Don’t Let Time Devour You
“This thing all things devours; Birds, beasts, trees, flowers; Gnaws iron, bites steel, Grinds hard stone to meal; Slays king, ruins town, And beats mountain down.”
This is the final riddle that Bilbo Baggins had to answer in his life or death battle of the wits with the creature Gollum in J.R.R. Tolkien’s masterful work The Hobbit. The answer of course is… time. If given enough of it, time will ultimately devour everything in its path, especially if not managed well. Many at the end of their lives look back, wondering where all the time went, with a deep sense of shame and regret at how much time they wasted. Maybe now you are feeling the teeth of time biting down on you as you read this. “I need more time,” you might think to yourself, “because if I just had this many hours in the week I could finally be the ________ I always wanted to be.” But, more time will not be given. Everyone gets the same 168 hours a week, and it can either devour you or you can, by God’s power, make the best use of each hour that God has given you. Here are two quick points to help you renew the time that you have for its best possible use.
“If you want to renew your time, know what is most important, and be intentional to spend your time on those things.”
1. You do not need more time.
15Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,16making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.(Ephesians 5:15-16 ESV)
The bible is very clear about time. It is against you and kingdom purposes. Time, along with the rest of creation has fallen under the curse of sin and futility. What does that mean for us? It means that, left to itself, the time we have each day will never naturally “make the most of itself; we are to take back the time from poor uses and turn it to good.” The question is not really about whether or not you have enough time, but rather are you doing the right things with your time. Peter Drucker says it this way, “Nothing is less productive than to make efficient what should not be done at all.” And Stephen Colvey this way, “Don’t prioritize your schedule. Schedule your priorities.”
“We do not get to define what is most important for us. God does.”
The principle is the same. If you want to renew your time, know what is most important, and be intentional to spend your time on those things. In your life, however, you have many roles, each with important things that require your time. Your roles may include follower of Christ, spouse, parent, child, grandparent, church member, neighbor, employee, employer, friend, and so on. If you can clearly identify the roles that are most important and what things are most important in those roles, then you can truly walk as the wise and make the best use of your time.  The difference between Christian stewardship of time and the world’s stewardship of time is that we do not get to define what is most important for us. God does, which leads to the next point.
2. Your time is not about you.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.(Matthew 5:16 ESV)
Your time is about the glory of God and the good of others. Managing and using time in the way that God intends is actually an expression of love—a love for God and for others. Thus, the purpose of renewing the time you have is not about achieving peace of mind (though it may come naturally as a result), but rather to enable yourself to serve others better for the glory of God.  When time is viewed in this way, effective rhythms and practices are put in place that enable you to make the best use of your time and accomplish the things you actually want to accomplish.
- You make time to spend with the Lord in his word and prayer because you recognize your need for him and how you are insufficient to manage your time well.
- You fulfill your purpose as an image-bearer by making time to do good to others, rather than wasting your time on selfish pursuits or idle practices.
- You use the time you have been given to do the things that God has defined as most important for each of your roles. As a result of living out God’s design, your relationships flourish, the gospel spreads, and you can look back on the way you spent your time with gratitude and not regret.
“Your time is about the glory of God and the good of others.”
Through these rhythms and practices, God uses you to expand his kingdom and bring even greater glory to his name.
These 40 Days, our hope and prayer for our church is that each of you would carefully evaluate the way you are spending your time.
- Are you being intentional with your time?
- Are you using that time for the glory of God and the good of others?
- Have you established the necessary rhythms and practices for that to occur? What rhythms and practices need to be removed?
If not, start now! Don’t sit idly by as time devours your weeks and years. Know that the days are evil, number your days as the Psalmist says, and in wisdom, make the best use of time God has given you for the good of others and the glory of God.
Matt Perman. What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done. Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI. 2014, 65.
Adapted from What’s Best Next – Part 3: Define—Know What’s Most Important.