The below Bible study on principles from the Bible about using time wisely. These free inductive notes are intended as supplement to your own study, not a replacement. Feel free to copy, print, or share them. These notes can be helpful for individual study of the Word or for small group Bible studies. We hope your understanding of God’s Word is deeper from them.
Using Time Wisely – Principles from the Bible – Part 2
Practical Principle #4
We can’t do it all. God does not want us to do everything people ask us to do! We need to prioritize our lives so that we know what to say yes to.
Rather than share a particular verse for this idea, I want us to look back again at the life of Christ. He had multitudes following Him. Sometimes He ministered to the whole group but He chose to devote most of the life of His ministry to twelve men, His disciples. He was pressed about by sick people wanting to be healed, but He didn’t heal them all. Life gets busy and we need to keep our priorities straight. When we are asked to do something, do we automatically say yes, or do we take time to evaluate and pray about it?
Here are some questions to ask before making a commitment:
Does this activity take away from something I know God wants me to do? (For me this often means that it takes away from me being available to my husband if he needs me or taking time away from the home.)
If I do this activity, will it give glory to God? (There are good activities and there are the best activities. Sometimes the “good” is the enemy of the “best”. For example, when our kids were young one year we let them be very involved in sports. Joy was in Girl Scouts; Chad played soccer and baseball; and Jeremy played soccer. We were in the car driving the kids around all the time. We rarely ate a meal together. All day on Saturdays were devoted to sports. We had very little time to spend as a family talking about anything, much less focusing on God’s Word. After one year we decided that, while these activities were good- there’s nothing wrong with playing sports- they weren’t best. They didn’t allow us to focus on our first priority of raising kids who loved God. That’s an example of the good being the enemy of the best. Actually I see this a lot in China. Parents are continually pushing their children into one educational activity after the other. Homework, art classes, music classes, English classes, Spanish classes, dance classes. It never seems to end.) I think Satan likes us to think we are serving the Lord by doing all kinds of busy work, when God wants us to evaluate what His best is for our lives.
If we are married, another question God wants us to ask before making a commitment is what does my husband think about me doing this? (Stacy is a good gauge of what I shouldn’t do. If he doesn’t want me doing it, I don’t need to do it.)
Then we need to ask ourselves if no one else can do it, does it really need doing? (Situations can look urgent and we can think that God can’t get a job done if we don’t step up to do it. But some things just don’t need to be done. For example, if your school can’t find someone chaperone an extracurricular activity, maybe rather than you jumping in to fill that position, you need to realize that it’s not something that needs doing. Don’t be driven to do things that seem urgent and end up missing out on God’s best. And if it appears to you to be something that really is imperative to have done, are you really the one to do it or can you help find someone else?
And then ask yourself, who am I trying to please by saying yes to this? Am I being a God pleaser or a man pleaser? Gal 1:10
10 Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men ? If I were still trying to please men , I would not be a servant of Christ. I confess, this is a hard one for me. I like people to be happy with me! It’s a struggle to keep my focus on what God wants me to do rather than what others require of me.
There are more questions you could ask yourselves but you get the idea, I’m sure. Just don’t jump into things without asking God what He wants you to do! Pray before you answer. Tell people, “I need to pray about that first.” Sometimes we are so busy looking at the small picture that we forget the overall plan that God has for our lives.
Practical Principle #5
When we put God first, all other things fall into the right places more easily.
There is an idea in the Bible that is taught about giving our finances to God. It is in Mal 3:8-12
8 “Will a man rob God ? Yet you rob me.
“But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’
“In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse — the whole nation of you — because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit,” says the LORD Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty.
The teaching here is about money. In these verses God says that the people are robbing Him because they don’t give the tithe to His kingdom. Now, God doesn’t need their money! He owns it all! But He wants people to learn to give so that they can see His faithfulness and receive His blessing. And He tells them that if they would give the whole tithe (which was 10% of their income), He would open the floodgates of heaven (Cathy, this means to give them tremendous blessing). In fact, He says that He will protect their crops from pests who would eat it and that He will make their land more fruitful as a result of their obedience.
I’m convinced that the same principle relates to our use of time. If we put off having our quiet time, it seems there is never the time for it. But if we take the time to spend with God even if we’re busy, the rest of the day goes more smoothly. Have you ever just been so busy that you didn’t think you could take time for God? You just jumped into your day without looking to Him and it seemed as if everything went wrong from there on out! In my life, on days like that I know I usually have so many interruptions and frustrations that I find myself about to fall on the floor in a fit of temper! And then I’ll repent and get before the Lord, confessing that I’m trying to get through a busy day in my own strength. I’ll spend some time with Him, and suddenly the day flows better. I may still be busy but rather than walking in the flesh I’ll be walking in the Spirit. Things may still be frustrating but I have more grace to deal with them.
God’s like that. He rewards faithfulness. When we give Him the first of our day, having our time with Him early when we are most rested, He blesses our lives because of it. Give God the best time of your day when your mind is freshest and you can best listen to Him.
Practical Principle #6
Don’t be lazy, but don’t wear yourself out without proper rest either. Life is a balancing act. It seems some people lie around and do not much while others over work and end up exhausted or sick. On the one hand we shouldn’t lie around watching movies, reading books or playing on the computer when the kids are hungry, the house is messy and our husbands’ clothes are all wrinkled. We need to be diligent. Just take a peek at the Proverbs 31 woman sometime to see how she used her time! Sometimes we get overwhelmed by the jobs that we need to do and just sit around worrying about them instead of taking action. At times like those, we just need to do the next thing. Don’t look at the mountain of work in front of you. Instead just wash your dishes or prepare your message or whatever it is! Do the hardest jobs first so that the rest of the work looks easier and more doable. Combine activities when you can. By walking fast or jogging when you go to the store you can take care of exercise and shipping at the same time. Or if you need to spend time with your kids, spend time together working and talk while you work. This way you can work smarter.
The Bible uses ants as an example of diligence.
6 Go to the ant, you sluggard ;
consider its ways and be wise!
7 It has no commander,
no overseer or ruler,
8 yet it stores its provisions in summer
and gathers its food at harvest.
9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard ?
When will you get up from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest —
11 and poverty will come on you like a bandit
and scarcity like an armed man.
The ant does the jobs ahead of time and sees the results of the labor by having food when she needs it. On the other hand the sluggard (means lazy person) lies in bed and wastes time, and ends up hungry in the end. If we do the harder jobs first, the jobs we dislike doing most, they’ll be done and we can move on to more pleasant work!
But just as we need to be diligent, we need to realize that God designed our bodies to work 6 days and rest on the seventh. He gave us this example:
2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.
God wasn’t tired. He didn’t need to rest, but He rested to give us an example that we need to have a day of rest. We should not feel guilty when we rest. God designed us to need rest. If we have adequate rest we are healthier, happier, and more productive. Let’s work to strike a balance in our lives between wasting time that God wishes us to use for His glory and wearing ourselves out trying to be superwomen when God wants us to rest in Him.
Well, these are some of the ideas I have for how to manage our time better. To summarize, from Jesus we learned not to be defined by our careers but rather by our relationships with Christ. Don’t pursue wealth. Spend time alone with Him and don’t let it upset us when we are interrupted in doing that by the people in our lives.
And then we spoke of some practical tips for managing time:
Devote less time to your career.
Recognize which season of life you are in and be content with the restrictions you have in this season.
Don’t be performance oriented but rather enjoy your relationship with Christ without feeling that the more you do for Him the more He’ll love you.
Realize that you can’t do it all and be willing to pray through and say no when you need to.
If you put God first, all other areas of your life will fall into place more easily.
Don’t be lazy but don’t forget to rest either!
So what do you need to cut out of your schedule or what changes do you need to make to manage your time more wisely?