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.

Self-Examination

In our recent sermon on dealing with sin we looked at Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 7 to examine ourselves first before making judgments about the actions of others. “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”

This is not the only Bible passage that talks about self-examination.

  • In 2 Corinthians 13:5, Christians are told, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.”
  • 1 Corinthians 11:28 applies this idea specifically to observing the Lord’s Supper: a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.”
  • In Lamentations 3:40, Israel was exhorted, Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord!”

He may not have stated it directly, but Jesus encouraged His listeners to examine themselves when He said:  “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”

Jesus was emphasizing that the way we look at the world colors all of our experiences. The wise man will stop to consider not only what he sees, but also the eye with which he sees it and the mind with which he interprets it.

There is so much that needs to be done in the world. Billions of people need to know about Christ, including many of our friends and family. But before we can take the next step, we must make sure that we are right with God in our own personal lives.

May it never be said of us what Jesus said of the religious leaders in His life, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” The Pharisees had big plans for traveling the world and making disciples, but they had failed to disciple themselves.

As Ravi Zacharias says of the contemporary man, “Like Alexander the Great, he has conquered the world around him, but has not yet conquered himself.”

Self-examination is not seeking to justify ourselves by comparing our actions to those of other people. Rather than being satisfied with being “better than so-and-so,” we must step back and evaluate ourselves objectively.

Each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. (Galatians 6:4)

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