It seems a little odd to put it on paper, but there it is. If that number reflected my savings account, Twitter followers, or church-size, I’d be a little more encouraged.
But according to my math, those are the number of days I have left – at least here on earth.
Now don’t get the wrong idea. I might lean toward the melancholy, but I wouldn’t consider myself morbid. I thought I would do what the psalmist tells us to do: number our days.
“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” –Psalm 90:2
There it is – 14,965 days.
This is an estimate of course. The number of our days may be less or may be more, but they are never enough. Because time is sacred we should steward it wisely. Unlike many other things we can lose in life and get back; time is gone once it’s gone.
I suspect that this is why the Bible has so much to say about time. It would seem that we are not born with a heart of wisdom as it relates to time. Like everything else, sin has distorted our view and use of time. So it’s not surprising, that in Christ, we have to learn to restore time for its proper use.
In Hebrew, the word wisdom can mean “skilled.” So to steward time wisely is to be skilled with how we see it and steward it. To waste our days or mismanage them is to act foolishly and unskillfully.
In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul wrote to a church living in the ancient city of Ephesus. He wanted them to live wisely, as a Spirit-filled, Jesus-following, God-honoring, and people-loving community. In Ephesians 5:15-17, Paul says, “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.”
We are not our own. Time is not entirely ours. God gifts it to use so that we might use it for His purposes.
So what does it look like to steward time well? How do we invest time in a way that honors God, serves our family well, and enables us to live more awake? The following is a list of ways we can skillfully handle the days we have been given.
- Schedule your time – Like money, if we don’t budget our time, we can easily waste it. Create a weekly or monthly schedule. Obviously life happens, but a schedule helps you live more intentionally and more focused. A schedule allows you to integrate your different roles and activities into daily rhythms. Create your normal or desired week on paper and then make every effort to execute the plan!
- Protect your time – Learn to say no, even to good things. We live in a culture where the opportunities are endless. Most of the opportunities are good things. But at what cost or expense to your marriage, to your kids, or to your family as a whole? Are there events, activities, or opportunities that God is calling you to say no to?
- Avoid being greedy with your time – We become greedy with our time when we guard it at the expense of investing it in others. Maybe we no longer serve in our church, invite friends into our home, or reach out to neighbors. An overreaction to the busyness of life can cause us to be greedy with our time if we’re not careful. This misuse of our time prevents us from loving, and being loved, the way Jesus intended.
- Be careful of living too much in the future – When we live only for tomorrow, we lose today. The time slips past us, tricking us by thinking it is a means to something better. All of us can be tempted to live too much in the future – next month, our next vacation, a different job. For many people, the “glory days” aren’t the past; they are the future. But better is most often what is right in front of you – your spouse, your children, and your family. Don’t miss the obvious!
Buechner said it well when he wrote “We are fools if we do not live it (our lives) as fully and bravely and beautifully as we can.” Number your days. Count them. Put it on paper. Not in a morbid way. We count our days, so that in the end, we can honestly say our days counted.