In this series on giving, we’ve spent the first two Sundays in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 talking about giving our money. But this Sunday we’ll turn to consider what it means to give an even more precious resource: our time. In some ways, writing a check or contributing financially can be the easiest, simplest way to manage an obligation without actually having to get involved. But it is much, much harder to give away time- because of course time is your life itself.
In this passage from Ephesians 5, Paul exhorts his friends to “make the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (5:15). On the one hand, the Bible has an incredibly realistic perspective on time: life is short, our days are numbered, and therefore be very careful in how you live. As Annie Dillard wrote, “How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives.” My friend Justin calls time “the currency of our purpose.” Everything we deeply care about we must give our time to, and yet we all tend to give so much time to things we hardly care about at all. The Bible calls us to remember that time is a gift and to steward it wisely for the things that matters most- and for Christians, that means love of God and neighbor. We can all think through how we use our time and order our habits with much greater intentionality and purpose.
But at the same time, the Bible also reminds us that how we use our time does not save us. This same passage calls us to “always give thanks to God the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ” (15:20). The one outside of time willingly entered into time to save us from the destruction that time wages on us all. We have a promise that though this is the only life we have, through Jesus this life can be extended into eternal resurrection in a new creation. That is an amazing hope, one that brings consolation and comfort for the lives we live in this broken, time-bound creation.
In preparation for worship this week, I encourage you to spend some time reading and meditating on Psalm 90 and what it says to us about our limitations as creatures within time, and how we can live wisely within those limitations.
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Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.