A couple of weeks ago I walked into a cell phone store and said, “I would like to trade in my iPhone 6 for a dumb phone.” Puzzled, the clerk asked why I would do such a thing. I told him I longed for the simplicity of the 2000s. The look of puzzlement continued as I described why I only wanted talk and text: I am tired of the media access on my phone. It’s a time vacuum.
He consulted with another employee and then informed me that they no longer sold dumb phones and said I would have to buy a “burner phone” to avoid media. I could try CVS or Target. All phone plans now carry a media charge; it cannot be avoided.
I went home disappointed, but as a small victory in the media-fatigue battle I deleted my Facebook app. I love you all, but you don’t need to join me on coffee dates with my wife and you don’t need to accompany me to the park with my children. I don’t need to see your vacation pics while I’m waiting for the light to change. There are better ways for me to use my time.
The Apostle Paul, writing to the church in Ephesus, gives a very interesting charge. He says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16)
We are called to watch our walk as Christians. We do this because of the evil around us. Paul wants to aid our walk as Christians by encouraging us to “make the best use of time.”
What an interesting phrase. Making the best use time. How can we do that as an aid to our Christian walk? What does it mean, especially since my whole concept of time is connected to a early modern era European time piece?
We all know how to waste time, many of us have mastered it through artistic expressions such as Candy Crush, Sports Center, Facebook, and other high brow muses. But how can we make the best use of time as an aid to our Christian walk?
Here are four Ps that may help you in making the best use of time:
We can Purchase Time: The Greek word behind “making the best use of” is a word that comes from the market place and it means to buy back or redeem. It’s as if time is a commodity and Christians must consider how they will invest. Purchase time so that you are able to grow as a Christian.
What is worth selling to you? If deleting a social media app will save you an hour a week, is that valuable to you? Maybe you could turn off Netflix 30 minutes early and pick up a Puritan Paperback instead. You could listen to a sermon on your commute to work. You could spend 10 minutes in meditation as you walk around the block. You could talk to your wife or husband about how their day has gone. Time is to be purchased. Buy the best of it for the kingdom and for things of eternal worth.
We can Protect Time: Your time is valuable. Most of us have many spheres of life that demand our attention. Family. Work. School. Church. Friendships. Hobbies. It is important to be mindful about where your time is going as well as where time is being neglected. Does your family suffer because of your hobbies? Do you not have time for family worship, but you have time for a couple of Red Box rentals each week?
There are certain things that need to be protected and we make the best use of time through prioritizing what is important. Protect the time that is precious to you. Martin Luther was known to rise earlier on the busiest days so that he could pray longer. It was protected time for him. What are the times that you protect? Are those valuable to your Christian walk?
We can Position our Time: Different experiences in life call for different amounts of time investment. There is a relational aspect to time that is mostly foreign to our 21st century Western minds. We think of time in 15 minute intervals. Much of the world’s history thought about time relationally rather than on the face of a clock. As we position time, we must consider it relationally. It is not a waste of time to weep with those who weep, position yourself to be available. It is not a waste of time sitting in silence with a grieving friend; it may be the best use of time at that moment. It is a not a waste of time to dance with those who are celebrating. It is not a waste of time to ride bikes with your children. As we make the best use of time, we must remember the relational component of time and position our lives accordingly. Our goal in this position is not busyness, but it is relationship building.
We can Profit from our Time: Jesus told us to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all of these other things of life would be added to us. As we consider time and profit, we must put the kingdom first. As Christians we must think about how viewing all of life with our eyes fixed on the kingdom will aid us in our use of time. We will think about how profitable time can be unto the glory of God.
Time is something with which we all have a relationship. As in all of life, time is not neutral, but must be understood through the scope of Scripture. We must purchase, protect, position, and profit as we seek to make the best use of time.
The clock’s a ticking. How will you make the best use of that time?