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How Are You Using Your Time? - What are you sacrificing to God

How are you using your time?

Many of you know that I am a fan of Jordan Peterson. He recently did an interview with James Lindsay, where they discussed the question, “What are you sacrificing?” This topic really stood out to me, since I am often convicted about how I spend my time.

Dr. Peterson and Lindsay discussed Cain’s sacrifice from the Old Testament, found in Genesis chapter 4. The story goes that Cain ended up killing his brother Abel out of jealousy. Why? Because Cain was jealous of his baby brother since Abel pleased God with his sacrifice when Cain did not.

The problem was, Cain didn’t give his best. His sacrifice was sub-par, and so God rejected it. But Abel pleased God with his sacrifice and gained God’s favor.

This stood out to me because I often do the same. I don’t always give my best. I don't always spend my time wisely. I procrastinate. Sometimes I even find myself having a bad attitude when I go to do my work. Like Cain, I give a sub-par sacrifice and then expect wonderful results. Then I get angry, frustrated, or discouraged when those results don’t happen.

This was especially evident when I noticed how much time I was spending on my phone. Three weeks ago, I looked at my digital-wellbeing and noticed that on one day, I had spent hours reading manga (I’m too embarrassed to tell you the exact amount of time I spent on that.)

Granted, I took the day off, but certainly there was something better I could have done with my time instead of wasting it by reading manga all day!

There’s a little parable from Proverbs 24 that speaks more into this subject:

I went past the field of a sluggard, past the vineyard of someone who has no sense; thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins. I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.

– Proverbs 24:30-34 NIV

This parable is a warning against laziness of every kind. Notice what the lazy man does; he just wants to relax and enjoy his time. He fooled himself by saying, “A little more sleep won’t hurt.” But in the long-run, it hurt him greatly. It brought him to ruin as his vineyard was destroyed.

Could this parable apply to more than just sleep? Of course!

This parable is a picture of all types of laziness - Enjoying sleep a little too much, cutting corners or giving sub-par work to get it done faster, pushing work onto others, procrastinating (like me,) wanting entertainment all the time (me,) or maybe loving food and just want to snack instead of working (also me.)

Laziness doesn’t look like any one thing. It could take on multiple forms depending on who you are. But when laziness seeps in, it’s hard to get rid of... it’s like a habit that feels impossible to break.

However, breaking out of laziness in not impossible. Let’s look at a few ways we can remember to use our time more wisely (and give better sacrifices to God.)

Realize that your time is a gift from God

Your time is a gift given to you by God. Every breath you take was breathed into you by Him. When you keep this in mind, it is easier to do what you know you are supposed to do rather than what you might want to do at that moment. God gave you a limited amount of time, and you never know when that time will end. Use it wisely.

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 ESV

Since God gave us our time, we should be giving back to Him the best sacrifices we possibly can.

Keep Your Priorities Straight

1. Your family should always be one of your most important priorities. Unfortunately, laziness will negatively impact your family and their ability to thrive. Ecclesiastes 10:18 says, “Through laziness, the rafters sag; because of idle hands, the house leaks.” (NIV) In other words, you reap what you sow, and your family may end up with the negative consequences.

2. A Christian’s number one goal is to remain in Christ (Luke 15). This is why laziness is not an option. Paul discusses this in 1 Thessalonians 3:6-10 - In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” NIV

Jesus never suffered from laziness – though He might have been tempted to do so. He’s our example, so we should be imitating Him in every way. This means giving our best when He calls us to do something.

3. What about other life-goals? Personal goals are God-given aspirations. But if you do not work at them, you will never achieve them. Proverbs 21:5 says, “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” NLT

Again, Proverbs 21:17 says, “Those who love pleasure become poor; those who love wine and luxury will never be rich.” NLT

Perhaps your goal is to make X amount of money at the end of the year, lose 5 pounds this month, and learn a language within 2 years. Those are great personal goals, but if you never work, never start a diet, and never pick up a book in your target language, you will never succeed. Cutting corners won’t work either. Hard work is always necessary for success.

God desires mercy, not sacrifice

God is so kind even when we are not at our best. None of us are perfect and we all fail sometimes. There’s a famous verse from Hosea 6:6 For I desire mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

This verse doesn’t mean that God never desires sacrifice (since God instituted sacrifices in the Old Testament) but that having knowledge of God and a heart of mercy is more important to God than any mere sacrifice we could ever give Him. Above all else, God wants us to have a heart for Him. Though our sacrifices should always be the best we can give, God is merciful to us even when we fail. So don’t beat yourself up for not being perfect. Instead, go to God and ask for forgiveness for shortcomings. He will give you grace and mercy every time you ask.

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