ReVision

Paying Attention to Time

With time, we're either fools or wise.

Time for Restoration (4)

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5.15, 16

Wasted time
Most of us would be surprised, I think, to discover how much of the precious gift of time we invest in activities other than seeking and advancing the Kingdom of God – activities which, like the wicked steward’s buried talent, bring no return on investment for the Lord and the work of restoration.

I used to teach a time management seminar to business and professional men, and the first thing I had them do in the course was to keep track of their time in 30-minute segments for one week. Write down everything they did, every day, every 30 minutes.

Then I asked them, at the end of the week, to review the time of their lives and tally up how much of it they actually wasted during the week. This instruction was usually met with objections: “We’re professionals. We don’t waste time.” “Humor me,” I would reply.

It never failed. They would come to the second session looking a bit hang-dog and reporting that, to their chagrin and surprise, they didn’t waste a few minutes here and there, but hours, hours of time they could not describe in fruitful or productive terms.

And I suspect that most of us are like those poor, enlightened guys. How does it happen that we waste time, even when we think we’re not wasting time? I can think of two reasons.

Why do we do this?
One reason this happens is that we have never learned how to conduct our daily lives from a Kingdom vantage point and within a restoration framework. Our job, our relationships at home, taking care of the everyday business of staying healthy and managing our activities and possessions – for many believers, indeed, perhaps most, such things are not typically looked upon as Kingdom activities.

For many believers, the Kingdom of God has nothing much to say about how they do their work, take care of their yard, converse with their friends, or use their free time. These are considered as “non-Kingdom” time for most believers, with the result that hours and hours of time each week, given to us by the Lord for the purposes of restoring the reconciled world, are simply lost to merely temporal and fleeting ends.

“Kingdom time”, as most Christians think about it, is church time, when I’m with my Christian friends, doing my Christian thing, in my decidedly Christian setting.

Here there is a need, if we are to make the best use of our time for restoration, for more focused study in Scripture, to understand how the mind of Christ teaches us to approach all our work for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

The Bible is given to teach and equip us for every good work (2 Tim. 3.15-17). It instructs us how to conduct every aspect of our lives as unto the Lord, rather than to men – even, merely, to satisfy ourselves (Col. 3.23, 24). But we’ll never understand or begin to practice this teaching – and, thus, we will continue to squander Kingdom time on non-restorative activities – until we give ourselves diligently and continuously to the task of learning how the Scriptures shape our thoughts and practice in every area of life.

Kingdom time all the time
A second reason we waste so much time is that we don’t follow Paul’s command to “walk circumspectly” concerning how we use our time each day. We fall into habits and routines of time usage, without ever taking the time to consider just how the time of our lives is being invested and spent.

Paul says we must not use our time like unwise people, people who have no regard for how the wisdom of God, or seeking the Kingdom, or doing the work of restoration plays out in the time of our lives. We are called to live as wise people, trusting in the Lord with all our hearts and in all our ways acknowledging His Lordship over our lives and time (Prov. 3.5, 6; Eph. 5.17). The fool says, “My time is my own; I can do with it whatever I will.” The wise person says, “Thank You, Lord, for the gift of time. Help me to use all of it wisely.”

So we need to develop a means of paying closer attention to how we use our time, in order both to live wisely in the time of our lives, and to be sure in our own hearts that we have made the most of the moments granted us each day.

We’re no different from those business and professional men I taught years ago. It might be an interesting activity for you to track your time in 30-minute blocks for a week or so, to “walk circumspectly” and determine whether you’re living as a wise person, using your time for the progress of the Kingdom, or like a fool.

You might be surprised – or chagrined – at what you discover. 

Certainly one thing we can begin to do is to cover the time of our lives with prayer: “Teach us to number our days,” Moses prayed, “that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90.12). Each morning, pray about the day ahead. Pray in specific detail, for specific needs and opportunities, for the work of restoration that can go forward in all the work you do in the day ahead. Pray for a restoration mindset, that allows you to see everything in your life as an opportunity for making all things new. Pray as you move from one activity to the next. Pray for the activity that just ended and the one you’re just about to begin. Ask Jesus to give you wisdom, and to use you in making all things new. Review your day in prayer at the end of the day, and begin praying about the next day, committing yourself and everything you do to being faithful in seeking and advancing the Kingdom and righteousness of God.

What are you presently doing to “walk circumspectly” where your time is concerned? If you’re doing nothing, then you may be wasting the gift of time that God has given you for the ministry of reconciliation. We have to determine where the time of our lives is going, and do whatever we can do to improve our time for restoring the reconciled world. And we need to keep this up continually. You may end up doing exactly the same things you’ve been doing every day, but hopefully, you’ll do them with a different mindset. Walk circumspectly, and work to use all your time for the glory of God.

Time is too precious a gift, and it is given for too specific a purpose, for us who know the Lord not to make the best use of all our time for the glory of Christ, the progress of His Kingdom, and the work of restoration.

For reflection
1. Have you ever kept track of your time like was suggested in this article? What did you learn?

2. What are you doing now to make sure that you “walk circumspectly” in all the time of your life?

3. What can you do in prayer to improve the time of your life?

Next steps – Preparation: Where does your time go? Write to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and I’ll send you “The Time of Your Life,” a week-long exercise in keeping track of your time and beginning to make better use of it.

 T. M. Moore

I’d like to send you a copy of Jonathan Edwards’ sermon “The Preciousness of Time.” Write to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and I’ll send you a PDF of this important message.

 

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T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore