Christians and Time Management

Americans as a whole devote considerable amounts of time to leisure activities.

  • We will happily devote a couple of hours to watching an interesting movie.
  • We will sit through an entire NFL game on television, which averages 3 hours 12 minutes of airtime, with over 100 commercials and only 11 minutes of actual play.
  • NASCAR races take 3-5 hours.
  • Some prefer to run, walk, jog, bike, kayak, etc. regularly for extended periods of time.

There is nothing inherently wrong with watching a movie, a game, a race, or going for a run. In fact, having times of rest, relaxation, and refreshment is vital for our mental and physical health. But it may be beneficial to consider our use of time on such activities in comparison to our devotion to spiritual disciplines.

  • In Luke 6:12, Jesus spent all night in prayer.
  • In Mark 14:32-42, at the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus expressed concern that His closest friends could not devote even one hour to watching and praying for Him without falling asleep.
  • In Luke 6, the apostles sought out willing servants to help with the churches work, so that they could devote more time to the Word and prayer.
  • David often remarked in the Psalms that he meditated on God’s Word day and night. He often lay on his bed during the watches of the night, treasuring God’s commands.

Of course, praying long prayers or devoting countless hours to study is not some formulaic way to earn God’s favor. We should not “babble on” in lengthy prayers in he hope that we will “be heard for our many words” as those who are mentioned in Matthew 6:7.

But it might surprise us how little time we actually devote to the Lord, if we were to time it. Why not give it a try? Perhaps see how it feels to spend half an hour in prayer a few nights this week.

The goal is not to achieve a higher spiritual status by enduring monotonous disciplines. This is simply a reminder for us all that our use of time can be an indicator of our hearts deepest desires.

God Acknowledges Our Suffering

To be human means to be capable of suffering.

Those who have experienced chronic pain, clinical depression, or serious illnesses of any sort are all too familiar with this fact. In many cases, the sufferer is surrounded by individuals who are not so familiar with suffering and whose best advice seems just about useless if not upsetting.

The scriptures don’t offer magical incantations or curt advice. The Bible does, however, acknowledge the situation. If you’re like me, you appreciate it when your sacrifices or difficulties are at least acknowledged rather than undermined or ignored.

God acknowledges that people suffer bitterly.

Elijah prayed earnestly to God that he might die right then and there. (1st Kings 19:3-5)

David drenched his pillow with tears as he cried at night. (Psalm 6:6-7)

Job spends the entire 26 verses of Job chapter 3 cursing the day he was born. He asks:

“Why did I not perish at birth,
and die as I came from the womb?
Why were there knees to receive me
and breasts that I might be nursed?
For now I would be lying down in peace;
I would be asleep and at rest.”

God could have left these accounts out of His word if He had wanted to ignore the reality of our pain.

God’s word also acknowledges that cheap advice is frustrating and doesn’t work. The book of Job contains almost 30 chapters of Job’s friends providing useless and accusatory suggestions instead of gently supporting him. At the end of the book, Job’s friends are asking him to pray for them because of their foolishness.

Paul, whose suffering included numerous severe beatings, lashings, shipwrecks, imprisonments, and physical ailments (2 Corinthians 11:23-29, Galatians 4:13) did not offer any cute little pieces of advice, but he did give us some hope to hold onto:

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10)

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Corinthians 8:18)

Crown of Thorns