What is stealing our time that we may not even be aware of?
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,
Over and over again I wonder why I don’t get as much done during my day or week as I would like. It might be because I have 4 kids. It might be because Joe’s grandma keeps calling me into her room insisting that someone is going through her drawers and hiding things in her socks. But honestly, I probably waste more time then I would like to admit. I often procrastinate and balk at what God has called me to do on any given day.
Time is a gift from God. He doesn’t owe us any days, or hours, or minutes, and yet he gives them to us generously. Because time is a gift it is never justifiable to waste, presuming God will give us more.
As the year is coming to a close it might be a good idea for us to examine how we spend our time and in what ways we are tempted to waste it. How we can do better next year?
Recently I came across Richard Baxter’s “12 Time-wasting Thieves”. Baxter was an English pastor in the 1600’s. He was a nonconformist, mostly self taught, who landed himself in jail for preaching. He was also an author, and some of his more famous works are “The Reformed Pastor” and a huge book called “The Christian Directory”.
Here are some “thieves” as Baxter calls them, that steal our time. Some of his points made me laugh a little, but the more I thought about them (like #3) the more I had to agree with him. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
- “One of the greatest time-wasting sins consists of idleness or sloth.
Yup, if we are honest we can all find areas in which we are simply lazy. It doesn’t matter how much of a type A personality you are or how hyper-organized you are, we all are lazy in some areas and waste time. We need to find those areas and ask God to help us do better.
- “Another time-waster is an inordinate adorning of the body.”
We should all want to take care of the body God has entrusted to us. But how much time do we spend doing our hair, obsessing over our wardrobe, shopping, facials, manicures, pedicures, massages, and even exercising in order to look at certain way, not because of health benefits?
- “Another time-wasting thief is unnecessary pomp and extravagance in household furniture and domestic entertainments.”
This one made me laugh, but his point here is that the more elaborate furniture and decorations you have the more time you will spend cleaning, dusting, obsessing, and picking up. I think if I had 50% less stuff (including clothes) I would spend less time picking up, dealing with laundry and stressing out over piles of junk or the piles of ignored toys that lay scattered all over. How much time do we spend reading decorating blogs or magazines or DIY sites and how much time do we spend decorating our souls with character built from God’s word?
- Another notorious time-wasting thief is needless, inordinate sports and games — which are masked with the deceitful title of recreations.
Uh-oh, I feel like this is a big sin seen in our country. Hours upon hours are spent on the sports field. Many children are involved in more than one sport, so between school, homework, practices, and games, there is little of the day left for family time let alone the spiritual training of our children or our own spiritual growth. Often even church is pushed aside in order to participate in or watch sports.
- “Another time-waster is vain, ungoverned and sinful thoughts.”
Anytime we worry we are wasting time. When we are fearful instead of taking our concerns to God we are wasting time. When we are consumed with anger we are wasting God’s precious gift of time. Worry, fear, anger, and other sinful thoughts can paralyze us to such an extent that we end up getting very little done.
- “But the master-thief that robs men of their time is an unsanctified, ungodly heart; for this loses time, whatever men are doing — because they never intend to do anything for the glory of God.”
This one took me by surprise. Never have I thought about the fact that an unbelieving heart is constantly wasting time because all it does is in vain since nothing it does is done for the Glory of God (Hebrews 11:6).
Let’s take these last few days of the old year to examine honestly our heart, mind, and habits in order to see where we waste time. And let’s pray and work at making sure the time given to us in the New Year is used to best of our ability.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do — do it all for the glory of God!”
1 Corinthians 10:31