There was a popular song in the 1960s that boasted: “Time is on my side- -yes, it is!” (We should ask the aging singer now if this is still true). Is time on our side? In our culture today, how easy it is for us to waste time. Yet as Christians we are called as the dearly loved children of God to walk wisely making sure to use our time wisely (Eph. 5:15-17). The gift of technology and our ability to be virtually “everywhere” in so many places at once with mobile networks, handheld devices, iPads, iPods, iPhones, (“i-need another one!”) can actually become temptations for us to waste much time if we are not wise. We can be tempted to live merely awaiting the “next, best thing!” The “next version”- -we long to be “upgraded” “rebooted” and “reconfigured”- -but time is ticking…
We are taught by the Apostle Paul: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:15-17). How can we rightly use wisdom about using our time wisely and in a godly manner as Christians?
Something wise we should remember from C. S. Lewis from ‘The Screwtape Letters” (this is written from Screwtape (the Master demon) to Wormwood (the demon pupil): “In modern Christian writings, though I see much (indeed more than I like) about Mammon, I see few of the old warnings about Worldly Vanities, the Choice of Friends, and the Value of Time. All that, your patient would probably classify as ‘Puritanism’—and may I remark in passing that the value we have given to that word is one of the really solid triumphs of the last hundred years?” (Screwtape Letters, pgs. 50-51). “The Value of Time”. Interesting.
We should learn to value the time God has given to us. In Christ, we have been graciously given His mind, His wisdom to live for Him (Phil. 2:5; Col. 2:3). Fools do not think about their use of time; fools only waste their time. The wise in Christ seek to use their time wisely. Puritan Richard Baxter wrote: “Time [is] man’s opportunity for all those works for which he lives, and which his Creator does expect from him, and on which his endless life depends, the redeeming or well improving of it must needs be of most high importance to him; and therefore it is well made by holy Paul the great mark to distinguish the wise from fools” (Christian Directory, Part I, Chapter V, ‘A Christian Directory’). Are you wise or foolish with your time? Honestly. Stop right now and think about this.
Let us remember that God is the Giver and Governor of All Time. Time is ultimately a gift from our God. “In the beginning, God…” God created time. God created man to live his time for the glory of God. Man was tempted and fell into sin so his time is also affected by sin, and so we must remember: “…Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). We should consider each moment precious as a gift from God, to seek to become more and more like Christ each day. We should consider how by God’s grace to do our best and the greatest good we can do with our gifts and abilities, knowing the time is short. “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith”( ESV Galatians 6:10).
How can we specifically waste time? What are our “time robbers”? The Notorious BIG Time-Robbers of History (thanks to 16th century Puritan Richard Baxter for this list; there truly is nothing new under the sun).
Sloth and idleness/ Excess of sleep/ Inordinate adorning the body with clothes and health/ Possessions and entertainment/ Needless parties and feastings and gluttony/ Idle talk; “chatting” (what we might call mere “small talk”)/ Bad company; “vain and sinful company”/ Excessive worry about earthly cares and business/ Ungoverned sinful thought-life/ …And the “Master-Robber” award goes to…
An unsanctified, ungodly heart!
Why is tis unsanctified heart THE master–the BIG ROBBER?! We must remember that wasting time, or acting foolishly in relation to our time reveals deeper problems of our heart (cf. Prov. 4:23). Remember that behavior is merely the fruit (Matt. 7:20: “…You will recognize them by their fruits”); the heart is the actual root of all of our sins (Matt. 15:19: “From out of the heart…”). Are we too busy to seek to know Christ better by His grace? By His abundant grace, He is our Redeemer, Husband, Shepherd, and King. Do we not want to know Him better in the time we have been given? If not, then something deeper is very wrong in our hearts?! We need to repent, knowing that Christ is gracious to forgive us and restore us to Himself! (1 Jo. 1:8-2:2). There is truly one thing that is ultimately needful (Psa. 27:4; Matt. 6:33; Luke 10:41-42).
In a dangerously distracted digital age, how can we think better about time? Let us begin by asking these questions: What if you knew you only had one year to live? How would you live? What if you knew you only had one week to live? How would you live? What if you knew you only had one day to live? How would you live? What if within the next hour you were dead? How would you want to live your last hour?
How do we “redeem” the time as the Scriptures teach us to do (Eph. 5:15-17)? How do we make the most use of the time? The Apostle Peter says know that “The end is at hand”. Live as if it is your last day; it may just be! The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers (1 Pet. 4:7; see also 1 Cor. 7:29-31; Col. 4:7). Let me say it this way: Jesus has bought us time—literally, through His precious blood!! Time is ours as a gift right now to enjoy in God’s presence and in His good world. We also possess an eternal life in Christ that we await to fully enjoy with Him in a fully renewed and restored world. One way to show forth our redemption in Him now is that we are called to be children who steward our time wisely as we grow in grace and the knowledge of the LORD (2 Pet. 1:3-11). Wise believers desire to be good stewards of this good gift of time.
Let us be reminded of God’s “dream” and goal for our lives: This goal or dream for His dearly loved children is Christ-likeness (Eph. 1:4-5; 5:1-2; 1 Jo. 3:1-3). Don’t waste the time he has graciously given you not getting to know Him better, and becoming like Him more. Know that God has called you to serve him faithfully in this present age. Don’t waste the time he has graciously given you. Know the brevity of your existence and yet the great legacy you can leave behind. Know your end and destination ultimately: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Cor. 5:10).
Beloved, God is wonderfully kind and abundantly patient—He is overflowing with grace and mercy for the repentant (1 Tim. 1:12-16)! I could tell you of a young man who has wasted much time and has lived to regret it; who didn’t finish college the first time; who made a lot of rejections of Jesus before He was graciously regenerated by God’s Spirit; who selected and wasted time reading many bad theological books in his early years; one who spent untold hours on himself to try and live for silly and foolish dreams of his own making—just for himself; who was deceived one time by a cult and wasted about a year in it; who had about 5 translations of the scriptures in his home and didn’t study and memorize them as he should; who used to collect books so that people would think he was smart rather than actually taking time to read and digest them—and to ask God to make him wise through them. This person stands before you as a redeemed man whom God has shown mercy to in Jesus Christ, and who Christ is faithful to continue to teach.
We have been redeemed from this evil present age to live for Christ (Gal. 1:4, 4:4-7; 2 Cor. 5:14-15). We have been redeemed to know that we are God’s precious children—and to live like His children! Christ has redeemed us by His blood in order that we might make known the coming salvation and judgment of the world. We are not our own; our time is not our own; time is not on our side, but Jesus is!! How can we best please Christ and show our love for all that He has done for us? We are told clearly in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15: “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”
By God’s grace, we can be wise in seeking to pray, meditate upon, and memorize God’s Word. This is God’s Word, His voice, our life (John 17:17). What keeps you from it right now? What distracts you from what is most important to you spiritually? UNPLUG to the best of your ability at times. Learn the difference between the needed and the “urgent”: Do not become a slave to the urgent (You’ve heard of the “tyranny of the urgent”?). The urgent is usually a disguised “demon” who is yelling J in your ear that you “MUST” do this or that. The Holy Spirit calls you near, to share with you the gifts and grace of God deep within the quietness of your soul.
Richard Baxter wrote (in a busy 17th century): “However it be now, I can tell you, at death, it will be an unspeakable comfort, to look back on a well-spent life; and to be able to say in humble sincerity, My time was not cast away on worldliness, ambition, idleness, or fleshly vanities or pleasures; but spent in the sincere and laborious service of my God, and making my calling and election sure, and doing all the good to men’s souls and bodies that I could do in the world; it was entirely devoted to God and his church, and the good of others and my soul” (Part I, Chapter V of ‘A Christian Directory’).
Since I was a young man, I have been haunted by the song “The Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin. It has always made me think more about my time. The song is an important reminder that how we live our lives will most likely be our heritage, our legacy left to our children (as well as the example we set for others around us). Are we too busy with our time to invest it as we should in the proper relationships with younger people? Did I show my children the importance of their time with me? Did I pray for them and others in my congregation and family to know the importance of being wise with their time? One line of the song reminds us of the consequences of not being thoughtful about our use of time, especially in our relationships: “You know I’m going to be like you, Dad, You know I’m going to be like you.” 
What if you knew you only had one year to live? How would you live? What if you knew you only had one week to live? How would you live? What if you knew you only had one day to live? How would you live? What if within the next hour you were dead? How would you live? How would you live? The end is at hand…Christ stands ready to receive, to forgive, to grow you up and mature you. He will return soon. Live for Him.
He has redeemed you; now go in His grace and redeem the time you have left.
The sands of time are sinking, the dawn of Heaven breaks;
The summer morn I’ve sighed for—the fair, sweet morn awakes:
Dark, dark hath been the midnight, but dayspring is at hand,
And glory, glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” – Eph. 5:15-16
Is time on your side?
In Christ’s love,
 Modern Time Robbers: Biggest time wasters according to website ‘Productivity 501’: Some comments include: Surfing the web. Biggest time waster without knowing it is being chatty. Top ways to waste time (not necessarily sins, but unwise and can be huge time-wasters): BIG 5: TV, TEXTING, GAMES, INTERNET, and OVERSLEEPING. Think about: Watching Television; texting; video games; internet; oversleeping; organization, or not having specific plans for a day; procrastination; worry; being busy but not accomplishing anything ; Not learning from mistakes. Read more: http://www.productivity501.com/interview-biggest-time-waster/257/#ixzz0pc3Zmilx
 The final verse says: “I’ve long since retired and my son’s moved away./I called him up just the other day./I said, “I’d like to see you, if you don’t mind.”/He said, “I’d love to, Dad, if I could find the time.
You see, my new job’s a hassle and the kids have the flu,/But it’s sure nice talking to you, Dad./It’s been real nice talking to you.”/And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me,/He’d grown up just like me.
My boy was just like me.”