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Vol 4 No 33 December 12, 1999

The Wise Use of Time

W. Frank Walton

(Editor's note: Rather than personally writing every article that graces the front page of our weekly "News & Notes" I often search through periodicals for material from others. I try to find articles that are both timely and edifying. It's easier and faster for me too, but of course, I never take that into consideration! The following lesson by Frank Walton on the wise use of our time should come in handy as we look forward to making new year's resolutions.)

Do we truly appreciate the value of time? Time is precious and irreplaceable, since its our allotted currency in serving God. We choose daily how to spend it. "So then you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil" (Eph 5:15-16, NKJV). Instead of being spiritual simpletons, we're to live shrewdly with clear, balanced vision. "Redeeming" means "to buy up while it lasts, take off the market," Like sharp bargain hunters at an auction, we're to snap up every fleeting opportunity for good. Evil is trying to outbid us for time, and it's in short supply. Are we making the most of life? Are we effective, productive servants of God?

Someone wrote about time's value:
"This is the beginning of a new day. God has given me this day to use as I will. I can waste it or use it for good. What I do today is important because I'm exchanging a day of my life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever. leaving in its place something that I've traded for it. I want it to be gain, not loss; good, not evil; success, not failure -- in order that I shall not regret the price I paid for it".

"Killing time" is the sin of murdering opportunity. Do we act like we'll live forever: "Someday I'll" - is wishful thinking. Most never reach "someday". Tomorrow's deeds are never done because as soon as we reach tomorrow, it suddenly becomes today. What are we putting off that has spiritual, eternal significance? "Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts" (Heb 4:7). Today is the best time of opportunity that God offers. Between the innumerable yesterdays and the uncertain tomorrows lies in our grasp one and only one day, today! If we don't use it, we will lose it.

"So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90:12). Jacob Javits, the Senator who died of Lou Gehrig's disease, said, "There's no such thing as a terminal illness, we're all terminal." We only pass through life once. What we accomplish and become depends greatly upon how we choose to use our time spiritually. We can waste a dollar, but we can replace it. But if I waste a day, there's nothing I can ever do to recall it. It's gone forever. This life is the proving ground for eternity. "Hell is paved with good intentions."

Jesus knew the value of time: "I must work the works of Him who sent me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work" (John 9:4). Jesus used His window of opportunity to the utmost. In three years, this one Son of Man changed the face of history forever! The early Christians lived with a driving sense of urgency to snatch as many out of the fire before it was too late. Within forty years, the gospel was preached in all the known world without modern methods of communication or travel (Matt 24:14; Col 1:23). They taught daily, in the early morning, and late at night at every opportunity (Acts 5:21, 42; 8:4; 20:7-11). What a motivating challenge to us that it can be done! "Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time" (Col 4:5).

Practical Guidelines

1. Clear goals and vision: The biggest waste of time is having only a vague idea of what we're trying to accomplish as a Christian. Without some clear direction of goals, we spin our wheels in frustration, seemingly accomplishing little. Let's set daily goals: systematic Bible study, fervent prayer, meditation upon Christ, and heaven, eliminate sin, etc. Let's set weekly and monthly goals: attend all worship services, talk to prospects about Christ, read a gospel paper, visit or call the sick or spiritually weak, practice hospitality, etc. Let's seek for every opportunity to improve our service to God. These goals tie into our ultimate purpose as a Christian: becoming more Christ-like, obeying God's word in every circumstance and going to heaven.

2. Commit priorities to paper: "What's the most important use of my time right now?" List priorities in order of importance. Refuse to do what's not on the list. Do first things first. Don't be mired down with the trivial many and neglect the vital few. Jesus told the seventy, "Greet no one along the road" (Luke 10:4). Why? They could get bogged down talking along the way and never accomplish their mission of preaching. He told them not to waste time with trivial things (Luke 10:7). Let's remember Mary and Martha: "You are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:41-42).

3. Clear specific plans: Would we take a contractor to a lot without any plans and say, "Okay start building me a house?" We must have a plan to reach our goals. "We must plan our work and work our plan." Instead of, "I wish I knew my Bible better," let's use a practical daily Bible reading chart and stick to it! Set a time aside to do important things. There's never enough time to do everything, but there's always enough time to do important things (Luke 5:16). Here's a handy method: (1) Set tasks; (2) Set deadlines; (3) Visualize self doing what you ought to and think of the satisfaction of completing it; (4) Act; get it done and move on.

4. Develop single-minded concentration and urgency: Train to have the athlete's burning desire to run to win (1 Cor 9:24-27). Do one thing until it's done. Don't be diverted, diffused, or distracted. Get on with it right now. Do it now! The thief of time uses procrastination and creative avoidance, so we'll waste time piddling around. Parkinson's law states: "A task expands or contracts depending on the time allotted for its completion." We can become all the Lord want us to be if we live one day at a time, do one thing at a time, and buy up every opportunity for good. We're stewards of the precious gift of time. Let's use it wisely to His glory.

(via Christianity Magazine. Vol 3 No. 9. Sept 1986)

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