FIRST-PERSON: The battle for your time

EL CAJON, Calif. (BP) -- In the early days of another year, it is important to consider how we use the time God gives us, since the hours, days and months will quickly pass away.

Satan will use any distraction possible to influence how we spend the precious moments God gives to us each day. So, as we seek victory in spiritual warfare, we must be vigilant against time bandits -- those activities and influences that rob us of the moments and minutes that fly past us in swift succession.

Ephesians 5:15-16 (CSB) says: "Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk -- not as unwise people but as wise -- making the most of the time, because the days are evil."

Time is the zone in which we accomplish God's will for us. But if we're not interested in accomplishing God's will, time has less value and indeed can yield evil.

In that sense, Christians live in a different time zone than anyone else. Jesus chose to live a schedule predetermined by His Father. It was important for Him to stay on task. He was born on schedule, He was baptized by John on schedule, He entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, He died and He rose -- right on schedule. Ten times in John's Gospel, Jesus said things like, "My hour is not yet come" or "The hour is here."

What time says about us

Our culture has a million ways of distracting itself from the implications of its own rejection of spiritual values. Society says there is no God, no Creator, no ultimate meaning, no essential values. Most people cannot cope with that level of emptiness, so they need lots of distractions and entertainment. I'm not saying all entertainment is bad. I'm saying our world is drowning in entertainment of all kinds because it needs to be distracted from the despair of a life without God.

If our lives are meaningless, our time is purposeless. If our lives have purpose, our time is meaningful. As Christians, there's a preordained agenda for us, and each day is a new opportunity for "making the most of the time" to serve our Lord.

How to capitalize on time

First, give God the best part of your day. If one day passes the next without your prayer time or Bible study time, it's a warning. On a notepad or the back of an envelope, take a moment to sketch out your schedule for today. How can you adjust your hours to include time for the Lord?

Second, rein in your screen time. For the next few days, look at yourself as though an efficiency expert were watching you. Perhaps, for example, you legitimately sit at your computer to check your email or research a project. But how likely are you to become distracted and end up surfing the Internet for a wasted hour?

Third, do the most important things. Perhaps you're too busy at church or too involved in some ministry. Perhaps you need to say "no" to something so you can regain time for your family or for the well-being of your own soul. If we aren't careful, we'll end up living according to somebody else's schedule instead of the one God ordains for us.

Finally, learn the value of remnants. Every day we have shards of time that shouldn't be thrown away -- five minutes here, 10 minutes there. Good stewards know the value of those moments -- for reading, reviewing a memory verse or meditating on a Bible passage. Learn to use the leftover bits of your hours.

Are you winning or losing the battle for your time? If the enemy controls your time, God gets little of you. But if God controls your time, Satan will have a hard time infiltrating your days. Pay careful attention to make the most of your time because, otherwise, "the days are evil."

David Jeremiah is pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, Calif., and founder and host of "Turning Point for God." For more information on Turning Point, visit www.DavidJeremiah.org. This column has been approved by Turning Point for redistribution in Baptist state newspapers; for other reprint requests, contact Myrna Davis at mdavis@tursningpointonline.org.
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