A few days ago, I got an email from Walgreens with an offer on my rewards account for $1 off deodorant (I should mention at this point that I am notoriously cheap.) So I went to Walgreens and spent 30 minutes looking for the cheapest stick of deodorant they had, but as I was checking out, the register wasn’t taking $1 off. I made the poor employee wait another 10 minutes as I tried to find the email to figure out what was going on until I finally gave up and left Walgreens without my discount deodorant.
When I got back in my minivan, I realized that my time is worth more than that, worth more than the dollar I was trying to save, worth more than a hundred dollars or even the $750 million dollar lottery jackpot. My time has infinite value because it is a gift from God.
So driving around town to save a buck is one silly example of wasting time, but maybe your time is stolen with what was supposed to be a quick check of Facebook, finding a recipe for tonight on Pinterest, or a fast scan of the headlines that turns into an hour long trip down the internet worm hole as you search for the difference between two-toed sloths and three-toed sloths. (To save you from that particular wormhole, besides the fact that one has two toes on its forelimbs and the other has three, they have different numbers of vertebrae–three-toeds have nine; two-toeds have six or seven. You’re welcome.)
Now I’m not saying that’s always a bad thing to be leisurely or to spend wisely, but could it be distracting you just enough to not fully use your “god-given talent and ability” like it did when I used that time at Walgreens to save a $1 when I could’ve been at home with my wife and kids?
Your time is an investment. Jesus told a story of investors that I think has value for this conversation.
14-18 “God’s kingdom is like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master’s money.
19-21 “After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’
22-23 “The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his master’s investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’
24-25 “The servant given one thousand said, ‘Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.’
26-27 “The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.
28-30 “‘Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.’
MATTHEW 25 – The Message
So truly following God takes focus, faith, and fearlessness.
Today maybe your first step is, like my first step, deleting an app off your phone that steals your time. Maybe it’s looking at your calendar to be sure your priorities are where they need to be. Maybe it’s scheduling a daily prayer time, especially when life is crazy–like Martin Luther said, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”
It’s as if you are a sinking ship, and unless you throw everything that isn’t necessary overboard right now, all will be lost. And the things that you see floating away, you’ll probably find you don’t really miss.
As Hebrews 12 says, “let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Remember to run with focus, faith, and fearlessness.