Guys, if you just got tickets to the big game [or match, race, concert, etc.] and you put the ticket on the kitchen counter, but never actually use it; you didn’t get any benefit from the ticket, right? Our time – and the little and big opportunities we get each day are like that ticket. We can fly right past them and leave them unused – never to be available again – or we can seize them and use them.
For instance, I think of these situations:
- Your wife or girlfriend wants to sit and talk (really talk – like the kind that actually expects your full attention without checking your phone or multitasking). Or, in my case, your significant other calls on the phone at work and is talking with you while you’re still working (e-mail, spreadsheets, source code, or whatever).
- Your kids are asking to play outside, but you want to take a nap (or finish a game or read articles online).
- You have a chance to catch some classes – whether towards another degree or just to better yourself – but would rather goof off (that is, you don’t really have anything better to do, but just don’t feel like working).
- You are asked real, meaningful questions from a friend or family member. Not just a hard question like, “Why is that bird just laying there, Daddy?”, but the really hard questions like “Why are those people fighting on the news, Dad?”
A passage that I have thought a lot about is Colossians 4:5-6.
Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.
Colossians 4:5-6 NASB
Read through that in your own Bible (whether physical or electronic). While different translations render the last part of verse 5 differently, the footnote in the NASB suggests that this is literally “redeeming the time”. Here on earth, we can make use of our time, or we can squander it – like spending an annual bonus from work on an ice sculpture, and then just watching it melt.
For a better option than squandering the time, read Colossians 3:23-24. Few people have risen to true greatness (whether outwardly, or just in their own circle of influence) without having goals. Even if you don’t aspire to be president (a thankless job) or an astronaut (which is honorable, but there are only a few open positions worldwide), you can make it your goal each day to do your very best at whatever you are called to do. This is true no matter what your responsibilities might be for the day. I don’t know much about accounting, for instance, but I sure hope that the financial experts where I work come in each day and do a good job. In the same manner, my children don’t have paying jobs, but I want them to invest in learning so that they can reap the benefits later.
We all have goals, whether they be something as widely varied as running a marathon, winning at fantasy football, getting a promotion, or leveling up a character in an MMO. Achieving a goal probably isn’t something you have to learn how to do – just take something that you already aspire to (even if it doesn’t have much long-term value), and tackle a larger, wiser goal with the same effort. As the pastor at my church said in a recent sermon, sometimes this just means grinding away at something, chipping away towards a goal.
Along the same lines, read Ephesians 5:15-16. I remember when I first got out of college and got into a full-time job that paid more than any previous job. Not only that, but I could put in a full day’s work and then be home with no particular obligations (i.e., no more homework!). It was great, because I could now afford to do just about whatever I wanted in the evenings and weekends. There was cable TV, a decent PC for gaming, a grocery store full of cheap snacks, and lots of free time. That was fun for a while, but years later (and many pounds on the bathroom scale later), my diet of refined sugar caught up with me. Major life events like getting married and having kids were wake-up calls to shape up, but some of the habits I formed at that time (and their side effects) are nearly irreversible.
If you’re in the “newly-found freedom” phase of your life, I hope that you have it together better than I did. If there is any room for improvement, though, bookmark these passages from Colossians and Ephesians, and remember that you have the chance – and the choice – to “waste time”, or invest in it; not only for your future, but also for your present.
Redeem your time!
A version of this devotion originally appeared at fcccanton.com , as a Study Guide for the February 7, 2016 message, “The Dude’s Guide to Manhood”.