This is the last in the series on building spiritual habits for the new year. And it’s an important one: time. One of the things about God is He exists outside of time. One of the things about us humans is we don’t. So when a second has slipped past, it’s gone. We can’t get it back with “undo” and then do something else, like we can with our fancy word processing programs. There is a need, therefore, for us to make good use of the time we have available:
“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. – Matthew 25:14-18, NIV
“Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
” ‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
– Matthew 25:24-30, NIV
Christ gives this example with respect of the resources we are given. Each servant was given some money and some time. The one who was given one talent and buried it in the ground made good use of neither the resource nor the time. So how we spend our time is important. This is a key area I struggle with. It’s very easy for me to start on one thing and get distracted and go on to other things. And then I’ve wasted my time. I have to focus, and focus hard, to stay on task sometimes. For me, that usually means intentionally multi-tasking, which seems to help me focus. Granted, not as efficient as doing one thing at a time, but at least I get everything done. But even if I accomplish all the things I have to get done, that doesn’t mean I’ve made good use of my time. What do I mean?
There are a lot of times when we waste time. For instance, I used to watch a lot of sports. I mean a *lot* of sports. I would stay up to watch the Lakers game on TNT because I’ve always followed the Lakers since I got interested in basketball as a kid. Since they play on the West Coast and I live on the East Coast, that sometimes meant staying up until 1 or 2 in the morning. And that meant putting off other things, like sleep. Which made me less effective the next day. I don’t do that anymore. But TV is always there. And it’s so easy to become a vegetable in front of that device. And when I’m watching TV, I’m not doing anything productive. Not for me, not for my family, not for my church, and certainly not for God. Ouch.
I’m sure there are a lot of areas in each of our lives where we can find that we waste time. Perhaps it’s TV. Perhaps it’s spending too much time browsing on the Internet. Perhaps it is in a hobby we are obsessive about. Or perhaps it’s that we have our priorities out of whack and while we are doing something that’s okay, we should be doing something more important. This is an individual thing between each of us and the Holy Spirit. However, in preparation for the new year, I’ve already started to look at where I spend my time and the changes I need to make. Some of them are going to be hard to do. Only by God’s grace will it happen. But that’s the way it often works.