2019-12-18 Making The Best Use Of Time.

“Let those of us who are mature think this way,”
Philippians 3:15a

Year end is a good time to reflect on life, on the year past and on hopes and dreams for the years to come. Often, it ends up as some kind of New Year’s Resolution that almost always fail. Paul shows us the exercise that he goes through. Perhaps we can learn something from him.

First, Paul clarifies that everything he THOUGHT was important about religion, wasn’t. All the pedigrees and efforts he undertook, well, let’s let him tell what he thought of it.

Philippians 3:7-8a But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish,

And now he switches gears to what is actually important.

v. 8b-11 in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith – that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection of the dead.

I know, I know. That’s a tangled-up passage. Let’s assume that you have been already saved, ok? Whether you know it – or appreciate it – or not, you have been saved by faith. It was a gift from God. You are born-again in the Spirit as a result of God’s doing, not your own. Not everyone agrees with that. Most Christians would say that it is a combination of their faith AND good works that will render them peace with God. Yet, that is not what we see in using the full counsel of scripture.

This passage, for me, gives me pause to consider what is in my life that I might need to consider as rubbish. What would those things be? Anything that is apart from God in my life.

That doesn’t help, does it! Fair enough. Let’s consider one example that most of us could relate to: being a better spouse and parent. We’ve all heard the concept of Jesus as a servant leader, right? That’s the example he has given us in the washing of the feet (among many). With regard to our family, how do we do that? There is no other place to look besides scripture. Beyond that, there are lots of solid Christian teachers to show us how to put scripture into action. Let’s just take one verse as a starting point.

Ephesians 5:33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Now before you say that you are good in this regard, check the fruit. Is your marriage all that it’s cracked up to be? What might your spouse say to this? On a scale – an honest scale – of one to ten, how would you rate your marriage?

See where I’m going with this? Then, ask your partner what one thing you might do to improve that score. Don’t try to solve all your problems at once. Look for just one thing for now, and then do it. Trust me, if you both do this, your marriage will improve fast. Even if just one of you does it, things will get better.

Unfortunately, there are obstacles to all this. You probably won’t know how to do the things you need to do. You might need outside help. Maybe you can buy training materials and learn it at home. Maybe you’ll need professional advice. In any case, if something is going to change, something needs to change.

Of course, one obstacle will be time. But, can you really afford not to find a way to make time? Consider all the blessings God promises to those who observe and keep the Sabbath and rest. (Genesis 2:1-3, Exodus 20:8-11, Isaiah 58:13-14, Isaiah 56:2-8, Ezekiel 20:20, Mark 2:27-28, Isaiah 66:22-23, for example) Why in the world wouldn’t we want that?

Now, you might find that you really need God’s help – indeed you do. The world is very good at keeping us busy, far too busy. As is common with our checkbook, our reserves are mighty thin. In fact, some of us are constantly overdrawn in that account – and it shows! How many of us suffer with poor health because of stress? Be honest.

You might find this impossible, but it isn’t. Ask God to prioritize your time and allow him to do it. Be very careful to obey his promptings. He may lead you in ways you don’t expect. Keep in mind what started this whole process. We wanted to have a better relationship with our families, and time is the primary obstacle. Are you willing to let God lead you into a whole new lifestyle that includes rest and peace? Or do you want to hang on to the old and constantly scramble for time.

God has given us all the time we need.

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,
making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
Ephesians 5:15-17

Father, let all this resonate with your church. We are called to make disciples, right? I pray that this post today will really rattle some cages and cause people to take a hard look at their lives, how they value their families and how they spend their time. Stir their spirits, Lord. Amen.

Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers

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