Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Commodity of Time & Our ‘Redeeming’ of It

“There is no more prevalent or pathetic illusion, no more delusive excuse and evasion, than [the] inability to find time to do real things in a strong way. For time is not found; it is made
–Hamilton Wright Mabie. (Italics added.)

And it is a simple, daily lesson for us. There stands above us a great thing we can never possess; a most significant truth... it commences and ends as time.

(As an aside, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt, our society misses the literary authenticity and boldness of an A.W. Tozer or a J. Oswald Sanders! We just don’t get this raw, eloquent, penetrating truth so much these days.)

One chapter that I recently read from Sanders’ book Problems of Christian Discipleship titled The Strategic Use of Time, sent bolts and shards of resonating, paralysing truth through me.

He presents Dr. John R. Mott’s definition of time. It is “duration turned to account.” Sanders further propounds Mott’s work, saying he “viewed time as our lives measured out to us for work, the measure of the capacity of our lives.”[1] (Italics added.) And this is our central purpose--work; not just vocational work, but work to improve life and to further our personal capacity and our capacity for others. This is about expanding the territories of our influence, not for selfish gain, but for God’s glory.

Following the Pauline concept of ‘redeeming the time’ (Ephesians 5:16), we must make the most of every opportunity to work hard and rest well.

Many people, including myself from time to time, have the golden predilection to complain about the lack of time, as if more of the stuff could be bought. It cannot, it can only be made.

C.S. Lewis once said, “The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.” It’s just that some seem to reach the end of their hours having achieved more and are surprisingly more relaxed and at ease than the others. Because their work rate is higher as a norm, they are not put out in consistently rising to significant challenges and tests that impinge on their time. They’re actually conditioned to it. Their ‘time fitness’ levels are in the top percentiles, and they please God as a result.

Utilising the time we have is also the key to growth and advancement in life. “Nature takes care that no [person] gets morally, intellectually, or spiritually rich by sitting still and letting things pour into [their] lap.”[2] The person who does not understand this basic concept of life, goes hungry and wonders why. But some will stubbornly refuse to acknowledge this truth; this is the proverbial fool. They would rather be wrong and say they’re right and suffer the consequences, complaining as they go! How ridiculous.

Sanders’ Threefold Prescription[3]

The ‘impelling motive,’ in Sanders’ vernacular, is to reach a lost world. How could we sanely waste time and then not fold in despairing sorrow before God?
Practically, we must firstly stops leaks with the use of our time. Some have diligently measured time in fifteen or even five minute lots throughout the 24-hour day; these people chide themselves if they miss and waste one of those segments of the day or night. These are at the upper echelon of those ‘redeeming time.’

Secondly, we must study our priorities; this speaks again of what Bill Hybels calls ‘selective sluggardness.’ This is when we miss part of our purpose in life because our priorities are out of whack. This hearkens us to stop doing ‘secondary things’--and we all have a tendency for them--that are unimportant in the eternal realm, yet win a guernsey to the neglect of things God wants us to do.

We must finally start planning our lives, being deliberate and intentional about achieving our purpose. This can only become plainly visible to us in reflection and prayer. This activity gives us tools in assisting the first two. Discerning a plan for the week or month ahead takes time in itself, but it’s time well invested.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
[1] J. Oswald Sanders, Problems of Christian Discipleship (London: China Inland Mission/Lutherworth Press, 1958), p. 119.
[2] Hamilton Wright Mabie, Fruits of the Spirit (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1917 (also Ayer Publishing, 1966)), p. 187.
[3] Sanders, Ibid, pp. 122-24.

1 comment:

Brian Persson said...


I read your Epitome post AFTER posting my comments (including my comment on time) on your Facebook site. Amazing. Interestingly, you and I read the same works Tozer, C.S. Lewis, just to name a couple. It's 2 PM Saturday here, 5 AM (while you sleep) there. Bless you man, bless you. Well written and, I agree!