Scriptural reflections on giving timeRichard Lundie
Time: A commodity that has no bias. We can’t hoard it. It’s not stored in a savings account. Every person is only given 24 hours per day: it is the ultimate equalizer. Time, like manna in the exodus, is given and consumed daily. This is perhaps why Moses asked of the Lord “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps 90:12). For a full life, rich in fruitfulness, we are to examine how well we use our daily allocation of 24 hours. Let us number our days, gaining a heart of wisdom as we make best use of what he has entrusted to us. As you will see, when looking at the life of Jesus and the early church, we are invited to invest our time into eternal purposes.
Jesus spent time alone
Jesus spent lots of time alone (Matt 14:23; Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12). This is great news for introverts who struggle with people-overload. Jesus was intimately connected with his Father. He desired to spend time alone with God, found it crucial to life on earth, and made it a priority. Take courage: our lives don’t have to be a rushed experience. Rest and take a breath, allowing God to fill you up and pour into your weary spaces. Ask the spirit to burn a passion for The Word and prayer in your heart.
Jesus spent time one-on-one with others
Jesus was strategic about having one-on-one conversations. I can’t help but think this made people feel special, heard and seen. Jesus would have been the model of “Sawubona” in our South African culture! What I love about Jesus’ example is that he didn’t seem inconvenienced by these interactions but rather sought them out. I think of the Woman at the Well (John 4)– we know that encounter was his perfect timing and a cross-cultural interaction that changed her view of ‘religion.’ Or what about the Rich Young Ruler (Mark 10) that ran up to Jesus while he was on a journey out of town; Jesus stopped and took time to challenge this man’s thinking – not a popular conversation but Jesus had the boldness to speak truth and challenge the selfishness in this man’s attachment to possessions. All over the gospels we see Jesus stopping to be with people in a one-on-one interaction. What are some ‘spaces’ in your life where you can spend your time in one-on-one interactions? How can you be intentional about slowing down and seeing those who need a listening ear, some encouragement or a challenge?
Jesus spent time with crowds
Jesus was often seen at parties. His first miracle was at a celebration (John 2, water into wine). Like in our culture, parties were a family affair. Jesus’ culture held lots of feasts and traditions of gathering over meals and celebrating faith-based occasions. I think of Jesus reclining at the table with his disciples, tax collectors (Luke 5:27-32) or going to Mary and Martha’s for a hangout (Luke 10:38-42). Notice that some of these crowds were ‘close’ to Jesus in relationship, and others were large group of strangers. In his limited, precious time, Jesus reached out to those who were on the fringes of society as well as those who were close friends. How much of your time is spent directed towards those who are socially excluded? How could you redeem your time to engage more with those whom society frequently overlooks?
The early church shows us how to give of our time
As we look through how the early church worked in Acts, we see volunteering and serving all over.
- We see generosity – followers selling their possessions and distributing the proceeds among those who had need (Acts 2:45; 4:32-37)
- We see people taking the time and energy to bring the sick and those with unclean spirits to the apostles (5:16)
- We see specialised service – Acts 6 tells of how people full of the Spirit and wisdom were appointed to oversee the distribution of food to widows.
- We see hospitality. A man called Judas hosted Saul just after his conversion, when no one else would do so (9:10-19); Simon hosted Peter in Acts 10:6; Lydia hosted a missionary group (16:15).
- We see service in charity, with a woman called Tabitha who was “full of good works and acts of charity” (10:36)
These are not typical, structured volunteer roles. It is just using time, talents and resources for the furtherance of Jesus’ Kingdom purposes. Jesus is on mission to reach people across this planet with his good news. And his chosen vehicle to do that is The Church – every Christ-follower. Not just the ‘experts’ who are vocationally involved with ministry, but every single person who claims allegiance to him. Every Christ-follower has something to bring and contribute to this mission. We are invited to use the daily manna of 24 hours to contribute towards his purposes.
We are invited to invest our time
This is an incredible opportunity to utilise what he has gifted to us all. In varying proportions, we have time to give (in formal, structured opportunities and the everyday life we have), we have talents (experience, education and connections) and treasures (financial means and intangible means). Every one of us has resource in some way that can be used for His glory. Serving His purposes by using what he has entrusted to us means that we take what will ultimately disappear and investing them in eternal purposes that moth and rust cannot destroy. As we serve and volunteer to continue the work of Jesus, we see the work of the devil destroyed (1 John 3:8). God is already working across Cape Town and is beckoning his followers to join in with His work. As we join together in this good work, we will indeed see the city being filled with the Life, Message and Fame of Jesus.
How are you using the 24 hours of each day? How much goes towards being a blessing to others, in his Kingdom purposes?