We all know that time is a precious commodity. I have always been impressed with Jonathan Edwards’ fifth resolution: “Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.” Paul said something similar in Ephesians 5:15–16: “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, as Christians, we should ask ourselves, “How can I best use my time in this life to honor the Lord and advance His kingdom?”
Created to Work for His Glory
The opening chapters of Genesis teach us that God created us for a specific purpose, which includes work. God created us as His image bearers to spend our lives fulfilling what some theologians call the cultural mandate. In Genesis 1:28, God commands Adam and Eve, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” In Genesis 2:15, God specifically puts Adam into the garden of Eden in order “to work it and keep it.” Here we see both time and work wedded together. Adam was to spend his life and energy laboring in and protecting the garden.
Time and Vocation in a Fallen World
However, when Adam and Eve sinned, this honorable calling by God to work was placed under a curse. God says to Adam in Genesis 3:17–19, “Cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground.” This curse means that our work will be difficult. In a fallen world, what was intended to bring satisfaction to us and glory to God often results in sin and failure.
After my father was killed in a plane crash, my grandfather, a former Marine infantry officer and strong Christian, took it upon himself to teach me the discipline of hard work. As early as I can remember, I was picking up sticks in his yard and cleaning out storage closets at his office. Over time, I began to appreciate the value of hard work, but this was something I had to be taught. At first, I hated the very idea of “work.” This was my fallen aversion toward the very thing God had created me to do.
Unfortunately, because of the curse, sinful humanity is naturally inclined to misuse the precious time that God has given us. We are prone to either laziness or overwork. Sometimes it is both. We neglect the roles of father and mother that God has placed us in. We make poor decisions that cause us to lose precious time. We work for our own honor instead of God’s.