The Rev. Dr. Robert S. Langworthy, preaching
November 10, 2019
A professor asked his class: “If you had $86,400, and someone stole $10 of it, would you spend the $86,390 you still had to try to get the $10 back? Or would you just let it go?” The students all said they’d let it go.
The professor then said: “You have 86,400 seconds every day, and that treasure of time is more valuable than money. For you can always make more money; but, once a second passes, you can never get it back. When someone upsets us, on average it happens in about 10 seconds. So, why throw away the day’s remaining 86,390 seconds worrying about it or resenting it? Wouldn’t it be wiser to let it go and not waste any more of your treasure of moments?”
In today’s scripture, God tells us to do 7 things. The last 5 are: act wisely, discern God’s will, avoid heavy drinking, be filled with the Spirit and sing out your faith.
Those five commandments, however, can only be fulfilled by fulfilling the first two commandments: Be careful how you live and make the most of your time.
The time we have is our life, and to manage our time is to manage ourself and our life. We must, for instance, manage our time to obtain wisdom, understand God’s will, let the Spirit fill us and sing forth our faith.
If we hold on to 10 seconds of rudeness, we might lose 86,390 other seconds that could’ve been used more profitably. And some of those seconds we’d lose might well be seconds of greater value than most. After all, not all moments are of equal value. Some are charged with greater opportunity and promise than others.
The Greek language, unlike English, has two words for time: chronos and kairos. This scripture here tells us to make the most of our kairos moments. A chronos moment is a click of a clock. A kairos moment is an especially opportune moment for the accomplishment of an important goal. In biblical use, each kairos moment is a point in time determined by God to be decisive in the fulfillment of one of His great purposes, a time that is the time to do or experience something special. It is an appointed time, an anointed time, a graced time. Christ came at the kairos moment. A man in love waits for the kairos moment to pop the question; parents, for the kairos moment to ease up restrictions on their children; and believers, for the kairos moment to share with a skeptical friend the good news of God’s love in Christ.
Of course, to take advantage of the kairos moments, we typically have to have made good use of our chronos moments beforehand. For example, to share the good news with that friend at the right time, we almost always have to have put in the chronos time praying, reflecting on scripture, and listening to our friend. Putting in the chronos time enables us to make the most of our kairos time.
Taking responsibility to use our chronos moments to be ready for our kairos moments keeps us from the mistake of thinking that time management is beating the clock and getting a lot done in little time. In truth time management is primarily bearing priorities in mind, and making our regular moments serve our special ones. It is letting go of some time expenditures in order to do justice to each time that is the time to give our focus to what’s most important.
When author Greg Spencer’s daughters were young, he often bemoaned how little time he had anymore for writing. One friend said, “Your girls will only be little once. Don’t worry so much about being productive now.” Another friend told him his daughters were his “publications”. Those comments gave him a different perspective on time. He started to look at each moment to see if it were the opportune time to do right by his highest priorities.
I think of another father of two little girls who realized he hadn’t been spending as much time with them as he should. He apologized to them, but then added, “You know, however, that the quantity of time we spend together isn’t as important as the quality of time.” Kristen, 6, and Madison, 4, didn’t quite understand. He tried again: “Quantity means how much time we spend together, and quality means how good the time is. Which would you rather have?” Not missing a beat, Kristen replied. “Quality time. And lots of it.”
What is true of our relations with other human beings is also true of our relationship with the divine being. If we want to be close to God, if we want to know His will and be full of His Spirit, we need to have quality time with Him and lots of it. We need to keep to our daily devotions, our weekly worship at church, and our regular periods of serving God’s agendas of justice and compassion. That requires our saying No to giving so much time and energy to lesser matters, and devoting a good portion of our best time and energy to deepening our connection with Him.
How we handle our money affects our heart-depth of connection with God. Jesus said, “Where our treasure is, there also our heart will be.” In other words, our hearts follow where our money goes.
To connect most deeply with God we don’t have to give away all our money, but there is a certain amount that each of us has to give to do that job. How do we learn what that amount is? Mostly, by praying!
If we mean to draw near to the Lord and closely follow His lead about any important concern such as our pledge in financial support of His ministries through a particular church, we need to put in quality prayer time with God and lots of it, that we might, as this scripture says, “understand what the will of God is” for us.
Lots of time, of course, doesn’t mean unlimited time. But it may mean giving up some time that is being used in less significant pursuits in order to do justice to a pursuit of higher value.
Did you know that the average American spends 12 hours a week on social media and 32 hours a week watching TV? I’ll bet some of us could take some of such time and apply it to prayer, with no real sense of loss and, more importantly, with a real sense of gain in understanding God’s will and experiencing God’s Spirit.
Each of us has the stewardship responsibility of disciplining the 86,400 seconds we have each day. The management of our time is the management of our life. If we manage ourselves for God, we will put ourselves in a position where God will manage us – and lead us into greater happiness and fulfillment. Let us pray.