John Wesley once wrote, “Not, how much of my money will I give to God, but, how much of God’s money will I keep for myself?” I remember reading this quote hanging on a banner at a Missions’ conference at the church I used to attend. It was a pivotal moment for me as I had never really thought of money from that perspective. ALL my money was God’s and it was Him who allowed ME to use some of it…not the other way around. It was a fundamental shift in my thinking at the time.
For a while now I have been led toward another shift in my thinking. What if I rework the question to sound something like this? “Not, how much of my time will I give to God, but, how much of God’s time will I use for myself?”
We travel through our days following our day planners, our obligations, our whims, and our circumstances. We serve the clock, we bow down to the task master of time–punching in and punching out with precision. Even if our personalities aren’t as regimented as some, we are still led in continuous procession by the winds of circumstance and opportunity.
For those of us who follow Christ, we tell ourselves that we live in submission to His authority, in theory at least. Oh indeed we may spend time in prayer and study, and may even ask Him to manage our day. We acknowledge His authority intellectually, but then so often follow that up by quickly jumping on the treadmill of our own agenda again.
But how often do I REALLY view all of my time as His? How often do I present my plans at His feet as tentative? How often do I submit all my plans to the Lord, and actually take the time to seek Him for direction?
Of course, part of the problem is that we like to segment our time. Our time with God is a segment, our chores at home another, our work another, our family another, our social life, our hobbies etc. etc. We think that by chopping it up we can control it, and if we can control it, we can accomplish it, and if we can accomplish it we have had a successful day.
I am not sure we have the right idea. Living a life in Christ should look different than living a life outside of Him. Merely adding a “Christ” segment to our pre-existing, fine-tuned agenda, does not a follower make. It just requires more juggling.
His first followers, His disciples, left their nets and followed Him. They left the boat and their father and followed Him. (Matt. 4:20,22) They walked away from livings, homes, plans, schedules, family, and friends…and followed Him.
Now of course, the Lord is not asking us all to do this, in fact we do have responsibilities to fulfill that the Bible is very clear about. (2 Thess. 3:10, Eph. 4:28, 1 Thess. 4:11-12, 1 Timothy 5:8, 14) But let us not assume anything. Let us question ourselves, have we ever really asked Him what we are to do? And are we willing to really listen? Are we so busy following our own leading that we have left no room for His Spirit? What if in our attempt to “accomplish” this life we totally miss “truly living” this life? What if blindly following our own will is limiting our usefulness in the kingdom? When Jesus said to each of us, “follow Me”, we must ask ourselves, did we even get off the sofa?
These are tough questions. I have been wrestling with them for some time, and there is no easy answer. But today, I ask you, does not a Master have all authority over His servant’s time? Does a good servant choose what he or she is to do?
James 4 warns us, “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” (13-17)
We plan and scheme and mark our calendars with little thought of our Master’s authority over us. We forget that it is “in Him we live and move and have our being” (Act 17:28a) We forget that “the Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand.” (John 3:35). We gloss over the fact that “God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name.” (Phil. 2:9) And we give lip service to the truth that He is “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” (Eph. 1:21)
So let us today remember that He is the Author of our lives, our time, and our resources. Let us confess to Him that we too often place the authority over our days squarely on our own shoulders and not on His. Let us seek Him, cling to Him, and abide in Him, so that when His Spirit asks us to follow we don’t have to squeeze Him in sometime next week. Let us cry out with the Psalmist, “What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord, I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all His people.” (116:12-14)
Today, if Christ is our Master, let us give Him back His time.