How to Spend Our Time Wisely: Four Guidelines to Live By
“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12, NIV)
Family life comes with an abundance of activity. From school and work to extracurriculars of every variety, our schedules can become jam-packed to the point where we forget the last time the whole family enjoyed a day off.
But here’s the thing. Time is the great equalizer. No matter who you are, what talents or intelligence you’re given, how much money you have or where you live, every single person on this earth is given the same 24 hours in a day. The value of our lives is largely determined by how we spend those 24 hours, or, where our priorities lie.
Are we being wise stewards of the days—the breaths—God gives us?
Or are we allowing activity to rule over us?
Here are four biblical principles to consider as we determine how to spend our time.
1. People matter. Relationships are important to God. The Lord exists in three persons—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—which means He’s in relationship with Himself. And we were made in His image; therefore, being in relationships with other people is part of His design for us. It’s one of His priorities for us in this life.
Yet can you guess what’s one of the biggest obstacles to building strong relationships?
It makes us worn out, cranky and even neglectful of the people we love best. Which makes it difficult to follow through on commands like this one:
“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (Colossians 3:12–13, NLT)
What prevents you from granting mercy, kindness, patience and forgiveness to others? What steps can you take today to begin demonstrating those godly virtues to the people around you—your families, friends, co-workers and neighbors?
2. Make room for interruptions. It’s good to be intentional with our time. But sometimes I think we become so “intentional” that we drown out the voice of God and His opinion of how we ought to spend our days. In which case, good planning gives way to control freak tendencies. I know this because I’ve been there.
How many times have you been interrupted with a phone call from somebody you “didn’t have time” to talk to? Or requests to meet for lunch or volunteer at school or attend yet another meeting at the office that conflicted with your plans?
How many times did you take the call or attend the lunch anyway—and discover a great blessing that only God could have designed?
“We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” (Proverbs 16:9, NLT)
Sometimes when we stick with our own agenda, we miss out on what God has for us. Let’s be open to his “interruptions,” which to God are truly just part of the original plan.
3. Quit waiting around for the next thing. What big development are you wishing for right now? Maybe you’re waiting for your finances to settle. Or for God to grant you another child. Or maybe, like me, you’ve been living in your “starter home” for 15 years and you’re desperate for the next house—more space, more peace, more sunshine.
At some point, we need to stop wishing for life to start by realizing we’re already living it.
When we shift gears from wishing for what we don’t have, and focus instead on what we do have, God has a way of opening our eyes to the blessings standing right in front of us. Try it. Look around you. At your children, your spouse, your home, your Heavenly Father. Make a list of what you’re grateful for. I’m guessing it’s not that hard to do.
The trouble is that grumbling and discontentment blind us to those blessings. So let’s pray and fight for contentment. Then instead of waiting on peace or fulfillment to finally arrive with that “next thing,” we might discover we already own it.
“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (Isaiah 26:3)
4. Live today in light of eternity. The time we spend here on Earth is so short compared to life in heaven. James 4:14 says, “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” So what is our goal? What should the Christian aim to do with her time?
Will all these hours we spent on our phones matter in the end?
Will all this time we spent worrying get us any closer to heaven?
Will all the books we read, the movies we watched, the clothes we shopped for, the job titles we claimed—what will they amount to in the long run?
When we lift our eyes to the hills (Psalm 121), we’ll develop a perspective of our earthly lives that is not defined by the activities and stresses set before us. Perhaps is really is as simple as looking to the heavens and asking God what He wants from us—then believing He knows best.
“He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121:3–4)
Talk about a jam-packed calendar. God stays awake all day and night—why? To ensure we do not fail.
That’s His job.
So let’s all rest in His sovereign embrace, amen? That’s the very best way for the Christian to spend a day—no matter what circumstances surround us.
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