Watches and wallets. A couple of small items which reveal much about our hearts. Watches tell how we spend our time. Wallets open up to where we spend our money. Simply put, watches and wallets make clear what we treasure. If you look at your life, evaluate what you spend your time doing and what you are willing to spend your money on, chances are you will find out what you treasure. Oftentimes, these treasures do not last and do not satisfy. That is because we are pursuing the wrong things or we are pursuing the good, but not ultimate, things too much. With our watches and our wallets, we need to pursue the ultimate thing: a relationship with our triune God. While both categories of time and money are necessary discussion points, for the scope of this article we will zoom in to see how our pursuit of the triune God transforms our watches as Christians.
Time Not Our Own
God, first, transforms our watches by reminding us our time is not our own. Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein”. Everything and everyone belongs to God. This includes our time. Ephesians 5:15–16 shares, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” We are stewards of the time God has entrusted to us. Therefore, Psalm 90:12 reminds us, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom”. We gain a heart of wisdom when we learn to humbly number our days, and this only comes as God teaches us from His Word and as we learn we belong to God and so do our days.
Our Time Reveals Our Treasure
Understanding our time as a stewardship, we do not want to become idle (laziness) nor do we want to give priority to idols (busyness, not productivity). This means we want to spend time on what matters. We want to spend time on what will last. The reality is we have failed to do that and need to repent of that. We need to look at the One who made the best use of His time, never wasted it, and lived and died so we could be forgiven. Therefore, Jesus’ words seem pertinent here, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19–21). Jesus then goes on to counsel His followers to not spend their days worrying but to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). A faithful steward’s time will be spent by prioritizing the kingdom of God. By prioritizing the kingdom of God in daily life, the Christian’s treasure is revealed: the God of that kingdom. He is the only treasure which will satisfy. Psalm 90, quoted earlier, continues, “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days” (Psalm 90:14). We typically begin our time awake in the morning, and the way to find satisfaction is by meditation on and with the One who can satisfy in the morning is the One who steadfastly loves. The right understanding and application of this stewardship will lead to this great satisfaction.
Asking the Right Question
But, how does the transformation of our time actually apply to our daily lives? How does God’s ownership of our time impact how we go about our mundane days? While I cannot give you a set of particulars, for we have different callings and duties, I can share with you what I have found most productive (for more wisdom than what this article offers, see this PDF of a book by C.J. Mahaney). The most helpful nugget I’ve applied in stewarding my time is this: asking first, “Who am I?” before “What am I to do?”
We tend to view time as a to-do checklist in our narrow mindset of biblical productivity. While we cannot ignore the tasks which need to be done, we cannot begin there. Before we do, we must be. If we are going to prioritize our time correctly, we must know who we are as persons before we work on projects. It is about answering, “Who am I?” before “What am I to do?” (technically, the first question needing to be asked is “Whose am I?” but this has been answered already in that we, and our time, are not our own but belong to God). When we rightfully answer the first question, we will be headed down the right path with the second one.
To illustrate, if I understand my I am first and foremost a Christian, and that is my primary identity, then I will prioritize time in the Scriptures and prayer. But if I only consider Scripture reading and prayer as a part of a to-do list, I am not as likely to prioritize it to the place it needs to be. The same concept goes for the rest of life. Your faith is the central component of your time, not just one aspect. Search the Scriptures to see what it values as priorities. Family time should be prioritized over, but not to the neglect of, time spent with work. Yet, hobbies ought not to push out work or else the matter of the wallet will become a bigger issue. The point is how you answer the question, “Who am I?” will start to answer “What am I to do?” This is how God begins to transform our watches and our time.
Join the Conversation:
How does this view and question of how we spend our time specifically impact your daily life?