Time Well Spent

At Chucky Cheese, Ethan blew almost all of his tokens on the fun machine gun games. I completely lost count on how many tokens he blew. It wasn’t a ticket producing game, but he seemed to be enamored with the idea of a machine gun that reloaded so easily.

When it was time to go, Ethan had some serious second thoughts about the way he spent his time/ tokens. The machine gun games might have been fun, but they sure didn’t produce any tickets to cash in at the toy store. He walked away empty handed. If only he had spent some time/ tokens at the skeet ball and racked up some tickets. Then he could’ve walked out with those Chinese finger cuffs that he had always wanted. Instead it was just tears and the memory of killing dinosaurs. He was experiencing a very foreign emotion for a 4 year old boy: regret.

We use the word “spending” when referring to how we use our time. I believe this is an appropriate word because time is a commodity that we have a limited amount of in much the same way as money. Time is a real live currency that I have in this life. How I spend it here will directly affect how I spend an eternity where there will be no more time.

The metaphor of “spending time” is a perfectly Biblical concept. It’s a currency that I am going to either spend wisely or unwisely.

Paul tells me in Ephesians 5 that I should redeem time. That term denotes a transaction, a currency. When I got a coupon from Bosco’s in the mail for a free pizza, I carried my butt to Bosco’s and handed the nice lady my coupon and got my free pizza. It was ultimately a worthless postcard sized piece of paper, but when I redeemed it, when I handed it in to the maker of it, I got a free pizza in exchange for it.

David prayed in Psalms 90:12 for God to teach him to number or count his days, and by doing that it would give David wisdom. By counting , keeping track, being aware of the amount of time we have, it gives us wisdom. It’s really just like a budget. I know how much I have, and it’s easier to know if I’m spending too much on one area and not enough on another.

Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes that to everything there is a season, or time. He goes on to refer to some of the things we spend our time on as meaningless. Some translations render that word as “vapor”. Which is such a perfect word picture for us. You can see it, it’s all around you, yet you can’t keep it, can’t take any with you. Vapor is gone once you leave it. It doesn’t follow you. Neither does time.

It’s easy for us to look at the parable of the talents that Jesus told in Matthew 25 and try to apply that to our abilities or talents; to think “Jesus gave some of lots of abilities like singing and art, and others of us not as many talents, but we’re still stewards of them”. I get it, and it makes sense, and is probably a good application of it.

But what if Jesus were talking also about time. Each of us is given a finite amount of it. Some of us will live to be a hundred, some will not. We all have a set amount of hours given to us here on. At some point, we’ve blown all our tokens and what’s left are the tickets that we get to cash in.

Like one of the examples in the parable, some of us get paralyzed and bury our time. Fear and worry about whether or not we’ll succeed or fail and so we don’t do anything. In Matthew 6 Jesus said, who of you can add one hour to your life by worrying. I don’t get to add any hours, in fact worrying ultimately subtracts from it.

No wonder Satan loves the sin of worrying. It steals our time. As the great poet Seth Godin puts it “Anxieity is nothing…but repeatedly re-experiencing failure in advance”.

And the tickets? That’s the fruit. Jesus called us in John 15 to bear much fruit, fruit that will last. Paul tells us the fruit of the spirit is Love. Fruit in that metaphor isn’t “souls saved” it’s Love. It’s the proof that the Spirit is inside of us that we are loving our neighbors quite literally and not just metaphorically.

To further this concept, in Matthew 25, right after Jesus finishes with the 3 parables that included the parable of the talents, He goes on to tell you and I the questions that He’s going to ask us on the day we’re cashing in our tickets. Did you feed me when I was hungry, did you clothe me when I was naked, did you give me to drink when I was thirsty?

As a church if we spend all our time building large buildings, putting programs in place, and for that matter just “going” to church, I just wonder how good of a use of time that is. Of all the things that Jesus tells us He’s going to ask us about on that day, those aren’t on the list. Are they sinful? Not necessarily, but are they fruit bearing?

Maybe I should put it this way. It’s not that it’s bad to spend some time on the machine gun games. It’s more of a question of balance and how much of my time I’m going to spend on the skeet ball; the ticket producing activities. Are we spending more time feeding the hungry and clothing the naked wrapped up in the gospel. Those are the things that earn us the tickets.

I’ve only got 337,260 hours left on this globe. At some point I’m going to have to look to the master and give an account for how I handled the talents/ time that He gave me. He might give you and me more or less, but at the end of it all we only have to give account for the time we’re given.

And our rewards? I don’t know what they are, I only know that if Jesus says they’re a reward, they’re going to make the Chinese finger cuffs a distant memory.

As we account for the time that Conduit Church is given. As we are counting the days. May we gain wisdom, may we be spending the majority of the time on the things that matter to God.

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