Time for Restoration (1)
“So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.” Matthew 25.28, 29
God has given us, the followers of Jesus Christ, the ministry of reconciliation. Jesus has reconciled the world to God, and we do not presume to replicate – even if we could – the great work He has accomplished in banishing death and hell, taking away the sins of the world, and giving us His Kingdom. Our part in the ministry of reconciliation is the work of restoring the reconciled world by making disciples, building Christ’s Church, and advancing His rule on earth as it is in heaven. We are working to make all things new, as Christ is at work within us, willing and doing of God’s good pleasure.
And we must always bear in mind that the work of restoration is a continuous, all-encompassing calling, requiring us to take every thought captive for obedience to Christ, put all things under the feet of Jesus, and glorify God in all things. Restoration is hard and glorious work, and the work we’ve been given to do is greater than the job at which we work.
Restoring the reconciled world takes time. And unless we have Jesus’ view of time, and use our time in line with the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2.16), we risk frittering away our time or, worse, fumbling the time of our lives into the hands of the enemy of our souls, who seeks to destroy God’s creation, rather than restore it.
Our generation never seems to have enough time to do everything we want. “Where does the time go?” we ask, as the moments of our lives slip away without our noticing. “I just don’t have the time!” is the complaint we hear from many, when challenged to a more demanding life of discipleship and service in the Kingdom of God.
Of course, we all have exactly the same amount of time. But if I understand the parable of the talents correctly, it may actually be possible to gain more time to pursue the things that matter most in life – the work of restoring the reconciled world.
Time and the talents
The parable of the talents (Matt. 25.14-30) relates the familiar story of three servants entrusted with unequal amounts of their master’s wealth, and charged with the duty of making more of that wealth before he returns. Two succeed, while one squanders the opportunity by timidly hiding his talent rather than investing it for his master’s benefit.
At the end of the parable, the unfaithful servant is chided, and his amount of money is taken from him and given to the one who made the best use of that which he had been given. Thus, the parable ends with Jesus saying, “to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance”.
Jonathan Edwards, that great Puritan preacher and theologian, explained that of all the gifts God gives to His people, excepting that of salvation, the gift of time is the most precious. Everything that we are and do takes place in time. Each of us has just as much time as all the rest of us – twenty-four hours in every day. But some people seem actually to have more time than others, which is apparent by what they are able to accomplish with the time they have.
The time of our lives, like the talents in the parable, is a resource God gives us each day, that we might complete the work He has given us to do.
Making the most of our time
I worked one summer with a master builder and craftsman named Ernie Daniels. Ernie loved the Lord and loved doing his work as unto the Lord. He knew every tool and its proper use, and there wasn’t a construction job or repair task that Ernie had not accomplished at some point in his career.
One day Ernie had several work orders to complete, which he felt he could accomplish on his own. So he gave me one task to do – reverse a wrongly-installed doorknob and lock in a hotel door. When I’d finished that, he told me, I’d have plenty of time to clean up the workshop before the end of the day. I was charged with restoring a malfunctioning lock, because the way it was, was not the way it was supposed to be.
Simple enough, I thought.
Except that I’d never done this task before, and once I got the doorknob apart, I could not, for the life of me, figure out how to get it back on correctly. It took me nearly the entire afternoon to complete this simple task! By the time I finally got back to the workshop, Ernie was already there and had cleaned the whole place up without me. He graciously laughed at my ineptitude and assured me it was OK. Ernie understood that I was not trained to use my time for this kind of work, and so it made sense that, since he was, and was vastly more experienced in such tasks than I, he would get more out of his time than I did.
Following Jesus Christ is just like this – except that believers do not have the excuse of saying, like I did to Ernie, “This just isn’t what I do well.” All believers are called to follow Jesus Christ, all the time of their lives, and to devote all their time to growing in Him, bearing fruit for His Kingdom, and doing the work of restoring the reconciled world.
As Paul put it, we must learn to “make the most” of the time allotted to us for the cause of Christ and His Kingdom, for any time not wholly invested in the work we’ve been given to do will be lost to the forces of wickedness and unbelief (Eph. 5.15-17). We need to be wise, and not foolish, in how we use the precious time God allots us each day.
The time of our lives is a gift from God, which He bestows on us, moment by moment, so that we will use it in the work of restoring the reconciled world. Our duty is to receive and master the use of this gift; and God’s promise is that, if we will, we will never lack for time to grow in the Lord and to realize significant progress in restoring the reconciled world.
1. In what sense is time a gift from God? When does that gift come to us?
2. Why is it important that we use our time for God and His glory? What happens to the time we do not use this way?
3. What are some things that can keep you from using your time like the good stewards in the parable of the talents?
T. M. Moore
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