I recently posted a status update on my Twitter and Facebook accounts. It simply said “Wasting time is a sin.”
Here’s the problem. It’s an undefined statement. No wonder a few people were uneasy with it.
After all, what does “wasting time” look like? Something I see as a waste of time might be something of critical importance in your life. And vice versa. So, I confess it was an unfair statement, at least the way it was made.
But let me tell you why I wrote it. And why I’m not letting it go. It’s because I believe it. It’s because wasting time is a sin. It’s because I’m going to be held accountable for how I spent my life, and what I did with the time on this earth I’ve been given.
But what about that subjectivity that says wasting time for you isn’t wasting time for me? Here’s a clear, concise, and rock-solid answer; a few of them, actually:
“To him who knows the right thing to do and doesn’t do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17)
So, no matter who you are, there are “right things” to do. And my “right things” aren’t going to be the same as your “right things”, right? I just have to make sure that I’m all about the “right things” that I should be doing.
Or take a look at Ephesians 2:10:
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
See? We’ve all got appointments to keep. God appointments. And I suppose that “wasting time” would be anything that keeps you from the “good works” that God has for you to do.
Finally, take a look at the apostle Paul’s words in Ephesians 5:16:
“…making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”
So again, “wasting time” would be anything that keeps you from “making the most of every opportunity.” And believe me, I find these words as uncomfortable as anyone else. But I also find them compelling, and challenging, and a clear directive for living life not merely breathing in and out, but living with my flawed life in God’s perfect hand.
And in case we’ve never met, let me assure you that I’m no legalist. I’m not someone who, when it comes to the issue of “wasting time” for example, is going to say “Don’t watch TV. That’s wasting time. Don’t sit still for too long. That’s wasting time. Don’t walk slowly. That’s wasting time.” I wanted to clarify that because I think I’ve seen people who seem to think that way.
I’ve always believed that we as Jesus’ followers are actually not very good followers; not out of of blatant disobedience, but rather what we’re prone to move faster than Jesus is. And by definition, a follower must not go ahead of the one he/she is following. At the moment you do, you stop being the follower and you become the leader. I think we move faster than God intends, at least most of the time.
The truth is, I believe we serve a slow God. And when I say slow, I mean slower than we’d like for Him to be; not slow as in incapable or lacking in any way. Think about it. When you pray and ask God for something you want an answer. Usually now. When you have an expectation of God, your time frame is typically going to be a different plain than His is.
My favorite parts of Jesus’ ministry is not when He’s healing, or feeding, or teaching, or walking on water, or calming seas, or cursing the pretentious, or restoring lives. My favorite parts of Jesus’ ministry is when he’s “reclining.” And He’s often found in a home somewhere reclining at a table. So was Jesus reclining a waste of time? Obviously not.
And speaking of Jesus, aren’t His followers excited about His return? Aren’t some of them actually living on the edge of their seats as it were, with anticipation for His triumphant return? Aren’t we chomping at the bit to see the glorious revelation of the King? Consider this…
“For a thousand years in Your sight is as a day gone by…” (Psalm 90:4)
When did Jesus ascend to His throne in heaven? About 2,000 years ago, give or take. What does that feel like to Him, according to this verse? Two days. So, while we’re wondering what’s taking Him so long, He’s thinking “What’s the rush? I just sat down!”
Okay, long blogs lose people (or so I’ve been told) so I’m going to wrap it up for those who are still with me. One more verse, found in 2 Peter 3:9…
“God is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
So, what is it that wastes time? It is neglecting the “right things”, it is turning away from the “good works” and it is whatever causes us to miss “every opportunity” to share God’s love, God’s blessing, and God’s grace to those around us; no matter where we are or what we’re doing.