Guardian of Time (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
Priorities, values, wisdom, words, and deeds – the business of the conscience. All these interests and activities have this much in common: They come to expression in time. Time is the arena in which the decisions of the will, those mysterious siftings and sortings of mind, heart, and conscience, play out in our lives. Time is more precious than we know, and it is a primary role of the conscience to keep watch over our time, so that we make the best possible use of it.
Our generation never seems to have enough time to do everything we want to do. “Where does the time go?” we ask, as if somehow 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, it’s true that we all have the same amount of time. But if I understand the parable of the talents correctly, it may be possible to wring more from the time God grants us for pursuing the things that matter most in life.
A good conscience will be a diligent guardian of the time of our lives. And that will contribute mightily to our having a strong soul.
The parable of 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 it. Each was given what the master considered they could reasonably manage. And from each the master expected a return on his investment. Two succeeded, while one squandered the opportunity by timidly hiding his talent rather than investing it according to the master’s expectations.
At the end of the parable the master chides the unfaithful servant and gives his amount of money 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 abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.”
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 – 24 hours in every day. But some people seem to have more time than others, which is apparent by what they accomplish with the time they have.
The more conscious we are of the latent potential latent in the time of our lives and of the fact that time comes to us as a gift from God, the more we will give ourselves to making the most of our time. And this managing of priorities and choices is yet another function of the conscience.
The gift of time
One summer Susie and I were part of a contingent of volunteers working at the headquarters of an international ministry. We were all assigned, somewhat randomnly, to different jobs. I worked 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 or repair task that Ernie had not accomplished at some point in his career.
Me, not so much.
One day Ernie had several tasks to take care of, 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 – and then told me to spend the rest of the day cleaning up the workshop.
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 in 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 would.
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 and bearing fruit for His Kingdom. As our conscience becomes purified with His priorities, values, and wisdom (Heb. 9.14), we will find that more of our time is being devoted to our Kingdom-and-glory calling from the Lord. Consequently, we will know more of the Lord’s Presence and power, as we experience the full and abundant life He brings more completely and consistently.
As Paul put it, believers in Jesus Christ must learn to make the most of the time for the cause of Christ and His Kingdom, for any time not wholly invested in seeking the Kingdom and glory of Jesus Christ will be lost to the forces of wickedness and unbelief (Eph. 5.15-17).
The time of our lives is a gift from God, which He bestows on us, moment by moment, so that we will use it for His glory and Kingdom. Our calling is to receive and master the use of this gift, which we do by purifying our conscience to function as guardian of this most precious gift. God promises that, if we will, we will never lack for time to grow in the Lord or to further the purposes of His Kingdom.
1. Do you have a means for organizing and evaluating your time? Should you?
2. How can you tell when your time is being used for the Kingdom and glory of our Lord, and when it isn’t?
3. How would you explain the idea of “making the most of the time” to a new believer?
Next steps – Conversation: Talk with the Lord about these questions. Listen as He leads you to various Scriptures to guide your answers.
T. M. Moore
All the installments in this “Strong Souls” series are available in PDF by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.