Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. ESV Colossians 4:5
Jenny, one of our regular blog readers, raised the concept of “me time.” As Christians our lives are to be centered on bringing honor to the name of God in all that we do. (I Cor. 10:31; Col. 3:17, etc.) Our culture inundates us with the idea that our first need is to care for ourselves. Yes, our culture says, God is important, but only as he or she meets our need for whatever spiritual vacuum we have that needs filling. From a cultural standpoint the idea of spirituality is just another part caring for myself first. Culturally, we are challenged every day to see life in terms of self-fulfillment—my needs, my space, my time, my life and, sadly, my god, whomever I deem her or him to be.
As Paul teaches in I Corinthians 6, we are not our own, we have been bought with a price. It is instructive to note that the context of this teaching that we are not our own is a discussion of sexual conduct. What could be more intimate and personal than your sexual life? Yet Paul says that even in this area we are not our own. We are not free to choose how to behave sexually, based upon our assessments of our needs. And, not surprisingly, the area of sexuality is one in which our culture openly despises biblical truth. Sex is for you, in any way that you wish to have it. You have the right to do with your body whatever you want. Clearly, by asserting the value of self-fulfillment regarding sexual behavior, the culture has no regard to a biblical view of sexuality.
If Paul says that you are not your own in the intimate area of sexuality, certainly this same principle applies to the rest of your life. In acknowledging the Lordship of Christ over your life, you will actually enjoy and benefit from life than if you followed the calling of the culture for self-fulfillment. In other words pursuing what I want apart from God is never a good or healthy practice.
From another perspective, let’s say that you live on a farm far away from the urban sprawl. How helpful would self-fulfillment be as a guide for living on a farm? Saying that you would rather not go out and prepare the fields for harvest so you could catch up on the latest status updates of your Facebook friends would seem a little bit ridiculous. Or, waiting to milk the cows until tomorrow so you can play Angry Birds or check out a friend’s latest blog entry or tweet —because I just need time for myself—is equally ridiculous. Instead, as a Christian you should be filled with gratitude that there are fields to harvest and cows to milk.
Okay, so you don’t live on a farm. But you do live where God has purposed for you to live (Acts 17:26). Your time is not your own, but purchased by God with the blood of Christ. God wants you to make the best use of your time or, as the NIV translation says, to make the most of every opportunity.
To specifically address Jenny’s comment, your children are young for an amazingly short time. There are opportunities to speak of God even when changing diapers. Changing a diaper means that God has given you a precious child! You can’t separate the chore of dirty diapers from the blessing of your child. This is part of who he is and what it means to have him. If there were no diapers to change there would be no child. So, even changing diapers is an opportunity to thank God for his faithfulness to you. Here is a challenge: every time you change a diaper, tell your child how thankful you are for him and thank God for him. Grumpy diaper changing leads to a grumpy life.
With Facebook and social media, you are presented with an opportunity to learn about others and to influence those outside the faith, at least in some small way. This can be a good thing. However, there is the temptation to sit and be caught up for hours following the endless rabbit trails of friends, groups to join, causes to become a fan of, and games to play. You may call this “your time.” But as we have seen, your time is not your own. To improve your time management, perhaps you need to set a limit for the time you will spend on Facebook. And while that may be needed for some, an even better option is to turn away from our culture’s calling for self-fulfillment. God provides you each day with the opportunity to die to yourself and live for him. Facebook ought to be just something that you do as a fun diversion when you have the time to squeeze it in. Things like serving your family, studying God’s word, prayer, remembering the many ways God has blessed you, reaching out to people in your church and community, etc., should make Facebook time hard to find. It should be hard to find because your life is crowded with the joy of living life for God’s glory. It is not your time, your space, your life – it is God’s.