Stewardship of Time
Elder O. B. Mink
Now In Glory
“Redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16).
We poor mortals are slaves of time; there is hardly a thing we do that is not governed by time. The clock sends us to bed, and the clock wakes us up. The clock sends us to work, and the work day is closed by the clock. So, in his earthly stay man is bound by time, time ushered in his birth, and time will carry him through the portals of death. There is “a time to be born, and a time to die” (Ecclesiastes 3:2). However, there is a sense in which time is the servant of man, and of this particular aspect of time, man should ever be aware, for his state (not place) in eternity is determined by the way he utilizes the time granted him on earth. Time is sacred and the scriptures lay great stress upon the urgent and wise use of it. Never was there, nor shall there ever be any time to kill. There is from the Divine perspective no such thing as unused or neutral time. Man is, every moment of his existence either for or against God (Matthew 12:30). Knowing our days are few, and that we are as the grass which withereth, let us join our prayer to that of the Psalmist, “Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” In so doing, we shall redeem the time (Job 14:1,Psalms 90:12, 1 Peter 1:24).
Time in itself is not evil, but good. It is the negative use of time that is evil. The fruit Eve partook of was not evil, but good, her misuse of it was evil. When time is used to gratify the flesh, that time is ill spent and can never be redeemed. Knowing in some measure the power of selfishness, it behooves the disciple of Christ to marshall all the forces of good at his disposal, and deploy them so as to preserve the sanctity of his time. The natural man spends every waking moment fulfilling the desires of the flesh and the mind, and never stops to think that he shall give an account unto God for every idle word spoken and every misspent moment (Matthew 12:36,Job 7:18). Moses chose rather to redeem the time than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season (Hebrews 11:25). And Job tells us that the sin season is short, “The triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment” (Job 20:5).
While the stewardship of time is an awe some responsibility, it should not serve to create in us a frenzied zeal. Such zeal is the mother of disorderliness, and would be a hindrance rather than a help in the proper use of our time. Redeeming the time does not mean that we are to forfeit all physical rest and recreation, but what it does mean is, whether we eat, drink, pray, or play, we are to do all to the glory of God (I Corinthians 10:31).
Thieves of Time
Someone has said, “Procrastination is the thief of time.” It is without doubt that a lot of time is lost due to procrastination, but procrastination is not the only culprit whereby time is lost. Laziness, carelessness, sensuousness are all thieves of time, and are more subtle and hurtful than procrastination. Sensuousness is not necessarily that which is manifestly sinful, surely those things are sensuous, but any and all things done in obedience to our fallen nature is sensual. It is a joy to get company, especially family whom you have not seen for awhile. On the other hand, considering the eternal perspective, it is readily seen that no company, be they ever so precious is worth getting who will take time from you which you owe to God. He Who purchased the church with His own blood, and grants man his every minute, has said to those baptized into His church, forsake not the assembly (Hebrews 10:25). Yet, the supposed excuse for absence, “I got company”, seems never to wear thin. One day, that seemingly genuine excuse will regretfully be seen under the heading, I WISH I HAD NEVER SAID THAT.
The time spent at an old fashion family picnic is evil if it keeps a person from discharging his duty to God. What shall we then say of television, theater, carnal literature, and the like? All of these are unmasked and announced thieves of time, and to allow these things to steal from us time which we owe God, is equal to leaving the burglars the key to our home while we are away. There are one hundred and sixty eight hours in a week, and if a person attended all the regular services of his church he would spend approximately five hours per week in the house of God. Apart from providential leave it is the Christian’s duty to be in every service of his church, and we need to keep in mind that God knows the difference between His providence and our perfidy. It is the member who attends consistently that realizes, he is yet an unprofitable servant, for he knows he has done no more than that which was his duty to do (Luke 17:10). He also knows, if he fails in this part of his duty, he will be less likely to succeed in any other.
The Christian may become careless in punctuality, and form a habit of tardiness. Such a habit is never more malicious, nor the person more guilty of time stealing than when repeatedly late for church service. There are occasions when Divine providence hinders, resulting in late arrival, but let us not compound guilt by blaming God for human dilatoriness. It is the general rule that when a person is late for church services he adversely diverts the attention of at least a few people in the assembly for a few minutes. Ascertain the number of people distracted by the late-comer, multiply that number by the number of minutes their attention was interrupted, and the total will be the measure of time stolen from them by the unthinking and careless person. The aggravation is furthered, for the usual thing is, the speaker is momentarily distracted by the tardy person, which results in the whole assembly suffering an undue loss of time. The tardy person has unlawfully and permanently taken away part of the most important commodity God has given to man, time. The eternal law says, ‘Thou shall not steal.” And this law applies to time as well as money. The habitual time thief knows there is no human court to which he is amenable for his theft, so all corrective admonitions fall on deaf ears, and he merrily continues his repulsive habit. However, there is a court to which he has been summoned, and in which appearance he will not be one second late. In that court he will be caused to see his abuse of time, and the harm he did to others by it. “So then everyone of us shall give an account of himself unto God” (Romans 14:12).
Now Is The Accepted Time
Serving God is not for spare time, when there is nothing else to do. With God there is no “Spare time”, and the faithful know God has not given them one minute to consume upon the flesh. They know that their King’s business is urgent, and that His program allows for no delays.
Man’s economic philosophy is, “Time is money. But let us remember man’s philosophy and God’s determinations are often contrary the one to the other. The King of time and the Lord of life has not said “Time is money”, neither has He said, “I will wait for your service until you become affluent.” But the omniscient economist has said, “Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:13, 14). God has not said, I will wait until you establish a career, or reach middle life, or retire, and then you may serve Me. But He has said, “Remember the Lord Thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days (age and sickness) come not ...” (Ecclesiastes 12:l). And He has said, “Look on the fields, for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35). There is no time like the present, and “now” is all the time we can be sure of. Thus, the urgency is constant, for the time of our departure from this fleeting life is always at hand (John 7:6). God demands and deserves the preeminence in all things, and except He have it in our dispensing of time, then He has it in nothing else in our life. The sum of what a person is when they face God is the result of the way in which they spent their time in this life. Seeing then that our sojourn here is so very brief, let us not waste a minute of it, but utilize it in such a manner so as when our days reach their end we can say with Paul, that tireless and busy apostle, “I am now ready to be offered” (II Timothy 4:6). Christ said to His church, “Ye shall by My witnesses” (Acts 1:8). He did not say, I expect you to be My witnesses, nor did He say, I hope you will be My witnesses. He said, “Ye shall be My witnesses.” Once a person is saved he mounts the witness stand where his life’s testimony is judged by the world. He may be a good witness or a bad witness, but he is a .witness all the time. When he squanders time, he steals from God, from others to whom he owes a better witness, and he robs himself of precious time and opportunities he can never redeem. How is it with your life’s time card? When God asks you about this day, and He surely will, where will it appear, on the credit or debit side of the eternal page? May God grant us the strength to “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time” (Colossians 4:5), for “It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (I Corinthians 4:2). God’s all sufficient grace has supplied the believer with every means necessary to enhance his life, and all these means come to us in the vehicle called time. Let us pray for Divine enablement so as to guide our particular vehicle in being about our heavenly Father’s business.
(Sovereign Grace Advocate - June, 1981)
Return To O. B. Mink Page
Return To PBC Home