Thursday, July 21, 2011

Time as a resource

An evaluation of resources: I plan to discuss, in the next 4 or 5 posts, the concept of what some might call 'stewardship' but really it is just using well what each of us have at our disposal. Stewardship concepts that deal only with finances are sorely missing out on the true richness of the resources available to us. I will save environmental issues for another time, but 'stewardship' also refers to our care and management of creation, which is God's very first command to Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:28.

There are really only 3 resources available to us – Time, Energy and Money. I suppose that education or experience could be considered resources, but time and energy and sometimes money must be spent in the process of getting them so I won't consider them here. So, which is the most valuable of the three?

I believe that time is our most valuable resource and should be used with the most care simply because it is not renewable. When a day or even a minute is used, it can never be retrieved again. All of us only have a certain number of days and they seem to go faster as each year passes. I am not promoting a life of endless work nor of endless amusement, but we must carefully consider how we use our time. Some might promote a 'tithing' of our time so that we give an appropriate amount to God or the church, but this is a very weak and inconsistent view of stewardship. All of our time must belong to God or none of it is really His at all. God set aside one day in seven to rest and commands us to keep that day holy or 'set apart' as a special day for worship, but I do not believe that other days should be unholy or void of worship! All our days are a special gift from God. All days are ordained by Him to worship and live out our calling of service to Him and others.

So how should we divide our time? I believe that God has first called us to care for our parents, spouses, children and ourselves and this demands the greater part of our time and our financial resources. I Timothy 5:8 says that those who do not care for their families have “denied the faith”. Between 6 and 8 hours of every day is needed just for our personal rest. Of course all of us must eat and work so that we can buy food and provide a place to sleep every night. All this takes time – probably 70-80% of most days for the rest of our lives. And the time spent here is blessed by God as a part of His original plan for us. Even before the Fall, Adam and Eve were to care for the Garden and the animals in it as well as for each other while being fruitful, bearing and raising children to do the same after them. Work and providing for our household is the very first commandment in Scripture (Genesis 1:28) and implies a blessing from God. There is a warning, however, that “those who want to get rich fall into temptation” (I Tim. 6:9) and “If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.” (vs. 8) So caring for yourself and your family must be balanced with contentment in an attitude of humility, not a constant striving for more or better or bigger, which characterizes our materialistic society.