Time management is an important topic in our day and age, especially for Christians. Recently I read a sermon by Jonathan Edwards–one of the best time managers the church has ever seen–on this issue and I was left with a lot to think about. Today I am posting some of my thoughts on this issues, and on the sermon delivered by Edwards. The Bible gives us a lot to think about on this topic, and Edwards brings this out in a typically Edwardsian fashion.
Ephesians 5:16: “…make the best use of time, because the days are evil.”
Jonathan Edwards: “Upon time we should set a high value, and be exceeding careful that it be not lost; and we are therefore exhorted to exercise wisdom and circumspection, in order that we may redeem it. And hence it appears, that time is exceedingly precious.”
I. Why Is Time Precious?
1. How we use our time has eternal and temporal consequences.
Scripture: Mt 6:19-21; 2 Thess 3:10
Edwards: Hence it is that time is so exceedingly precious, because by it we have opportunity of escaping everlasting misery, and of obtaining everlasting blessedness and glory.
2. Time is very short.
Scripture: Job 9:25-26; James 4:14
Edwards: Time is so short, and the work which we have to do in it is so great, that we have none of it to spare. The work which we have to do to prepare for eternity, must be done in time, or it never can be done….
3. We don’t know when we will run out of time.
Scripture: Prov 27:1
Edwards: We are every day uncertain whether that day will not be the last, or whether we are to have the whole day.
4. We cannot get time back.
Illustration: Just think of how quickly your children have grown up.
Edwards: If a man should lose the whole of his worldly substance, and become a bankrupt, it is possible that his loss may be made up. He may have another estate as good. But when the time of life is gone, it is impossible that we should ever obtain another such time. All opportunity of obtaining eternal welfare is utterly and everlastingly gone.
II. How do we waste our time?
1. We waste our time with idleness.
Scripture: Prov 19:15; Prov 23:21; Prov 14:23; Prov 18:9; Eph 4:28
Edwards: … if it were as common a thing for them to throw away their money, as it is for them to throw away their time, we should think them beside themselves, and not in the possession of their right minds. Yet time is a thousand times more precious than money; and when it is gone, cannot be purchased for money, cannot be redeemed by silver or gold.
2. We waste our time with wickedness
Scripture: Isa 55:7
Edwards: …they are reproved by this doctrine who spend their time in wickedness, who do not merely spend their time in doing nothing to any good
purpose, but spend it to ill purposes. Such do not only lose their time, but they do worse; with it they hurt both themselves and others.
3. We waste our time by pursuing worldly goals at the expense of our souls
Scripture: Mt 6:19-21
Edwards: They, therefore, whose time is taken up in caring and laboring for the world only, in inquiring what they shall eat, and what they shall drink, and wherewithal they shall be clothed; in contriving to lay up for themselves treasure upon earth, how to enrich themselves, how to make themselves great in the world, or how to live in comfortable and pleasant circumstances, while here; who busy their minds and employ their strength in these things only, and the stream of whose affections is directed towards these things; they lose their precious time.
III. Reasons to manage our time better
1. You are accountable to God for your time.
Scripture: Mt 12:36
Edwards: Time is a talent given us by God; he hath set us our day; and it is not for nothing. Our day was appointed for some work; therefore he will, at the day’s end, call us to an account. We must give account to him of the improvement of all our time.
2. You have already lost time.
Illustration: If you are losing money with an investment strategy you change strategies.
Edwards: The devil makes fools of them; for when they are young, he tells them, there is time enough hereafter, there is no need of being in haste, it will be better seeking salvation hereafter; and then they believe him. Afterwards, when their youth is past, he tells them, that now they have lost so much, and the best of their time, that it is not worth their while to attempt to do anything; and now they believe him too.
3. In you later years you don’t want to regret the time you wasted.
Illustration: Youth shouldn’t be wasted on the young
Edwards: What a sense of its preciousness have poor sinners sometimes, when they are on their deathbeds! Such have cried out, O, a thousand worlds for an inch of time! Then time appears to them indeed precious.
4. You don’t want to spend eternity regretting how you spent your time.
Scripture: Luke 16:19-31 (The Rich Man and Lazarus)
Edwards: Though they were very lavish of their time while they lived, and set no great value upon it; yet how have they changed their judgments! How would they value the opportunity which you have, if they might but have it granted to them! What would they not give for one of your days, under the means of grace! — So will you, first or last, be convinced. But if you be not convinced except in the manner in which they are, it will be too late.
IV. Ways to better manage your time
1. Don’t wait to get started
Scripture: Ps 119:60
Edwards: If you delay and put off its improvement, still more time will be lost; and it will be an evidence that you are not sensible of its preciousness.
2. Make times of worship and service a priority
Scripture: Isa 55:6
Edwards: …improve those parts of time which are most precious. Though all time is very precious, yet some parts are more precious than others; as, particularly, holy time is more precious than common time. Such time is of great advantage for our everlasting welfare. Therefore, above all, improve your Sabbaths, and especially the time of public worship, which is the most precious part. Lose it not either in sleep, or in carelessness, inattention, and wandering imaginations.
3. Use your leisure time for spiritual & physical refreshment
Scripture: Luke 4:4
Edwards: When we are most free from cares for the body, and business of an outward nature, a happy opportunity for the soul is afforded. Therefore spend not such opportunities unprofitably, nor in such a manner that you will not be able to give a good account thereof to God.