“Treasure the Time” Matthew 6:1-4 & 19-21 Ephesians 5:15-17
Do you feel motivated, or inspired, to serve Christ? I know I do... and I hope and pray that’s fairly obvious. I didn’t ask if you felt called to preach, or be a missionary to Cambodia... I’m asking, do you feel called to serve Jesus? And I think most Christians do feel a calling to serve... we’re compelled by the Holy Spirit to action... in some way, form or fashion... we want our lives to make a difference for the Kingdom of God. And to truly make our lives impactful (in other words, to make our lives both personally rewarding and pleasing to God)... then you and I must surrender the whole of our lives to Christ, and his Lordship... including... our time.
Time is our most valuable asset. Time is really all we have... our time is our life. And if you and I don’t manage our time, we’ll limit our life, and we may short-change the impact our life has for the Kingdom of God.
The scripture lesson from Ephesians 5:15-17 says it all: “Be very careful how you live... not like those who are unwise. Live wisely. You and I should use every chance we have for doing good, because these are evil times. So do not be foolish with your lives. But learn what the Lord wants you to do” (Paraphrase).
We all have the same amount of time, don’t we? 24-hours every day... 168 hours every week. It’s what you do with those hours that counts!
We’ve only been allotted a certain number of days in this world, and if we squander those days, it’s on us! If you waste your time, it’s the equivalent of wasting your life.
Of course, often when we feel like we’re “wasting time” we’re not. Especially “workaholics” or those who always have to be busy, physically doing something. We sometimes don’t know how to rest! We feel guilty if we’re not doing something (I know I do!). But resting is NOT wasting time. We need to know and recognize the difference between resting and wasting time.
We all need rest... and we need to be careful to allow for renewal... and rejuvenation. Rest is just as important as work. But... you and I know when we’re truly using our giftings and talents for Christ’s Kingdom, and for the Glory of God... just like we know when we’re recharging our batteries (so to speak) and when we’re just wasting our time.
Again: time EQUALS life. It’s not part of your life... it literally is your life. Life and time are inseparable on this Earth. You and I, as Christians, need to be always asking ourselves, “Is this the best use of the time God has given me? Is this the best use of my life?”
Of course, we all invest our time in the things we treasure most, don’t we? Jesus even said, “where your treasure is... THERE your heart will also be.” (Matthew 6:21). Good ole’ Thomas Jefferson even considered these words from Jesus so important that he included them in his greatly abridged version of the Gospels. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
I know Jesus’ words are certainly true in my own life:
I treasure my family... my wife... my relationships... my children... my grandchildren... which naturally means I’m gonna’ spend as much time as I can with the people that I love - I’m going to invest my life in my family.
I treasure knowledge... learning... education... That’s why Tammy and I made sure our children went to school everyday. It’s why I’ve invested time (as many of you have) in college, and grad school, seminary... “studying to show myself approved” - as Paul told his understudy, Timothy.
I treasure my job... my calling... I invest lots of time into the ministry we share together. I treasure this church... and understand that without my time... without my “prayers, presence, gifts and service”... without my “time, talent and treasure” - without my personal willingness and commitment to participate... there could very well be no Presbyterian Church here in West Point.
I treasure my community... and that’s why I’ve served on your City Council for 8-years. I believe in giving back to our community, in community service.
I treasure our country and our freedoms. It’s why I consider voting to almost be a sacrament! Some of you treasure our country so much that you volunteered to serve in the military.
You know, Jesus was right! Because the truth is (and our lives bear witness to the fact) that whatever you and I value most, that’s our treasure. Think about where you spend most of your time and money... that’s what you treasure. Whatever dominates our conversations... what others know you for is a good indication of what your treasure is.
I think it’s truthful to say (painful to say, but truthful), that most Christians are quick to claim God is their first priority... but their actions say otherwise. Because we spend our time on everything but serving Christ.
Of course, none of us have enough time to do everything. The good news is that God doesn’t expect you to do everything. So don’t feel guilty about it! There are only a few things worthy of doing in the first place.
And that’s what separates effective followers of Christ from those who participate from the periphery.
Effective followers of Christ, figure out what’s essential as opposed to what’s trivial, and they spend more time doing the essential things... and less time doing the trivial things. You can’t eliminate all the trivial in your life, but you can reduce it.
Of course, it all sounds easy enough - and it surely would be easy - IF what we’re talking about was a simple choice between right and wrong, good or bad. Sometimes it is... but most often it’s not so “cut and dried.” It’s often difficult to choose, because most of the time, it’s a choice between what’s good, and what’s better!
And the choice is even more difficult - when we’re tired, and weary, and burdened by life. When you’re tired you don’t want to do the “better” thing.
That’s why if you’re really going to fulfill and live into the calling, the compulsion, you feel to truly follow Christ... you and I have to understand our priorities, and... and... we have to rest in Christ’s strength, and not our own.
When we rest in Christ... when we take on his yoke... he promises to make our burden light. When we strive on our own, in our own strength, we become weary... mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. And when that happens, we’re tempted to swap what’s best, for something less than best. And that’s why these ancient words, are so very relevant, and meaningful, for us - even today.
“Be very careful... how you live - not as unwise - but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”
For this is the Word of God for the People of God. Thanks be to God. Amen.