Chapter 9.....The Christian's Use of Time

"Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." Ephesians ch.5:16

THE dominant passion in a normal individual is the will to live. How precious life is! But life is made up of days, hours, minutes, and these, unless we are exceptionally careful, can be easily wasted. Five minutes wasted is five precious minutes of life thrown away! Let us never forget that. Whatever other differences there may be between men and women, we are all masters of our time. Of course, most of us are compelled to work and that is probably a very good thing. The hours we give to labour are fruitful in contentment of spirit for there is nothing probably that makes the hour of leisure so sweet as when it succeeds a time of useful service.

In these days everybody has more time at their disposal than formerly. We still hear, however, of busy people and most of us have excused ourselves for a neglected duty by explaining that we just didn't have the time. It would be well for each of us to remember that in the will of God there is only one duty for any given moment. If two inescapable duties collide it is because one or the other is a neglected duty of yesterday. All of us have the time we need for all the work God wants us to do. Mismanagement of time is a fruitful cause of depression while there is nothing so exhilarating as the discharge of each duty as it presents itself. If you want to be a depressed Christian, the recipe is very simple: make it your business to put off until tomorrow what you ought to be doing to day!

A chapter on time is, one supposes, largely for Christians who are of youthful years. Then the new disciple is apt to think he has plenty of time and can afford to be wasteful with it. But time wasted in youthful years is not easily recovered. How often one has seen candidates for the Missionfield who have allowed two or three years to be wasted, and before they are aware of it, find they are too old for the task to which they believe God called them. On the other hand seniors in years who are convicted of the sin of wasted time have the promise that the years that the locust hath eaten can be restored. And where there is true repentance and living faith in Christ even at 70 something can be redeemed. Looking then at this stewardship of time let me suggest some considerations that every new believer should keep in mind. You should use the time you have with a due regard to:


A Christian is a tripartite being: he is spirit, soul and body. He is spirit. Redeemed through faith in Christ, the spirit dead in sin has been brought to life so that fellowship with God is restored. In planning life, therefore, it is priority No. 1 for the Christian that he sees that time is given to the exercise of the spirit. The spiritual health of the Christian is paramount; there is nothing in life more important. Every day must have its time when the spirit shall adore the Father of Spirits in worship. The desire may not be there and then discipline must be exercised because life can never be governed by likes and dislikes. The growing health of the born-again spirit is so important that nothing should be allowed to steal the time essential to worship adoration and meditation everyday.

 Then the Christian has a soul. It is the centre of self-consciousness and if it is brought into rightful subjection to the redeemed spirit the time given to it will be profitable. It is a good thing to give praise unto the Lord. Every day should be a day of praise. If at any conscious moment you find yourself unable to praise God you may know there is a serious issue in the heart and it should be dealt with. The Christian will find time for reading. Reading requires discipline, but if we read and reflect upon what we read we shall find it time well spent. The thoughtful reading of Scripture and good books is a use of time that brings a rich reward. " Give attention to reading," says Paul to Timothy. No Christian should neglect it. Mr. Asquith had a life-long practice of devoting two hours a day to reading. No matter at what time he reached home from the House of Commons, he always gave two hours to reading before he went to bed. How much time we shall give to reading will be determined quite easily when we have disciplined ourselves to the task. Is it not a tragedy in a country where everybody can read and write, where we have such a wealth of literature, that any one of us should neglect to give time to reading?

The Christian also has a body. It needs time for exercise, for the preservation of health and time should be found for it. The health of the body is finely balanced. Between starvation and gluttony, the happy mean must be found. Sports and recreation are good but I do not like the word " pastimes ". If the Christian is keeping the needs of his spirit foremost in his planning he will soon see the place that should be given legitimately to the interests of the body. When sport and recreation occupy the mind unduly and detract our attention from what we know to be our duty then the body is getting more attention than it ought to have. Then we should consider the use of time with a due regard to


The first use of time must be for God. To some extent this is covered by what has been said in the previous section but there are certain distinct aspects. God and His Beloved Son must have the pre-eminent right to our time. That pre-eminence will never collide with any other duty; rather as we discharge this duty we shall get all other duties in their right perspective. They have entered into a great secret who hunger and thirst to be away from their fellows that they may be alone with God. That is when duty has been disciplined into delight. Find time to be alone with God. For many the quiet time is early in the morning and while that is ideal, it is not God's time for everybody. The mother who has a husband to get off to business and children to send to school may find that when the house is quiet is the best time to be alone with God. There is no need, however, to lay down any law in the matter. Give God the best time you can and the desire will grow upon you.

Then you must find time for God's people. We are brought together into Christian fellowship because it is essential to our well being. A well-planned Sunday is a great inspiration and the habit sedulously encouraged and developed will prove to be a life-long blessing. When we have been in the world all the week, we need the refreshment and inspiration of the company of those of kindred mind. If the night on which the Church has its prayer meeting is one that is inconvenient you should enquire whether another evening or afternoon could not also be arranged; for it is the Church prayer meeting to which every believer should give time as often as possible. How stimulating it is to all believers when they come together because they have planned the hour and how much greater will be the blessing from God as He knows the effort and perhaps sacrifice of those who are gathered in the Wonderful Name.

Then we must find time for our family relationships. The Christian will be jealous of the use of time in the home. Mother gets tired even if she does not go out to business. The fact is she has no need to go out for it, her need is sometimes to get out of it! Time planned to help in the home is time well spent. Young people should remember that their parents are getting older and time given to help in the home adds much to its sweetness. You ought to be on your knees every day before the Lord but sometimes you ought to be on your knees helping your mother! Both tasks in their way are equally holy. Certainly the Christian who is on his or her knees before the Lord every day ought to have some heavenly hints about helping in the home.

Neither is it a wise planning of time to be out every night so that your home is little more than a dormitory. It is not always easy but all of us should plan some time for our family life and whether it can always be arranged or not, it ought to be desired.

Then there is the planning of time in reference to our duty day by day. The time for which our employer pays us should be time we loyally give. If we are due to begin at 9, let 9 be the time. If we are paid to work until 5.30 let us see to it that we do not steal five minutes from our employer. It is not the modern idea, one recognises, but it is certainly the Christian ideal. Character grows and capacity increases with the right use of time as in God's sight. The amount of work we do will be greater and the quality of our work will be better, if we make it a point of Christian honour to give to our employer the time for which we are paid. There is really no difference in God's sight between stealing some money out of our employer's pocket and stealing 15 minutes a day behind his back. Each is morally reprehensible. In a matter of this kind we plainly show what is the reality of our Christian profession. Punctuality will be a witness, giving power and receiving unction whenever we speak the word concerning our Lord. Finally you must use your time with a due regard for


How ought we to look at life in the light of eternity? No question could be more important because if for no other reason eternity will be a far longer experience for us than time. Certainly in the light of eternity we shall recognise that there are few worse sins than the deliberate waste of time.

We shall know that we must make every minute contribute to our eternal well being. The man in the parable of the pounds who made ten pounds must have worked very hard but he used his time well because he was sure the king was coming. So should every Christian believe in the Lord's return. When the Lord returned, the servant presented his ten pounds with joy, only to find that as he had worked to get those pounds for his Lord, he had enlarged his capacity for administration and was able to take charge of ten cities. How glad he was that he had used his time so well!

John Bunyan tells us that in conversation with Mr. Honest and Mr. Greatheart, Christiana said she knew of one that said it was time enough to repent when they came to die. But Mr. Greatheart replied, "Such are not over wise. That man would have been loath, might he have had a week to run twenty miles in for his life, to have deferred that journey to the last hour of the week." Spending time on things of time and jeopardising all the issues of eternity seems indeed to be a foolish use of the precious minutes.

It is the sense of eternity that will give us a balance in many circumstances. How can you use your time honestly for an employer who ignores your best endeavours and is niggardly in his rewards? By keeping the perspective of eternity. How can we use our time when we are burdened with a sense of frustration, when life is passing and some of its cherished gifts are being denied us? It is the perspective of eternity that will give us renewed courage and bid us buy up the opportunity within our disappointment. What can the infirm, the bed-ridden, the blind, the deaf, the dumb do with time? Very little perhaps, if we speak after the manner of men, but a great deal if we think in terms of eternity. Whatever life here may be it is but a disciplinary preparation for the larger life to come. The Christian is facing an incomparable destiny. He knows that if we suffer we shall also reign, that even Christ pleased not Himself. As he thinks upon these things he takes hold of life afresh, resolved to use his time to the uttermost of its possibility in the will of God. None need be discouraged. Nobody in the will of God is on the scrap heap. Courage, high endeavour, and resolve to make the best use of our time that we can, in the circumstances God has permitted, will surely bring great reward.

As you keep these things in mind you will readily see what is to be your career in life. Some may have no choice but even so, if, it is your will to spend your time according to the will of God then God will surely lead you out in His own way for His own purpose.

When God in His grace stepped into your life He said in effect, "Now is the accepted time." How true His word was! Let us, therefore, keep our time right with God. At any moment we can check up am I at peace with God in what I am doing? Am I glorifying Him? Am I helping others? Am I full of faith in my use of this moment . Such questions will help us whenever we are in doubt and the more often we ask such questions and answer them the less will be the moments of our doubt. He who uses his time well pleases God.

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