The fact that western society has an abundance of time-wasting devices ought to alarm us. Perhaps few facts about modern society bring any greater indictment than this. In an age awash with human need and possibilities for good, people are frantically searching for the next best way to waste their time.
Millions of immigrants and refugees need westerners to minister to them. Millions of Americans have never had anyone take the time to share the Gospel with them. There are millions of Americans who need someone to help them overcome illiteracy or to learn English as their second language. There are millions of single parents as well as aging seniors who need someone to offer them practical assistance. There are tens of thousands of charitable organizations that would gladly put volunteers to work for worthy causes, if only they had some. Yet with such enormous needs permeating society, where are the people?
This blog is not written to condemn people who have large screen TVs or who enjoy down time at the end of a long day at work. However, I am concerned about the obsession North Americans have with wasting their time. It used to be that Americans could squander forty hours or more each week mindlessly sitting in front of one sitcom after another on their TV. Today, social media is the black hole of people’s time. After hours of browsing sites and liking total stranger’s posts, we realize the day is gone and we have accomplished absolutely nothing productive. This is not to say that leisure activities are sinful, for they are not. But an obsession or preoccupation with them is.
The apostle Paul accomplished more with his life than most mortals. He understood the value of his time and what God could accomplish with it. He urged people, therefore, to consider “redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:17). Paul recognized that the days in which he lived were evil. Many people desperately needed to hear the good new of Christ. Many had been victimized by sin and needed rescuing. In such times, Paul could not imagine wasting a perfectly good life.
Paul gave the secret to making the most of our time. He said, “Do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:17). God knows how to maximize each day of our life. If we will seek Him (preferably at the beginning of our day rather than at the end), He can guide us to the most productive, fruitful life possible.
I constantly hear people tell me what they would like to do with their life if only they had the time. Many have a classic book they would like to read. Some want to take classes or earn a degree. Others have projects around the house crying out for their attention. Many have friends and even family members who need attention. We all could give more focus to prayer, Bible study, and exercise. Yet year after year goes by and we neglect these important activities while at the same time we eagerly download the latest app for our favorite game.
I believe our obsession with wasting time is a reflection of our disorientation to God and His will. If we truly knew God’s heart and will, we could not stand to see our time wasted. If we had experienced the enormous amount of good that God could accomplish with just one hour of our time, we would be broken hearted to waste another hour of it frivolously. The reason we waste our time so casually is because we are unconcerned with God’s will for our life. Be certain of this: if God were determining how you spent your day, He would encourage you to turn off your TV and go next door to meet your neighbor. He would lead you to exit your social media app and pick up your Bible. He would suggest that watching one football game on Saturday was sufficient, and steer you toward a treadmill. The fact we can mindlessly waste so many hours of our life provides compelling evidence that Christ is not the one directing our steps.
Why is it that some people accomplish enormous amounts and others so little? Why is it that some people are able to read the latest books in their field and others are not? Why do some people manage to exercise regularly while others do not? Why are some people always thoroughly prepared while others are not? Why do some people impact so many lives for good while others do not? The answer is not complicated! Some people make the most of their time and others do not.
I believe the reason some people waste so much time is because they are not driven by a higher purpose. If they turned off their TV or closed their laptop they wouldn’t know what to do. So they squander yet another evening mindlessly staring at an electronic screen.
You cannot read your Bible for long before you feel compelled to take action. You cannot watch the news for long before you realize that you need to do something to make the world a better place. So take some time this week to seek God’s will. Could it be that if you redeemed just four hours a week out of time you previously wasted, you could finish reading that book, or volunteer for a worthy cause, or reach out to someone in need? Why don’t you try it and see? Once you see what God can do with just one hour of your day fully surrendered to Him, you’ll never want to waste another minute of your life!