How to Redeem the Time…

…as followers of Jesus.

Any time a Christian leader offers “how-to” resources, there is a risk of push back from the faith community. Believers at the opposite ends of the faith continuum are concerned that the writer is either too rigid or too relaxed. The goal is always to be faithful to the Scripture while avoiding both extremes of legalism and lawlessness. With that in mind, let’s probe into some ways we can redeem our time for the glory of God and our joy.

  1. Identify how you currently spend your time.

That may sound like the beginning of a time management seminar, but it’s true. You need a deep awareness of how you spend your time. We often take for granted certain aspects of our day and, as it ends and we’ve not accomplished a lot, we wonder why.

Recently, I was waiting for my computer to install updates. I grabbed my phone and began scrolling through Facebook posts while I waited. Before I knew it, about 30 minutes had passed; long after my computer was waiting for me to log in.

If you’ve ever gone to the movies only to leave feeling like someone owed you two hours of your life back (the movie was bad), you are poised to start this process. Knowing how you spend your time will help you avoid the feeling that you wasted it on something that doesn’t matter.

Point: An awareness of where your time “goes” is important as you work to redeem it.

2. Plan your time.

Okay, more time management tips. But this doesn’t have to be a minute-by-minute ordeal and really needs to focus on your “free” time; time not spent at school, work, sleeping, or other scheduled activities. In fact, your plan for your unstructured or free time is probably best planned from a what you won’t do.

Example: For over four years I was a doctoral student and watched very little TV. But after I graduated, I began watching Netflix nearly every night. It consumed me. I was getting very little done of any value, spiritual or otherwise. I now have a plan for TV/Netflix that doesn’t rob me of time I need/want to do other things.

Identify those things you do that consume your time. It could be TV or Facebook or reading (depending on the subject matter). You may decide to eliminate somethings (I can reduce my “favorite” shows from 8 to 4.) and limit others (I will watch movies/programs after I spend x (minutes/hours) on ______. or I will check social media x (days) per week.)

Good or Best. Our culture is information rich but knowledge poor. The average Christian may be knowledge rich, but action poor. Yes, the Internet, magazines, books, and TV offer a lot of good information, but is it best for you in your situation? As a Christian and minister, I could literally spend every waking hour watching good videos on various aspect of Christianity, but the that’s not God’s best for me. I need discernment to focus on the best which means filtering out a lot of good stuff so I can do the things that need doing. 

Tip: You might consider going on a media fast, if that is your big time “thief.” I recently took a week off from TV/Netflix and it was amazing what I accomplished.

3. Prioritize your time.

Now your relationship with Jesus really begins to bear on how you spend your time. Think of all the faith-building, kingdom-growing, Jesus-pleasing, God-honoring things Christians do; things like personal daily worship (“devotions”), the weekly services at church, visitation, mission projects, Bible-studies, discipleship training activities. Why do you participate in them as little as you do. Now, you can’t do them all unless you give up sleep, but the common answer is “I don’t have the time.” Question: What could you do if you prioritized “Kingdom” activities?

Imagine telling Jesus that you didn’t have time to read the Bible and pray daily, but you had time to hang out with friends, play sports, watch TV/movies, surf the Internet, manicure the lawn, or talk on the phone. What a sad conversation that would be! “Lord Jesus, I had time to do all the things I really like to do, but not many of the things that would help me know You and love You more or that would help others know You.”

Here’s a sad statistic: The Barna Group reported about twenty years ago that the average Christian watches five hours of TV a day and spends seven minutes a week reading the Bible. Let that sink in. Defend that. I’m reminded of Jesus’ words, “…where your heart is, there your treasure will be also.” (Matthew 6:21). Point: We make time for what is important to us.

Sidebar: Wouldn’t it be something if we turned that around. Think of the impact if we spent five hours a day in our Bibles and seven minutes a week watching TV!

The sermon that prompted this article included this quote from C.T. Stubb: “The one brief life will soon be past and only what’s done from Christ will last.” Friend, our culture is leisure and entertainment-obsessed, and it takes real strength and maturity to breakaway from that. Remember, there are no rewards in Heaven for the most hours of TV watched or the most posts on Facebook or the most hours spent on the lawn/garden/landscape.

Christians must make certain they are using their time in ways that build them up in love and surrender to Jesus for His glory, the good of others, and their own joy. Time spent wisely and well for the Lord brings us the blessings of obedience.

Conclusion: Every Christian will give an account of him or herself to Jesus at the Bema Seat judgment. That’s where the rewards are given to Christians based on faithful service. That accounting will include how you used or spent your time as as a Christian. How are you spending yours?

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