Ephesians 5:16 teaches us, “Redeem the time, because the days are evil.”
We are well past the midpoint of our calendar year, and this Scripture causes us to examine our use of the time we have. How have we used 2017 so far? Do we want the remaining part of the year to be what it has already been, or do we want to be and do more to close out the year?
Time is the one thing each of us have equally; inasmuch as we have time. No person regardless of age, race, gender or ethnicity will ever have more than 24 hours in each day. We can manage how well we use those hours, but we cannot get any extra time from our day. How we use our time makes a difference to God, to ourselves, and to others.
Years ago I heard a man say that the day was similar to a 24-inch ruler, and should be divided into three equal parts of eight – the first eight for our work and the means by which we provide for our families, the second four the duty and service we owe to our Creator and neighbor, and the final eight for rest and recreation (relaxation). Overall this is a pretty good method of dividing our time, and taken as a template of time usage could help us restore balance to our lives.
The first eight hours are for our financial labors whereby we provide for our families and are able to contribute to the relief and benefit of others. Sometimes we may go 10 or 12 hours in our work, but there should always be a clear reason. Work gives value and meaning to humanity, as God intended us to work from Creation. Even Ecclesiastes say that a person is able to derive satisfaction from doing their work well.
The second eight hours are perhaps the most neglected. We have a duty to serve God and to be a blessing to our fellow-man. Does God get time from us in our worship on the Lord’s Day, or do we get by with as little time for God as possible? When it comes to serving our fellow man, are we donating to a charity of some form so that we never have to be hands on with those whom we might not want to handle? The challenge is we know we must work, and we know we need rest and recreation, so we too often steal time from God and others to sleep and play more. When time ends we will be left with the two things we shorted – God, and our neighbor.
The third eight hours are probably the most abused. Sporting events, festivals, television, the Internet, school activities and dozens of other categories take us out of balance. We can so easily find time for a tournament, but oh that hour for God, well, God will have to wait. Too often we find it easy, and socially acceptable to neglect God, because we need time off, time to play or because “it’s for the children.” Most people will not criticize the use or abuse of time in this third category, but we need to bring it back to balance.
Friend and reader, look at how you use the time God gives you, and ask if you are using it to the best advantage for yourself, others, and God.