Stewardship 3: Time

Watch the video or read the lesson text … or both.

Lesson Text

Scripture readings:

Genesis 1:1-5
Matthew 6:27
Job 14:5
James 4:13-15
Jeremiah 8:18-22
Matthew 25:1-13
Mark 1:15
Mark 13:32

Discussion:

We are stewards over the time we are given in life. In Genesis 1:1-5, we see very plainly that God created time. God created the tools by which we measure time (sun, moon, earth) and time itself (the day). As we have discussed in prior lessons, we first look to whether or not we create, and if we do not, then we look at what our response or duty and responsibility should be. What does God expect with regards to our time?

In Matthew 6:27 and Job 14:5, we also see that we cannot add to our time. When looking at Biblical concepts, it is always helpful to review Jesus’ own words, and we see His words on time in Matthew 6:27. Since we did not create time, we also cannot add to time. Jesus is speaking here to the length of our days, as is Job 14:5.

As we turn to James 4:13-15, we begin to frame our response. We can summarize James 4:13-15 with one word – submission. God desires that we submit our time to Him. In a practical sense, this simply means to bring God into our decision-making processes. We can desire to do something, such as starting a college degree, start a career or embark on some other long-term project, but God desires that we give honor to Him by subjecting our plans to His will.

In another practical sense, we are to seek God with our time. Since Jesus said we cannot add to our time, then there is limited time to seek the Lord. Matthew 6:33 calls us to seek God first and His righteousness. Turning to Jeremiah 8:18-22, we see that the more time passes the less time we have to be saved. This phrase, “Harvest is past, summer is ended, and we are not saved,” is a sobering reminder that we can run out of time. It is an image of a people who have squandered the time they had and perhaps now cannot get back to God.

How many times have you heard (or said yourself), “I will seek the Lord at a more convenient time.” Unfortunately, we have no guarantee of tomorrow. Because the number of our days are determined, we must seek the Lord while He may be found (Isaiah 55:6). We have here, then, two different calls.

For the one who does not believe in God or has not accepted the gift of salvation, this is a call to seek the Lord while He is available to you and there is time remaining.

For the one who already believes on salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ, this is a call to be watchful, make full and diligent use of our time for the kingdom of heaven, and draw near to the Lord in the time that we have.

Watchfulness is a common theme in the New Testament of the Bible, and we see this in the parable Jesus told in Matthew 25:1-13. The day of the Lord is not for us to decide. When He calls, we must obey. If we do not obey, judgment will come when we least expect it, and the doorway back to God’s presence will close.

Watchfulness also includes diligence in working for the Lord while we have the time to do so. Going back to James 4:13-14, perhaps God is calling us and wants to use us in some form of ministry. Perhaps the Lord has a special purpose or mission for us to accomplish. For example, people have been led to pray at a specific time or to give at a specific time. Others have been prompted to go to certain places at a specific time. If we are dead-set on fulfilling our own desires, we miss honoring God’s will.

By not subjecting our time to God’s will and by being slow to respond to God, are more people missing heaven and perhaps dying without Christ? This alone is a challenge to use our time wisely and be quick and watchful for opportunities to invest our time in the kingdom of heaven.

A common example of subjecting our time to another is in the workplace. Our manager or the owner of a company sees the big picture or has made commitments and knows of deadlines. The employee often is unaware of all the moving parts which go into operating the business – keeping multiple clients happy at once, meeting outside deadlines, or even accommodating the requests or needs of other employees. While employees are often critical of their managers and company owners, it is often because the employee is unaware of many other moving parts beyond the scope of the employee’s job. The employee can become insubordinate by refusing to do a particular task or applying the employee’s own priority to tasks. In this way, the employee submits his or her time and own desires for the use of time to the superior. This is an image of how God works. We cannot know all that He sees and is orchestrating behind the scenes. As hard as it is, sometimes we have to trust Him that everything really is working out for our good and for the good of so many other people in the world.

Another point here is that we cannot know what a day will bring. Perhaps God would have us do something different because it would avoid something which may cause us undue pain. Time spent affectionately with a person God may not want us to marry could bring us closer to a marital disaster. Poor marriage decisions have sidelined good people from engaging in ministry or brought a life of hardship and pain that could have been avoided. This is just one example – the examples are limitless. God desires that we submit the use of our time to Him so that we can:

• fulfill His purpose for our life
• accomplish His purposes in the world
• give honor to Him
• obey His commandments (such as to go into all the world and make disciples)
• be diligent and watchful in the use of our time for the kingdom of heaven
• seek the Lord in the time that we have

In an overall, big-picture sense, it is God who orchestrates occurrences in the world. Examples of this include introducing the law of Moses, the calling of prophets such as Elijah, the birth of Jesus Christ, and the second coming of Jesus Christ. This is the thrust of Mark 1:15. It is God, not us, who determines when things happen, and particularly, events which speak to God’s glory. Remember, God is not bound by time.

Because God created time, He is able to and does transcend time. He is everlasting, which means He is beyond the measurement and confines of time. This can mean, and often does mean, that we wait much longer for something to happen than we would expect. God is not bound by our desires or impatience. His time is right and good and just.

And then, finally, we cannot determine when Jesus Christ will return. We see this teaching in Mark 13:32 (as well as Matthew 24:3,36-39,42, 25:13). We cannot hasten or predict His return. Our task, our response, if you will, is to use the time we have to be ready. For that matter, we should always be ready, for we do not know when we will run out of time.