THE HABIT OF STEWARDSHIP-MONEY
In this week’s blog post, we are considering the habit or discipline of stewardship as it relates to money. In past posts, we have considered Bible intake, prayer, worship, evangelism, serving, and stewardship as it relates to time.
If you have not seen these posts yet, go ahead and click on the links to catch up.
And remember that the primary motivation for these spiritual habits or disciplines is taken from Paul’s instruction to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:7, where he says, exercise or discipline yourself toward godliness. This applies to us just the same today and Paul makes it clear that, if we wish to be godly, it will take work, discipline, and exercise. Just as an athlete, musician, or artist must exercise disciplined practice to become more proficient at their chosen field, so a disciple must exercise disciplined practice in these activities as means’ of grace to become more proficient at being godly. That is to say, as we become more disciplined in the practice of these habits, more of God’s grace is available to us which will change us.
The previous post in this series was supposed to be about Stewardship generally, but there was so much material when considering both the time and money aspects that I decided to split it into two posts. So this is the second post, dealing with stewardship of money.
Now, the Bible relates not only our use of time to our spiritual condition (that is to say that our spiritual condition is closely related to the use of our time) but also our use of money. The disciplined use of money requires that we manage it in such a way that our needs and those of our families are met. Actually, the Bible condemns as a hypocrite any professing Christian who fails to care for the physical needs of his family because of financial irresponsibility, slothful mismanagement, or waste.
“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever,” 1 Timothy 5:8).
So how we use our money for ourselves, for others, and especially for the sake of God’s kingdom is from first to last a spiritual issue.
Now, why do you suppose that God would consider the biblical use of money and resources a crucial part of our growth in godliness? For one thing, it is a matter of pure obedience. There are a whole lot of verses in the Bible that speak about our use of wealth and possessions. If we ignore it or take it lightly, our ‘godliness’ will be a deception. But as much as anything else, the reason our use of money and the things it buys indicates our spiritual maturity and godliness is that we exchange such a large part of our lives for it. Because we invest most of our waking days working in exchange for money, in a very real sense our money represents us. Therefore, how we use it reveals who we are because it makes plain our priorities, our values and our heart. To the degree we use our money and resources Christianly, we prove our growth in Christlikeness.
Let’s consider how the Scriptures teach us to discipline ourselves ‘for the purpose of godliness’ in the specific area of using our money for the sake of Christ and His kingdom.
Ten New Testament Principles of Giving
1. God owns everything.
1 Corinthians 10:26 - For “the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof.”
Exodus 19:5 – “…for all the earth is mine;”
Job 41:11b – “Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine.”
God owns, everything, including everything you possess, because He created everything. This means that we are simply managers or, to use the biblical word, stewards of the things God gives to us.
As a slave, Joseph became a steward when Potiphar placed him over his household (Genesis 39:5-6). Since slaves own nothing, Joseph owned nothing. But he managed everything Potiphar owned on his behalf. His management of Potiphar’s resources included the use of them to meet his own needs, but Joseph’s main responsibility was to use them for Potiphar’s interests.
That is our task as stewards. God wants us to use and enjoy the things He permits us to have, but as stewards, we have to remember that they all belong to Him and should be used for His kingdom.
God has specifically said that He owns not just the things we possess, but even the money under our name in the bank and the cash in our wallet or purse. He said in Haggai 2:8 that the silver is His and the gold is His. So the question is not, “How much of my money should I give to God?” but rather “How much of God’s money should I keep for now?”
2. Giving is worship.
Philippians 4:18 – “I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.”
In this verse, Paul calls the money that the Philippians gave a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to the Lord. This is a comparison to an Old Testament sacrifice people gave in worship to God. In other words, Paul said their act of giving to the work of God was a way of worshipping God.
Have you ever thought of giving as worship? You know that praying, singing praises, participating in the Lord’s Supper, thanksgiving, and listening to Him speak through His word are all worship, but did you realize that giving to God is one of the biblical and tangible ways of adoring and worshipping Him?
Giving goes way beyond being a duty or an obligation. Biblical giving displays a heart worshipping God.
3. Giving demonstrates faith in God’s provision.
Mark 12:42-44 - And He sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And He called His disciples to Him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
This poor widow gave everything she had, all she had to live on because she believed God would provide for her. We, too, will give to the extent we believe God will provide for us. The greater our faith that God will provide for our needs, the greater will be our willingness to risk giving to Him. And the less we trust God, the less we will want to give to Him.
Your giving is perhaps the most tangible indication of how much you believe that God will provide for your needs. Examine yourself and ask God how He thinks you are doing.
4. Giving should be sacrificial and generous
2 Corinthians 8:1-5 - We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favour of taking part in the relief of the saints — and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.
Paul describes these Macedonians as people living in extreme poverty. And yet their extreme poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity. They gave not only according to their means but beyond their means. Like these people, our giving should be sacrificial and generous.
Remember this; giving is not sacrificial if you don’t have to sacrifice something to do it. Many professing Christians give only token amounts to the work of God’s kingdom. A much smaller number gives well. Probably only a small few actually give sacrificially.
5. Giving reflects spiritual trustworthiness
Luke 16:10-13 - “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
In these verses, Jesus reveals that your giving is a reflection of how trustworthy we are with spiritual resources. If we are not faithful with the money God entrusts to us (and that certainly includes the giving of money for Christ’s kingdom) the Bible says that God will not treat us as trustworthy to handle spiritual riches.
This is why your financial records tell more about you than almost anything else. If after your death, to learn more about your commitment to Christ, a biographer or your children were to scan your financial record of what you did with your money, what would they conclude? Would your footprints prove your spiritual trustworthiness?
6. Giving – Love, not legalism
God doesn’t send you a bill and your church doesn’t send you a monthly statement of your account to remind you to make the necessary payments as though you had an obligation. We don’t give to God and to support the work of His kingdom to fulfill some supposed ‘eleventh commandment’. Love to God should motivate giving to God. How much you give should reflect how much you love God (and it probably does).
In 2 Corinthians 8, Paul reports to the Corinthians how some of their fellow Greeks in macedonia were such good and faithful givers.
2 Corinthians 8:7-8 - But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also. I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine.
Paul didn’t exercise his authority as an apostle of Jesus and command the Corinthians to give. No, instead of dictating a law of giving, he said that giving is a way of proving the genuineness of your love for God.
God wants you to give, not as a formality or an obligation, but as the overflow of your love for Him.
7. Give willingly, thankfully and cheerfully
2 Corinthians 9:7 - Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
God doesn’t want you to give with a grudge – that is, you give, but you would rather not. He takes no pleasure in gifts presented resentfully, regardless of the amount involved. God is not a divine landlord, tapping a greedy, outstretched palm, demanding His due, having no concern for how you feel about it. God doesn’t want you to give to Him out of a reluctant compliance to the reality that He owns it all anyway. He wants you to give because you want to give.
Somebody has said that there are three kinds of giving: grudge giving, duty giving and thanksgiving. Grudge giving says ‘I have to’; duty giving says ‘I ought to’; thanksgiving says ‘I want to’.
Some give because they can’t keep it. Others give because they believe they owe it. And a happy few give because they can’t help it.
God wants you to enjoy giving.
8. Giving – an appropriate response to those in need
Acts 11:27-30 - Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.
The Christians (disciples) in Antioch, some three hundred miles to the north of Jerusalem, gave money to help feed and meet other needs of their unknown, fellow Christians in Jerusalem. This example gives a biblical precedent for our taking special collections in church, such as collections for international and home missions, world hunger, disaster relief, and so on – even for taking a spontaneous offering for any appropriate need.
Giving is an appropriate response when we become aware of those in need.
9. Giving should be planned and systematic
1 Corinthians 16:1-2 - Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.
This collection for the saints was a special offering for the poor Christians suffering in Jerusalem because of a famine. But even though the collection targeted a specific need, Paul instructed the Corinthians to give toward that need on a weekly basis (a recurring gift) for some time in advance of his arrival to Corinth. He knew that in the long run, greater efficiency and effective results from giving in a planned and systematic way than haphazardly whenever a need arises. Since many needs are ongoing – like missions, feeding the hungry and maintaining the ministry of the local church – systematic giving will meet those needs more consistently than an unceasing series of special offerings.
10. Generous giving results in bountiful blessing
Luke 6:35 - “…give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
2 Corinthians 9:6 – “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”
These verses are not an endorsement of the ‘prosperity gospel’ that teaches financial wealth here on earth as a result of your giving a lot to those ministries. “Prosperity preachers”, I believe, pervert the gospel, misrepresent God and mislead their listeners.
But I do believe that these verses and others indicate that earthly blessings of an unspecified nature will be given to those who are faithful stewards of God’s money.
Much of God’s blessing for our giving, however, will not come in this life. And it takes faith to believe that giving money here lays up treasure in heaven. It takes faith to believe Jesus correctly said that it’s more blessed to give than to receive. These passages are true and at a definite time in a real place God is actually going to reward us bountifully for what we have given generously and cheerfully.
Regardless of your interpretation of these passages, regardless of how much God rewards you here for your giving and how much in heaven, the bottom line is clear: God will bless you bountifully if you give generously.
If you want to know about the many opportunities to give at OMS Canada, please click here.
TEACH THEM TO BE BAPTIZED
Welcome to the Commands of Christ blog series where we will examine together the nine foundational commands given by Jesus and which are essential for new disciples to understand and obey.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age,” (Matthew 28:18-20).
In this post we will look at the second of nine foundational commands that Christ gave for disciples to obey. This second command is to be baptized. In the reference above, Jesus speaks to His disciples about baptizing new disciples in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. But what does baptism mean? Is it just dunking (or getting dunked) in water, or is there something more to it?
Four Questions to Answer
1.What is baptism?
Let’s take a look at the biblical account of Phillip’s interaction with the Ethiopian official found in Acts 8:26-38.
Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this:
“Like a sheep He was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so He opens not his mouth. In His humiliation justice was denied Him. Who can describe His generation? For His life is taken away from the earth.”
And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.
The story begins with an angel of the Lord instructing Philip to run up to a chariot owned by an Ethiopian eunuch. Philip heard the eunuch reading the book of Isaiah, specifically a prophecy of Jesus’ death. Philip is able to explain the passage to the eunuch and tell him the good news about Jesus. And now a new believer, the eunuch, in faith, eagerly gets baptized as soon as he sees a body of water.
In this story, we see that although baptism is done in water, it’s a symbol of something more.
According to Romans 6:3-4, baptism is a symbol of Jesusʼ death, burial and resurrection. It means we have died to our old life and been raised to live a new life with Jesus. Matthew 3:13-15 depicts even a scene of Jesus receiving a water baptism, and so should we. Receiving baptism means we identify Jesus as our Lord. It’s something for new believers to do not out of tradition but out of a desire to solidify and symbolize their new life in Jesus. It really is an initiation rite into the church, the Body of Christ.
2.Why should we be baptized?
There are a number of answers to the question of why we should be baptized. The first is that Jesus set for us an example in Matthew 3:13-15. Jesus received baptism and so should we. The second is that Jesus has commanded it. Matthew 28:19 is where we see it in the Great Commission, which we have already looked at. A third reason why we should be baptized is that it was taught and practiced by the early church. Throughout the book of Acts we see examples of new believers being taught to be baptized and actually being baptized.
3.Who should be baptized?
In Acts 2:37-38, Peter responds to the crowd who had just listened to his sermon following the Pentecost events in the upper room. These people were cut to the heart by the sermon and knew that something had to be done. Peter answers them in this way.
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).
It should also be noted that Luke records the response to the command of Peter.
So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls (Acts 2:41).
This specifies that baptism was administered only to those who “received his word” and therefore trusted in Christ for salvation (repentance and belief).
As we saw in the first Command of Christ, repentance and belief are connected. Here Peter gives the process. Repentance and belief are prerequisites to baptism. Only those who have repented and believed should be baptized. Because of Paul’s teaching in Romans 6 that baptism is a symbol of our union with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, that union, which happens through repentance and faith, must be a reality first which is then demonstrated by the ordinance of baptism.
4.How should we be baptized?
The practice of baptism in the New Testament was carried out in one way: the person being baptized was immersed or put completely under water and then brought back up again.
Baptism by immersion is therefore the mode of baptism or the way in which baptism was carried out in the New Testament.
It is also evident in the Acts 8 and Romans 6 references above that immersion is in view when mentioned by Peter and Paul.
So how are you doing with this command? Have you been obedient? Have you challenged those you are discipling to be baptized? Have you baptized anyone? We would love to get your comments. Just respond in the comment section below.
Have a great and obedient day.
Dear Friends and Family,
We trust you are well and keeping safe during these challenging days. We have enjoyed our time in Sequim, Washington, and even though we have not been able travel and visit face to face with friends and family, we have been able to stay busy with joining Zoom prayer meetings, church services, and Bible studies. A few weeks ago, our church started a drive-in service in the church’s parking lot, and we are really enjoying that. We also helped with a painting project at the church for several weeks.
During this time, we have been in touch with our field director in Mozambique and the regional director from the U.S. working on our assignments. We were waiting for Mozambique to open up, but to date, it remains closed to outside travelers. Another issue for us is that Larry needs to be able to get to his cardiologist in South Africa, and the borders remain closed to travel between the countries.
It has been a challenging time for us as we have considered all our options. Our original plan to return to Mozambique does not seem possible now. Not knowing when the travel restrictions would be lifted, we started looking at other opportunities to serve. In late June, we were given the opportunity to finish up our last term with some new assignments, and we will be able to do them from OMS headquarters in Greenwood, Indiana. Susan has been offered the position of administrative assistant to the director of Dynamic Women. (This is the same organization that Susan went to India with.) The purpose of Dynamic Women is engaging, equipping, and mobilizing women to make disciples in all nations. This involves women in the U.S. as well as women around the world.
Larry will be doing several jobs, all involving finances.
1) Mozambique: He will still be a consultant to the business manager in Mozambique and do budgeting and reports for the field. He will use Zoom to continue to teach the business manager how to do budgets and reports for the future. Our hope is to be able to go to Mozambique next March for a few weeks to finalize the plans for the celebration, pack up our belongings there, and say our goodbyes to our beloved team and Mozambican brothers and sisters in Christ.
2) Every Community for Christ: Larry will be taking on the budgeting and finances for ECC (OMS’ church planting ministry) around the world, except for Africa as there is someone already doing a great job of that.
3) Africa Regional Finance Director: Larry will be helping develop the financial aspects of this new global regional hub and provide financial leadership in the Africa region and be able to report financial information to the various Global Ministries leaders.
This is an exciting development for us. We look forward to these new opportunities to serve the Lord in other countries even though we will be based at OMS headquarters in the U.S.
We have packed and sent some things ahead to Indiana, and Lord willing, we will arrive in Indiana around the end of July. We will have a home on the One Mission Society campus, and it has a spare bedroom for those who want to come and visit us. Our hope is to be settled into life in Indiana and ready to assume these new responsibilities by the middle of August.
Although we haven’t been able to travel or share in churches since March, we have been busy keeping in contact with the Mozambique team and working remotely using Zoom. We are also responsible for planning the 25th anniversary of OMS Mozambique for April 2021 and have begun the initial work to establish a CAM School (Christian Academy in Mozambique) Alumni association. Once the decision was made that we weren’t able to return to Mozambique and we would be moving to our One Mission Society headquarters in Indiana to take on new responsibilities, the big question is what do we take with us? After 24 years of storing things, we are now pulling out these things, mostly kitchen utensils, household items, and knickknacks. Why should we buy again when we have things we can use again … at least some of it? There were things that needed to be thrown away. But it has been fun to see what was in all those boxes and barrels and give it new life again. Once we get to Indiana, we will need to find furniture to fill our home.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV
-Larry and Susan Weil
RUNNING TOWARDS GOD
Have you ever been in a race? If you have, you will remember that constant feeling of striving towards the finish line. It’s almost like that feeling would give that extra push to get through to the finish line.
If we were to have a conversation with a professional runner, we would probably learn that there is a lot more to running than just simply “running.” We would learn that there is a great deal of time, effort, discipline, and training that goes into it. It is important to know this because these are the things which help to develop and build those running skills physically.
Today, we are going to talk about running, but in more of a spiritual sense. We will look at an example of running from God and running towards God. Let’s remember this very important point: No matter what situation we find ourselves in, let's not run from God but instead run towards God.
There is a well-known story in the Bible that most of us have heard before and that is the story of Jonah and the great fish.
God had called the prophet Jonah to preach to the people in Nineveh. Jonah decides that he doesn’t want to go to Nineveh and instead goes to Joppa and takes a ship to go towards Tarshish. Jonah had gone in the opposite direction of where God had told him to go. He was literally trying to run from God.
While on the ship, God sends a great wind on the sea and everyone on board was afraid while Jonah was fast asleep in the lowest part of the ship. The captain goes to Jonah and asks him to call upon his God to save them from the danger they were in. We know what ends up happening next. Jonah gets thrown into the sea and gets swallowed by a great fish. Of course God had prepared the great fish to swallow Jonah and that is where he remained for three days and three nights.
The time when Jonah is in the fish is very significant because he realizes that God was serious about him going to Nineveh and he must obey. He also realizes that it was wrong to try to run from God and so, he repents. God speaks to the fish and it throws up Jonah out onto dry land and he goes to Nineveh where God had originally told him to go.
Let’s stop here and discuss 3 main points from this story:
1. We cannot run from God
“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.” (Psalm 139:7-10)
As hard as we try to run from God, He is always there. God is omnipresent which means His divine presence is everywhere at the same time.
2. God corrects us when we need it
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; For whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son on whom he delights.” (Proverbs 3:11-12)
When God corrects us, we need to remember why He corrects us. God loves us and always has the best for us. It’s always for our good and to develop our character into the person that He intends us to be.
3. God is merciful towards us
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)
God’s mercy for us is amazing and is new every day. What great hope and comfort this gives us each day, knowing that God is constantly extending to us what we do not deserve. He is an awesome God.
Running towards God
When it comes to running towards God, it can sometimes be a challenge for us to do this especially when we find ourselves in difficult situations. Just like a professional runner takes the time to train and be disciplined, we must also be intentional about running towards God no matter what situation we are facing.
We must be reminded not to allow these difficult situations to make us run from God like Jonah, but instead run towards God like David did. The Bible says that David was a man after God’s heart. Despite his many flaws and failures, He was a man after God’s heart. He would run towards God.
Have you ever tried to run from God? How did that turn out?
What about running towards God? Please share your experience below. We would love to hear about it.
At OMS Canada, we have a new blog each week which will encourage you to run towards God, grow in your faith, and share the Good News of Jesus with others who need to hear. Click here to check out our blog page and share it with others so that they may also be encouraged.
May the Lord continue to equip us in every way as we run towards Him.
THE HABIT OF STEWARDSHIP-TIME
Think for a moment: What events have produced the most stress in your life last week? Have they involved the feeling of being overloaded with responsibilities at home, work, school, church, or all of the above? How about stress related to paying bills? Running late for an appointment? Going with too little sleep? Juggling your finances? Waiting in a traffic jam on the highway or a runway? Facing unexpected car repair expenses? Running short of cash before payday?
Each one of these anxiety producers, like so many other daily issues, relate to either time or money. The clock and the dollar are such substantial factors in so many parts of life that we need to consider their role in any serious discussion of godly living.
We will look at the stewardship of our time this week and at stewardship of our finances next time.
The Disciplined Use of Time
As we have discussed already, godliness is the result of a biblically disciplined spiritual life. But at the heart of a disciplined spiritual life is the disciplined use of time.
To be like Jesus, we must see the use of our time as a spiritual discipline. Having so perfectly ordered His moments and His days, Jesus was able to pray to the Father at the end of His life, “I glorified You on earth, having accomplished the work that You gave me to do” (John 17:4). As with Jesus, God gives us both the gift of time and work to do during that time. The more we grow to be like Jesus, the more we understand why the disciplined use of the time God gives is so important.
So, here are ten biblical reasons to use time wisely:
1. Use time wisely because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-16)
Paul exhorts the Ephesians to ‘make the best use of time because the days are evil.’ This curious phrase may have been prompted by persecution or opposition that the Ephesian believers may have been facing (Acts 19:23-20:1). But even without the persecution known by believers of Paul’s day, the world we live in makes it difficult to use time wisely, especially for the purpose of godliness and biblical spirituality.
Our days are days of active evil. Great time-thieves act as servants of the world, the flesh, and the devil. They may range in form from high-tech, socially acceptable preoccupations to simple, idle talk or uncontrolled thoughts. But the natural course of our minds, our bodies, our world and our days leads toward evil, not Christlikeness.
The use of time is important because time is the stuff of which days are made. If we do not discipline our use of time for the purpose of godliness in these evil days, these evil days will keep us from becoming godly.
2. The wise use of time is preparation for eternity.
You must prepare for eternity in time. That statement can be taken in two different ways. One means that during time (in this life) you must prepare for eternity because there will be no second chance once this life is over. Regardless of when or how death occurs, there is a specific day on the calendar when all my preparation for eternity will indeed be over. And since that day could be any day, I need to use my time wisely because it’s all the time I have to prepare for where I will endlessly live beyond the grave.
The second meaning of the phrase “You must prepare for eternity in time,” is that you must prepare for eternity before it is too late. 2 Corinthians 6:2 is the spiritual alert that must be sounded at this point. “Behold, now is the favourable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” Right now is the right time to prepare for where you will spend eternity. If that is an uncertain or unsettled matter for you, take the time to settle it now. You have no guarantee of any more time than this moment to prepare for eternity.
3. Time is short.
The more scarce an item is, the more value is assigned to it. Gold and diamonds would be worthless if you could pick them up like gravel along the roadway. In just the same way, time would not be so precious if we never died. But since we never live more than one breath away from eternity, the way we use our time has eternal significance.
Even though many years of life may remain for you, the fact remains, “You are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14). Even the very longest life is short in comparison to eternity. You can probably remember a happy or tragic event from your childhood or teenage years as vividly as if it happened yesterday. The reason you can is that it simply hasn’t been that long ago. When you think that a decade as only 120 months, a great chunk of time suddenly seems much shorter.
So, regardless of how much time remains for you to develop more Christlikeness, it really isn’t much. Use it well.
4. Time is passing.
Not only is time short, but what does remain is passing. Time is not like a bag of ice in the freezer, from which you can take a little now and again as you need it and save the rest for later. Instead, time is really like the sand in an hourglass – what’s left is continuously slipping away. John put it very plainly: “The world is passing away along with its desires” (1 John 2:17). Passing along with the world is our time in it.
As a child, time seemed to drag on. Now I find myself saying what I remember my parents saying: “I can’t believe another year is over! Where has the time gone?” It seems that the closer we get to the end, the faster it comes. If I don’t discipline myself for the purpose of godliness now, it won’t be any easier later.
5. The remaining time is uncertain.
Not only is time short and passing, but we don’t even know how short it actually is nor how long before it does all pass away. That’s why the wisdom of Proverbs 27:1 tells us, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.” Thousands have died and gone into eternity today, including many much younger than you, who just hours ago had no idea that today was their last day. Had they known that, their use of time would have become far more important to them.
Neither youth nor strength, stardom nor stature obligates God to give us one more hour of time. Regardless of how long we want to live or expect to live, our time is in His hands (Psalm 31:15).
Obviously, we must make some types of plans as though many more years do remain for us. But a proper recognition of reality calls us to use our time for the purpose of godliness as though it were uncertain we would live tomorrow for that is a very certain uncertainty.
6. Lost time cannot be regained.
Many things can be lost and then regained. Many men and women have declared bankruptcy only to amass an even greater fortune later. Time is different. Once it is gone, it is gone forever and can never be regained.
God offers you this present time to discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness. Jesus said in John 9:4, “We must work the works of Him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work.” The time for godly living is now while it is day. For each of us, night is coming and none of us can stop or slow the approach of that night. Despite how we may have squandered time in the past, the will of God for you is found in the words of Paul: “Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). Through the work of Jesus to repentant believers, God will forgive every second of misused time. And it pleases Him for you to discipline the balance of your time for the purpose of godliness.
7. You are accountable to God for your time.
There is hardly a more sobering statement in the Bible than Romans 14:12: “So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” The words ‘each of us’ applies to Christians and non-Christians alike. And, even though believers will be saved by grace and not by works, once in heaven our reward there will be based on the basis of our works. The Lord will cause each one’s work to be ‘shown for what it really is,’ and for each, it will be either that he will receive a reward or he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved but only as through fire (1 Corinthians 3:13-15). Not only will we be held accountable for our use of time, but our eternal reward will be directly related to it.
Hebrews 5:12 shows us something of how God will hold us accountable at the Judgement for our use of time in disciplining ourselves for the purpose of godliness. In these verses, God criticizes these Jewish Christians for failing to use their time in a way that develops spiritual maturity: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food.” If, as here, God holds believers still on earth responsible for not disciplining their time for Christlikeness, He will surely do at the Judgement in heaven.
Deciding to discipline yourself to use your time for the purpose of godliness is not a matter for delay or deliberation. Each hour that passes is another for which you will give an account.
8. Time is so easily lost.
Apart from the fool, there is no other character in the book of Proverbs that draws the scorn of Scripture like the slothful sluggard. The reason? His lazy and wasteful use of time. The sluggard never has time for the things that really matter, especially things that require discipline. And before he realizes it, his time and opportunities expire. “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber and want like an armed man” (Proverbs 24:33-34). Notice that it’s just a ‘little’ sleep, a ‘little’ slumber, a ‘little’ folding of the hands that brought the ruin of lost time and opportunity. It’s so easy to lose so much, just a little at a time. You don’t have to do anything at all to lost time.
9. We value time at death.
Just as the person without money values it most when it’s gone, so do we at death value time most when it is gone.
Most pursue a course of life based more on pleasure than on the joy found in the way of God’s disciplines. God warns them through His Word of the regrets that will cut their hearts when their time runs out. “At the end of your life you groan when your flesh and body are consumed, and you say, “How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof! I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to my instructors.” (Proverbs 5:11-13). If, like this man, you suddenly understood you had no more time, would you also regret how you’ve spent your time in the past and present? The way you have used your time can instead provide great comfort to you in your last hour. Won’t you be glad then for every moment you spent reading Scripture, praying, worshipping, evangelizing, serving, fasting, and so on for the purpose of becoming like the One before whom you are about to stand in judgement?
Why not do something about it while you still have time?
10. Time’s value in eternity.
It is doubtful that in heaven we experience regret, but if we did it would be for not using our earthly time more for the glory of God and for growth in His grace. Hell, on the other hand, will howl forever with agonizing laments over time so foolishly squandered.
Let us learn the true value of time by encountering the truth and discipline our time for the purpose of godliness. After all, if you have given your life to Christ, “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). “Your” life and “your” time belong to God now. The best and most joy-filled way to spend them is to use them the way God wants.
So how are you doing with your time? We will all have some room for improvement. What can you do this week to make better use of your time for the purpose of becoming more Christ-like? Let us know in the comments. We would love to pray with you about this most important matter.