When Paul encountered the scholars at Athens, he said they “spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing” (Acts 17:21). They wasted away their time on human reasoning. God’s truth, to them, was a curiosity. It certainly wasn’t something to be taken seriously. It wasn’t important enough to actually change the way they spent their time!
In Romans 13, Paul admonishes us to awake out of sleep—because we know the time! Time today is much shorter than it was two or three years ago—or two or three months ago. Whether we are alive and remain when Christ returns from heaven, or we die a few years before that, in either case, our salvation is nearer than what we once thought. Because we know the time, Paul says, we must strive to live as Christ lived in these urgent days (verses 12-14).
Because of the time, we must focus on what really matters—and then maintain that focus. Satan understands well that we cannot serve both God and mammon (Matthew 6:24)—and that a friend of the world cannot be a friend of God (James 4:4). He wants us to get so caught up in the things of this world that we never have time for God. He’s filled this world with a glittering array of alluring, sensually appealing diversions and materialistic things—all of which, if we lack self-control, will devour our time.
The entire book of Ecclesiastes was recorded to teach us not to waste our time on material pleasures, and to teach us that the purpose for our physical existence—which is nothing more than a short span of time—is to build godly character.
Therefore, most of our time (when we are not sleeping or working) should be spent with God in prayer and Bible study and with our families in the home, which is where we best learn how to practically apply the laws of God.
Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” To spend your time wisely, the very first law to remember is that God must come first in our lives! We must give God the very best time that we have! Seek Him first—seek His righteousness—and then He’ll be involved in how the rest of our time is spent.
To do this, we must organize our time around God. Every day, we need to carefully budget how much time we spend on various activities. Every hour of every day is made up of decisions about what we are going to do with the time that we have left that particular day.
In The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working, author Tony Schwartz cites a recent study in which participants were asked to complete just 20 minutes of exercise at any time within the following week. Incredibly, only 29 percent of the people took the time to perform the task.
A second group was challenged to do the same assignment and was given additional instruction about how exercise reduced the risk of heart disease. In that group, 39 percent of the participants found the time to exercise.
But in a third group, in which participants were asked to exercise on a specific day, at a specific time and at a specific location, 91 percent of the people completed the assignment.
By defining precisely when we’re going to undertake a behavior, we reduce the amount of energy we have to expend to get it done. Often, when we make a commitment to a new behavior such as exercising, we fail to recognize that unless we set aside a specific time to do it, it’s unlikely we will. In part, that’s because there is another behavior we’re more accustomed to doing, out of habit, or because there is something easier and more pleasurable we could do. Each time we have to think about whether or not to do an activity—in the face of other temptations and potential distractions—we deplete our limited reservoir of will and discipline. If you have to consciously think for very long about doing something, it’s unlikely you’ll end up doing it for very long. …
The more challenging the ritual—physically, mentally, or emotionally—the greater the need to be precise in implementing it.
This same principle holds true for our spiritual rituals. The more challenging it is to carve out time for our daily spiritual needs, the more precise we must be in locking it into our schedules.
God created each one of us with the capacity to take full advantage of every opportunity that comes our way. He didn’t intend for us to waste away our lives in frivolous pursuits. He wants us to use every moment we have today to prepare for our future!
The Apostle Paul charged us to use this life to “present our bodies a living sacrifice” unto God (Romans 12:1). In the Old Testament, there were no living sacrifices. They were all dead. To be a living sacrifice, we must first put to death the lusts of the flesh and, by sacrificing the self, keep them dead (see Romans 6). Secondly, we must lay down our lives in the time, energy and effort needed to support God’s work and purpose.
Not only does what we do in this life impact the progress of God’s work, it also prepares us for what we will be doing in God’s Kingdom. We must overcome the way Jesus Christ overcame because we have been called to rule with Christ (Revelation 3:21).
Just like us, Jesus only had 24 hours to work with every day. The Scriptures tell us that it was His custom to rise up a “great while before day” to get in His prayer (Mark 1:35). He studied God’s Word, He trained His disciples, He fulfilled God’s will—always doing those things that pleased the Father.
Now God says to us, You follow those steps—you organize your lives the way Jesus Christ did (1 Peter 2:21). And if you overcome like He did, you’ll rule with Him on His throne when the Kingdom of God is set up on Earth (Revelation 2:26).
God has called each one of us to be world leaders! Maybe you’ve never thought about it quite like that before. But in the World Tomorrow, when Jesus Christ sets up God’s government on this Earth, He will need qualified leaders to assist Him in ruling the nations. (See also Daniel 7 and Luke 19.)
Jesus Christ is offering positions of authority to those who have learned to carefully budget their time in this physical life. How we use—or misuse—our time, will determine how God can use us in His Kingdom (Luke 16:10-11).
Think about it: Eternity is an unlimited amount of time. How could God entrust us with power and authority for all eternity unless we first learn to spend our time wisely in this life? ▪