Monday, September 28, 2009
Current Study: First Peter
Today’s Topic: The Wrong Use of Time
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 4:8-10 (NIV) Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.
We live in a time when our most precious commodity is time. We love fast food. We frequent convenience stores. We get our cars serviced at jiffy lube places. We travel on freeways well above the posted speed limits. We use microwaves to cook our food. We have picture-in-picture televisions so we can watch two shows at once. Most of our time is spent trying to conserve more time.
If one hundred people were asked why they live in such a rush, there would likely be one hundred different answers. I believe wholeheartedly that not one of those answers would be the right one. We are in denial about the real reason for our preoccupation with time. We don’t want to face the truth about our perceived need for more time. We justify the passionate pursuit of time by placing blame on our culture, our employer, or our financial needs. We stop short of getting to the heart of the issue, which is our heart.
Just stop and think for a moment, if you dare to take one. If you do, you will discover that an extremely high percentage of the activities you list as your priorities are completely self-serving. We want more time for recreation. We want more time to make more money. We want more time to spend with family. We want more time to finish projects. We want to spend more time just being quiet and relaxed. All are justifiable. Most are necessary. None are to be our first priority.
Jesus told us what our first and second priorities are to be – love the Lord your God with all your heart…and love your neighbor as yourself. These two things are to be the pursuit of our lives. Any attempt to organize our time so we have more time is to be motivated by the love of God and love for others. I understand completely the need for personal space and time. But read the Gospels again, and put a percentage on the amount of time Jesus spent alone versus the percentage of time He invested in others. Why has our focus changed so drastically and dangerously? It’s because we are more self-focused than we dare to admit.
One of the serious consequences of our fast-paced lifestyles is the loss of the biblical concept of hospitality. We spend almost every spare minute we have trying to catch up. The problem is we are catching up to a list that has been created to fulfill the desires of self. It is not to be so. The time we have is to be spent investing in the Kingdom of God, not the kingdom of self. Our first priority and our first option for the use of spare time should be to somehow minister to the needs of others, not self.
The Holy Spirit makes this very clear when he writes through Peter, Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. It may appear that we do this, but usually only in big ways. We give extra money to help people who are in need. We gather in groups to roof houses, help people move to a new home, or provide help in an emergency. But be honest – when was the last time you just had someone over for ice cream and fellowship? We’re too busy, right? And if we’re too busy to do it to those in the family of God, how will we ever find the time to reach out to the lost?
I want to share with you something I read in church yesterday. It’s from my dear friend Dudley Donaldson, who is now on the mission field in Swaziland. He writes:
If only people could get the proper perspective. Time is slipping away, people are dying without Christ, while we Christians are analyzing the current financial situation, trying to figure out how to make our lives more enjoyable here on earth. Can’t wait for the next special effects movie to come out. Looking for the newest electronics product. Making sure our kids experience everything possible there is to experience in this world. Upgrading cars, bikes, houses, phones, ipods, you name it. It’s mind-boggling how invested we are in this wicked world when there are people all around us who are desperate to invest in something real. SomeONE real. We know God wants us to reach them with the gospel. We say we believe God will provide, but…
Giving everything to God is a relatively new experience for me. But my experience in giving all to God is this: there is no better place to be than to have nothing of this world and all of Christ. As Christians we have bought into the world’s philosophy of needing to be people of power, people of excellence, people who are winners through positive thinking, having faith in ourselves. But Jesus taught us a different way. He taught the way of surrender and selflessness. If only people could truly grab hold of those teachings. There is nothing in this world that is more important than the souls of people all around us on their way to hell. And we’re concerned about what’s on TV tonight.
I’m living in the real world here in Swaziland. American is not the real world. It’s a fantasy land. In America we are too bombarded with false messages to hear and comprehend Christ’s message to us. His message is: “Get busy, time is short. People are dying without me.”
“What keeps you from giving now? Isn’t the poor man there? Aren’t your own warehouses full? Isn’t the reward promised? The command is clear: the hungry man is dying now, the naked man is freezing now, the man in debt is beaten now—and you want to wait until tomorrow? ‘I’m not doing any harm,’ you say, ‘I just want to keep what I own, that’s all.’ Your own! If everyone took only what he needed and gave the rest to those in need there would be no such thing as rich or poor.” (A quote from St. Basil)
I know this was long, and it took more time to read than usual. But isn’t the time invested in spiritual things worth much more than what you are hurrying off to do after you’re done with this? Maybe your mind is already gone from this. Well get it back, and let’s work together to get our priorities straight. Let’s learn to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and to love our neighbors deeply. Let’s practice hospitality. Let’s start using everything we have to serve others and not ourselves.