I'd Like to Speak to the Manager - Part 2
Series: My Preaching Bucket List
April 22, 2018
Let’s begin today’s message with a pop quiz. It has only one question. The answer is either True or False (50/50 chance!). Do not answer out loud. Here it is…
Time has no beginning. True or False
The answer is… False!
You are probably aware I’m not a rocket scientist or anything, so I’ll defer to one of the smartest fellows ever to live, Stephen Hawking, on this. He once gave a lecture on the beginning of time and finished it saying…
“The conclusion of this lecture is that the universe has not existed forever. Rather, the universe, and time itself, had a beginning in the Big Bang…”
Now, let me take a minute before going and address some of you smarty pants. Way back I preached on truth and talked about how all truth finds its source in Jesus. I gave a basic example of truth: 2+2 always equals 4.
Two people came up to me afterwards and said 2+2 does not always equal 4 in some kinds of math. I was saying that if you have two rocks and you add two more rocks to them, you have four rocks. That’s true on the earth, on the moon, on Jupiter, all the planets in the Alpha Centauri system, or on Krypton, every single time no matter what. Period.
There are some smarty pants here right now getting ready to come up afterwards and say imaginary time has always existed. Since I’m so busy after the service, I’ll let you talk to my imaginary assistant pastor.
Back to Hawking…
“…the universe has not existed forever. Rather, the universe, and time itself, had a beginning in the Big Bang…”
This is no way contracts the Bible. It does in fact support Genesis 1. God made everything out of nothing. He willed the universe into being, and “BANG!” It came into being.
The universe is made up of space, matter, and time. So time began when God created all there is. If God made time, and he sustains it, then He owns it.
This is especially true for the Christian because we belong to him, body, soul, and spirit. God has put time into our care which makes us managers, stewards of it.
If somebody came to us with a time problem and asked to speak to the manager, who’d show up? We would.
In a Psalm 90, a psalm called the prayer of Moses, the writer, whether it was Moses or not we don’t know, contrasted God’s eternal nature where a thousand days is nothing with the brevity of human life where we are lucky to live 70 years, 80 at best. In light of that he prayed…
Psalm 90:12 (ESV) — 12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Numbering our days is realizing we only have so many and making the best of each one.
I can’t think of anything that better encapsulates the idea of stewarding or managing our time than that. Note good stewardship, good management, of time requires wisdom.
Who is our great example of stewardship? Joseph.
In Acts 7, one of the first deacons and the first martyr, Stephen, mentioned Joseph in his stirring speech…
Acts 7:9–10 (ESV) — 9 “And the patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him 10 and rescued him out of all his afflictions and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him ruler over Egypt and over all his household.
Wisdom and stewardship just go together. That goes for managing our bodies (which we talked about last week) and certainly managing our time.
What is the one thing we complain the most about not having enough of? Time. And what do we spend a lot of time doing?
Complaining for sure, but what about playing solitaire or Candy Crush? Scrolling through Facebook. Playing Fortnite. Watching The Bachelor. I’m meddling again.
In truth, we all fail miserably at numbering our days and using them wisely.
One fellow said “Time is significant because it is so rare. It is completely irretrievable. You can never repeat or relive it. There is no such thing as a literal instant replay. That appears only on film. It travels alongside us every day, yet it has eternity wrapped up in it.”
Ben Franklin said of time, ‘…that is the stuff life is made of.” And the philosopher William James once said, ‘The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.’”
Spending our lives, our time, for something that will outlast it. Now that connects for us Christians, doesn’t it? We know that what happens in the here and now impacts what happens in the hereafter. What we do now impacts eternity.
If anybody had the idea of stewarding time down it was Paul. That’s the same guy who taught us about stewarding our bodies last week. After meeting Jesus one day on his way to Damascus, he tirelessly set out to win a lost world with the good news of the gospel.
In his letter to the Christians at the ancient city of Ephesus, he spent three chapters extolling the wonders of who we are and what we have in Christ. He then spent the remaining chapters telling them - and us - how we should live in light of all that.
Chapter 5 is of particular importance for us this morning…
Ephesians 5:1–16 (ESV) — 1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Now that we have things in context we can get to our main text where Paul teaches us three things about stewarding time…
15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
I actually have four daughters, three human ones plus a furry one named Maple. There are a lot of great things about having a dog, but one bad thing is they have to eat, and then after that, they have to take care of their business.
When we lived in Nashville I hated that all the more because it meant taking her for a walk every day… in the rain, in the snow, in the heat… and it meant performing the humiliating task of bagging what she left behind.
When we moved to PV we were blessed to have a fenced-in backyard! Now I just let her out and I’m good. Now I should still bag her business, but I don’t always. Which means that when I go in our backyard I’ve got to look carefully how I walk. Not doing so would be very unwise.
That is the worst and possibly most inappropriate illustration ever given by a pastor, but you have to admit it connects with our text.
Paul teaches us that stewarding time means looking carefully how we walk, being wise about how we live our lives. The opposite of that is not paying attention at all, not caring how we live, and that is foolishness.
“Making the best use of time” is translated “redeeming the time” in the KJV. That’s because the Greek word used here has to do with paying a ransom or buying back. It’s the same word used by Paul in describing what Jesus did for us…
Galatians 3:13 (ESV) — 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—
To pay a ransom, to buy back, requires sacrifice. It costs something. So Paul also teaches us that stewarding time means intentionally giving up some things and taking on other things. That it isn’t easy or cheap.
Why do we have to be so intentional about time? Why do we have to work so hard to buy it back? Who or what are we redeeming it from?
Look back at verse 16…
“making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
Paul teaches us that stewarding time means recognizing we live in an environment set up to make us fail.
This evil environment is around us and in us. Around us is the world.
In Scripture, the term “world” can mean the sum total of all persons living on the earth, as in John 3:16, but it can also refer “The world order which is alienated from God, in rebellion against him, and condemned by nature and by godless deeds. It is “this world” (Jn 8:23; 12:25; 1 Cor 3:19) as opposed to “that which is to come”; “this world” in contrast with “the other, or heavenly world.”
Now over this world is a ruler, and it’s not who think it is…
2 Corinthians 4:3–4 (ESV) — 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
The god (little “g”) of this world is temporarily the devil. He uses all his influence and power to keep us from being good stewards of time. And if that isn’t bad enough, we have within us forces at work to do the same…
Romans 8:5–8 (ESV) — 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
The flesh is the part of us that responds to the world and the devil.
Put all this together and you understand why Paul called us to walk carefully and redeem the time, why Paul said these days are evil.
So good stewards of time are wise in that they watch carefully how they walk, how they live their lives, understanding all time spent in this life impacts the next. They also realize to be good stewards of time they must be intentional, giving up some things and taking on others. And they recognize the dangers around us and in us making the task all that much harder.
If you remember, stewards, managers, don’t own what they manage or oversee, which means they must wisely work to use the resources in their care the way the one who owns them would.
Time belongs to God but is given us to manage. We are called to spend time the way God would. But how do we know what that looks like?
We need only look to Jesus who is God in the flesh. How did Jesus spend his time? The Gospels give us a really good account of that. If you read them you’ll discover Jesus spent time…
Ministering. He used his power and influence to meet needs. He fed people. He healed people. He met people where they were and helped them understand the good news of the kingdom.
We’ll talk more about this when we learn about being stewards of God’s grace gifts, but know that time spent ministering to people is time wisely spent.
Discipling. When Jesus wasn’t ministering to the masses he was discipling the disciples. He invested himself in others. He spent time teaching them, getting to know them, loving them, and leading them. As Christians, we should factor investing ourselves in others into our schedules.
Praying. I challenge you to read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and as you do mark every time Jesus prays. He prayed in the open and in private. He prayed when he got up, and he prayed late into the night before he went to bed. Sometimes he prayed all night long. He prayed when he ate and when he ministered and when he discipled. A good steward of God’s time will spend a great deal of it praying.
This last one may surprise you. Especially these days when we are so busy, busy, busy with crazy schedules and think it’s spiritual to work ourselves to the bone.
Resting. Jesus knew when to minister and disciple, but he also knew when it was time to get away and rest. This is the idea of the Sabbath, something lost on us Western Christians.
I’d love to tell you I’ve got this time management thing down, but I don’t. It is so hard. When I think about all the time I’ve wasted over the years it kills me. But once again we humbly rejoice that God’s grace applies here too.
Conclusion: I wish we could dig deeper, but we need to move on. NT Wright writes…
In particular, Christians are to see every day, every hour, every minute, as an opportunity for serving the Lord, for understanding what his will is and getting on and doing it. [This] can, of course, lead people to an obsessive lifestyle, calculating and counting every minute and giving oneself and everyone else no peace. If that’s a particular danger for you, then take note and learn how to relax, how to rest, how to let go of your over-organized life and allow God to bathe you in his peace…
… for many people the danger is on the other side: of not taking each day and hour as a gift from God, to be used for his glory, but instead letting them wash over and pass by, like water down a river, never used, never to return. For such people, [this] is another wake-up call: these are evil times we live in, and you as a child of light have a chance to do something about it. Take that chance with both hands.
Repeat after me:
My time belongs to God. That makes me a steward of every minute of every day. Therefore I must spend time wisely, using it the way God would.
I’ll close with one more pop quiz. Just one TF question.
Time will never end. True or False
False. Time as we know it will end one day and then a new existence begins in the new heavens and earth. It’s called eternity.
That’s why the best use of time ever is found in…
2 Corinthians 6:2b (ESV) — Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
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