early age, to pick up after themselves. Train them to take a nap at a certain time each day—and then take advantage of the free time you have, while they are sleeping, to pray and study.

You can also “mat train” your small children. Sit them down on a rug or mat with some books or toys and instruct them to stay there quietly. Discipline them lovingly but firmly for leaving the rug, until they follow your instruction. When they can stay in one place and play quietly, you will have some time to study, pray or use as you choose.

A housewife and mother of school-age children may have to rise early in the morning in order to fix breakfast (Proverbs 31:15) and help her husband get off to work and children get to school on time. But as soon as this is accomplished, she should get her prayer and study in.

Still, redeeming the time generally involves sacrifice. What can you cut out of your life to make more time available for God? Take a candid look at how you spend your time—and learn to maximize your daily time with God through more efficient use of latent times and by cutting out the non-essentials in your routine. Arrange your life so you can spend profitable time every day with God.

If you commute on a bus or subway, use travel time to read Church literature. If you drive your own vehicle, take advantage of audio readings from the Bible. Take a moment at lunchtime for meditation and prayer in a quiet location. Another idea is to write out key scriptures and practice committing them to memory. Carry them with you for free moments. Housewives, you too can keep scripture cards close by as you work. You can also listen to recorded readings of the Bible as you work, particularly if you own a portable headset.

Finally, don’t get flustered if something goes haywire. If you have an attitude of putting God first, He will help you in managing your time.

2. Time With Family

Family is deeply important to God. God is a Family, and we were created to become part of that divine Family (request our free booklet God Is a Family). God desires that we ultimately become unified in a close family relationship with Him. That is why He created the physical family—to prepare us for that future. Thus, family time should be a high priority in our lives.

Extreme preoccupation with careers, entertaining, service to others and social clubs—or even the Church—is not an acceptable excuse before God for having neglected our vital family responsibilities. Paul wrote, “[I]f any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an [unbeliever]” (1 Timothy 5:8). But what does it mean to “provide”? Much more than just seeing to your family financially, “providing” also means caring for physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs. It is giving your time.

Former Chrysler Corporation president Lee Iacocca wrote, “No matter what you’ve done for yourself or for humanity, if you can’t look back on having given love and attention to your own family, what have you really accomplished? Doing things for total strangers is great, but remember, giving starts at home” (Lee Iacocca’s Talking Straight).

Sometimes because we are so busy, we tend to place family time on the back burner. Make sure to schedule quality time with your spouse and children, as well as other relatives when possible. Have regular Bible studies with your family. Take walks together (which are especially nice in a place where you can enjoy God’s creation). Talk with each other! Schedule a regular weekly family night to play games, read stories or enjoy other activities.

How much of a priority is family time in your life?

3. Time for Yourself

God said of the first human, Adam, that “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). Why is it not good to be alone? Well, for one, too much time alone tends to foster brooding introspection focused excessively on self.

However, everyone needs some “space” now and then—time to be alone; time to slow down, rest and recuperate. Time to be in solitude to think and meditate on what is truly important in life, and our divine purpose for existing.

Jesus set for us a perfect example in all things so we could follow in His footsteps. One time, after His 12 disciples had returned from an unusually grueling stint of traveling and working, so much so that they didn’t even have time to eat proper meals, Christ instructed them to go away, by themselves, to a remote place where they could rest awhile (Mark 6:31).

We do need to strive to live balanced lives, exercising moderation in all things (Philippians 4:5). There is a time to commune with God, a time to be with family, a time to work, a time to play, and a time to be alone.

Take time to “stop and smell the roses.” If you are a workaholic or a chronic entertainer and socialite, evaluate whether all such pursuits are helping your relationship with God, your mate or your family.

What Are You Waiting for?

If you’ve read this far and you find that you still don’t have enough time, then ask yourself the following questions:

What am I doing now that really doesn’t need doing? Eliminate the unnecessary.

What am I doing that could be done just as well by someone else? Learn to delegate.

What am I doing that wastes my time or others’ time? (Have I observed that often what I put off I end up not doing anyway?)

Am I biting off more than I can chew, time-wise? Am I trying to cram too much into one day? Remember the importance of prioritizing. Break down big or hard tasks into smaller, manageable tasks.

Am I setting deadlines for what I want to do? Or am I drifting through life, with no plans, no schedules, and no organization?

Do I have trouble telling people no? One of the most effective timesaving techniques is learning to decline, tactfully but firmly. (Of course, we should be ready to assist others if an emergency arises, or give your child the attention he needs, but don’t let unimportant matters distract you.)

Take a hard look at your life. Don’t let your time keep slipping away. Remember, it is one of your most valuable resources for character growth. Frankly, there is no way to “save” time. All we can do with time is either use it profitably or waste it. So, think on these things—and use all your creative energies to come up with ways to “invest” your time as well as you can.

What will you do with your next 24 hours? Redeem the time! What are you waiting for?