During 2019, several popular books were published on the subject of how we use our time. The February 10, 2020, issue of Time magazine carried an article talking about all these new books and programs (page 14). The article stated that in 2018 women spent an average of 4.9 hours a day on leisure activities, and men spent 5.7 hours. It also said that 55% of all Americans don’t use their paid time off.
God gives all of us 168 hours every week that we live. Let me encourage you to make out a time budget just for information purposes. Allow yourself generous amounts of time for what you already do. Give yourself eight hours a day to sleep, three hours a day to eat, 40 hours a week for your job, and 4.9 hours or 5.7 hours a day for leisure activities, as the Time article suggests. How much time do you have left? For most of us, it will be over 15 hours a week.
For Christians, we can spend that 15 hours in direct service to God. The local congregation would be blessed beyond measure if all of its members would do this. Visitation, caring for infirm and elderly people in a nursing home, operating a food bank, making phone calls to encourage and uplift others, teaching, caring for young people who lack adult care and guidance – the list is endless. Spending that time in front of a TV or watching R or X rated movies is not a good use of the time.
Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:6-8, “… the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith…” We will all defend our use of the time God gave us to live on Earth. For active Christians, how we use our time will not be an issue. Make your time count.
God has given you 168 hours of time every week that you live. The question that each one of us must answer is, “What to do with that 168 hours?” How do you use your time?
If you consider the average essentials, they might look like this: Eight hours a day for sleeping is 56 hours a week. Work might be 40 hours per week. If you take an hour to eat each meal, that would add up to 21 hours a week. Personal hygiene, including exercise, might be 20 hours a week.
That adds up to 137 hours a week, giving us 31 hours or more than 4 hours a day left. How do you use your time that is left? The chances are that the numbers quoted here not accurate with what you do. I never get eight hours of sleep in a day, but I work far more than 40 hours a week. Realize that these numbers are just a starting point for what we do with the time we have been given.
Suppose we took the Old Testament tithe of 10%. A tithe of 168 is 16.8 hours. Let’s round that down to 16 hours a week to give back to God. Assume you go to worship and Bible class every time the door is open at the Church meeting place. That would be four hours a week spent in worship and Bible study with other Christians. We still have 12 hours to give back to God every week. Let me point out that these numbers allow 14.2 hours a week for you to watch TV, go fishing, go to a movie, etc.
Sixty years ago, I decided that I was going to give God 12 hours a week, not counting “going to Church,” to equal 10% of what He had given me. I found it very hard to do. The way I did it included: Visiting people in the hospital. Writing and sending cards. Setting up and conducting Bible studies in my home or in other people’s homes. Getting involved in a prison ministry. Working with disturbed teens. Taking youth groups to rallies and workshops. Shoveling widow’s sidewalks. Preparing the Church bulletin.
I did those and other things and kept a record to get to 12 hours a week.