The Gift of Time
Written By: Jeremiah Storkson
I love giving gifts. It is an awesome opportunity to show people you love how much you care! What is always the worst, though, is when you make or buy someone a gift and they do not use it. In high school, I had one of these moments. My amazing mom’s birthday was coming up and I wanted to get the perfect gift, so I got a shirt that I was sure she would love. Fellow men, I would advise against getting women fashion as gifts unless you know for a fact that they want that specific shirt or article of clothing. Women have a tendency of being picky about their clothing. Anyway, back to the story. I got her this shirt, and I was so excited to see her face when she received it. I just knew her reaction would be worth it. Her birthday came, and I gave her this gift. Her reaction wasn’t awful, but it said everything about what she thought of it. Have you ever seen someone say that something is “nice,” but the way they say it screams, “I really don’t want you to know that I don’t like this gift”? This was what my mom did. She did it well—graciously, kindly. I thought she loved it, but I came to realize that she didn’t, and for good reason. The shirt was ugly. Either way, it stinks when you put a lot into giving a gift, and it either isn’t used or isn’t appreciated.
The Scripture I am writing about in this week’s article also has to do with a gift. I am writing about the parable of the talents. During Jesus’ life on earth, He often taught through stories He made up to communicate an important idea or point He would make. In fact, He was very good at telling these stories. The parable of the talents is one of a series of parables that are talking about the Kingdom of heaven and the brevity of life. In this series, He seems to be warning us to keep watch and live in awareness that any day can be our last. This parable continues down that direction.
“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.” Matthew 25:14-18 (NIV)
Essentially, in this parable Jesus is talking about stewardship. The boss gave these men different allotments of talents (a unit of money), which can be also called “gifts.” The man with five bags was given ten talents. The one with two bags was given five talents, while the man with one bag had just one talent. They were given these to take care of for their master. Two of the workers invested and multiplied their talents, while one of them buried his. Below, we see the response the boss gives… “After a long time, the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’ “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’ “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So, I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So, you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.’ So, he took the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who had ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 25:19-28 (NIV)
The boss in Jesus’ story gets extremely angry with the worker who buried his talents. If this had happened in today’s world, we would probably describe the boss as “salty” or “shook.” Why is that? The reason is that the servant didn’t gain more: he simply let it sit. There is so much significance to this parable that Jesus brilliantly tells.
We all have individual gifts that God has given us, whether we have realized them or not. We also have universal gifts, or gifts that everyone gets. One of those is time. No matter how much time we have, we all still get it, and we each have the same 24 hours each day. I truly believe that oftentimes we are more like the worker who buries his gift when it comes to our time. We often settle for buried time rather than multiplied time. As college students, it feels as though we need 28 hours per day rather than 24. Homework and school activities can make it easy to want to forsake time as a tool rather than a gift, or as an obligation rather than an opportunity. But I truly believe that God has given it as both a gift to cherish and a responsibility to steward. How we use our time is important to God. Why though? This brings up the word “jealous.” There are several Scriptures in the Bible that describe God using this word. The truth is that God really is a jealous God. He desires our hearts, our days, and even our time. He wants the first of your time. This is not only for His benefit, but for ours. When we choose to use the gift of time that God has given to us, and when we give the first of it to Him, we will find the peace, strength, and patience to enter our days. So, how do we give our time to God? How do we best multiply this gift?
Here are three ways we can multiply our time:
1. Prioritize His Presence
What do you do in the first five minutes of your day? I know for me, my default at times is to check my texts, or to look at Twitter or a news app. But what I have realized is that my most purpose-filled days start with God’s presence. It starts when I begin by praying, or by getting into His Word. This week, I want to challenge you to make getting into the presence of God a priority. It doesn’t have to take an hour, it can simply take 10 minutes of seeking Him. It will change the way you walk through your week.
2. Use Your Time to Serve
We were meant to serve. We were given time not just to use it for our own benefit, or even our own spiritual benefit. We were given time so that we can reflect His love, compassion, and character to the world! Serving can come in the form of the seemingly little, humble things. Remember, Jesus washed feet; He didn’t always perform major spectacles (although He did that, too). He served when He wasn’t expected to. We are called to reflect that. How are you serving others on campus, or in your family, or even your workplace? Acts of service reflect the character of God more than we think.
3. Use Your Time for the Building of His House
This is so vital. We are called to be a part of and to build Christ’s house, or His Church. This entails both discipleship as well as evangelism. It means we spend time serving the local church, pouring into and being in community with others in it, and bringing those who don’t know Christ into it. Those are all roles we are called to have in the Church! Do you have a local church that you are consistently a part of? For me personally, finding a local church to get plugged into here in Bartlesville has changed my life, and has made college even more fun that it would have been without it. Jesus encourages us to multiply the gits we have through this parable. When we multiply our time by giving it to others, His Kingdom will grow.
Time is unlike many other things. You cannot get it back, but you also get to choose how you use it in the future. What are you doing to multiply the time God has given you? It is a gift, and God gives gifts for a reason. He has called you and purposed you for a life that is bigger than what you can see. But it takes giving your time to Him. Like the workers faced their master, we will one day face Jesus, giving an account for our lives. That includes our time. This is not meant to scare us. His Grace is enough. This reality, however, is meant to encourage us to use our time for Him! It is meant to give us an urgency as we live our lives for Him. This week think about the moments of your days and choose to give them to Jesus. Choose to be the faithful servant who uses time well, and not the man who buries it.