Colossians 4:5 encourages us to make “the best use of the time” God has given us. Psalm 90:12 tells us to “number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Our grandparents told us to slow down and enjoy our lives. Their grandparents probably told them the same thing. Why do we spend so much time looking down the road, around the corner, or at our personal schedules for the week ahead? What if the best moments of life are found by enjoying whatever you are doing in the moment?
There are some interesting statistics available to us about the way we spend our time. According to one article, the average person, who lives to be seventy-five years old, will spend his or her time as follows:
— Twenty-six years will be spent sleeping and seven years lying awake, trying to fall asleep.
— Eleven years of our life will be spent in front of the television set.
— Eight years will be spent shopping.
— Three years will be spent doing laundry.
— 10.3 years will be spent at work.
— 4.4 years will be spent eating.
— Five years will pass as we surf the Internet.
— The average American will only spend seven years outdoors.
— Forty to sixty hours a year are spent in traffic; one in three teens sends more than 100 texts each day.
— Women spend 136 days getting ready to go somewhere while men need 46 days to do the same thing.
— We spend six minutes a day laughing; in the 1950s people laughed for eighteen minutes each day.
The survey estimates that most Americans have about six hours each day for discretionary use. How do you want to use that six hours today . . . that forty-two hours this week . . . that 1168 hours each year? Are you enjoying your life as much as you should? Are we accomplishing as much for God’s Kingdom as we could? Are we laughing often enough?
Ephesus was one of the fastest paced, most metropolitan cities in the first century culture. Located on the sea, the streets and harbor were constantly filled with travelers from around the world. Paul spent a great deal of time in the city and so did the Apostle John. The Christian church there became one of the most influential in the first century. And Paul admonished them saying, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15–17).
It is hard to know what Paul meant when he said “the days are evil,” but many theologians think he was speaking about the culture of the city. The Roman government, the Greek philosophies, and the Jewish legalism were all opposed to God’s plan and purpose. But Paul encouraged them to be wise and make the best use of their time.
I think Paul would say the same thing to each of us. We can know God’s will because we have the Bible and his Holy Spirit to guide us. If we understand and walk in God’s will we will be wise and make the best use of our time. And I imagine we will laugh a lot more, watch television a lot less, and enrich the twenty-four hours God has given us each day of our lives.
Jim and I lost a good friend last week. He was only a few years older than we are. We have spent a lot of time over the past few days asking ourselves and God if we are “making the best use of our time.” It is a good exercise.
The next time you are spending some of those minutes stuck in traffic, lying in bed waiting to fall asleep, or getting ready to go someplace—ask yourself and God if you are numbering your days according to his plan and his will for your life. God would enjoy giving you that answer. I’m sure about this: he wants me to laugh more than six minutes each day!
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