CARELESS COMMITMENTS

EPHESIANS 4:15-16

MAY 10, 2015

Rev. Dr. Richard C. Meyer

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            Trudy and I make our annual trip to the island of Kauai this Wednesday.  As many of you know, I was born in Hawaii, in Hilo on the Big Island, but was raised in Southern California, and for my high school graduation present my father and mother teamed together with help from my Aunt Gladys, who was a travel agent, to send me and a friend of my choosing to Hawaii for six weeks that summer. I took my friend Karl LaCom.  Karl was a girl magnet, and I thought my time in Hawaii would be a little more fun with this girl magnet at my side.

            We spent most of our time on Oahu, in a condo about five blocks off Waikiki. Don Ho was playing at a local watering hole, not far from our condo, and we went to see him just about weekly.  We could not get enough of Pearly Shells and Tiny Bubbles. We also travelled over to spend time with my aunt and uncle on the island of Kauai for a few days. 

            Lets fast forward a number of years. Seven years ago Trudy and I travelled to Maui for our nieces wedding.  I told Trudy that after the wedding celebration, lets hop over to Kauai for a bit.  I told her I would love to see the island once again, that I had not been back since my time with Karl.  We did, and we fell in love with Kauai.  I love all the islands.  You cant go wrong with any of them, but Kauai is our favorite.  Its the greenest, and the least commercialized, and the quietest of the four major islands The Big Island, Oahu, Maui, and Kauai.

            When we travel, I always prepare in advance by reading Trip Advisor, a web site where you can get your travel questions answered by people who have travelled where you are going.  Every time I read through the Kauai forum, I read topics like, I only have seven days  or it might be five days on Kauai, what must I see and do?  Or Heres my schedule for the trip, give me feedback, and each hour is scheduled running from here to there. 

            I get it. Its probably their one and only time to go to Kauai and they want to see as much as they can.  They want to make the best use of their limited time on the island.  They dont want to commit themselves to seeing certain sites at the expense of more important sites. 

            This morning we bring our Spring Cleaning sermon series to a close. Weve worked on cleaning up our thoughts, our attitudes, our habits, and today we turn our attention to cleaning up our commitments.  In so doing, I want us to listen to the following counsel from the Apostle Paul.  In our passage for today he writes,

 

            Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil.

 

            Making the most of the time.  Interestingly, all of us have been given the same amount of time each day. When it comes to the hours in each day, the days in each week, we are truly equal.  Of course, many of us fret that we dont have enough time, or that time is going too fast or that time is going to slowly . we wish we could speed it up.  But the perspective of Scripture is that we already have at our disposal exactly the number of hours we need to do what God wants us to do without feeling rushed.  In fact, if we are feeling rushed it more likely has to do with what we have agreed to do, not always what God has called us to do.

            Dont believe me?  Consider Jesus life.  As I study his life I am amazed that Jesus never seemed to be in a hurry. Although he was doing the most important job in history (redeeming the world), and although he knew he only had a few years to do it, he never ran. He made time to consider the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. He had time to put his hands on the little children and bless them. Time was his friend, not his enemy.

            So, as we finish up our personal spring cleaning this morning, lets use the four letters of the word time to help us make the most our time, cleaning out the careless commitments that drain us.[1]

            Beginning with the letter T, we need to treasure time as a valuable commodity.  The Psalmist put it this way.  In speaking to God the Psalmist said, Teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart (Psalm 90:12).

            To appreciate the value of time, ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby,  “How valuable is a week? To appreciate the value of time, ask the businessman whose flight was delayed causing him to miss an important business deal, How valuable is an hour? To appreciate the value of time, ask the man who had a heart attack in the restaurant and an EMT happened to be sitting at the next table and CPR saved his life, How valuable is a minute? To appreciate the value of time, ask the person who barely missed a head on collision with an oncoming car, How valuable is a second? To appreciate the value of time, ask the Olympic swimmer who missed qualifying by two-tenths of a second, How valuable is a fraction of a second?

            We have heard the expression, time is money? Well, its not true. Time is much more valuable than money. We can always print more money, but we cannot print more time. As A.W. Tozer said,

 

            Time is a resource that is nonrenewable and nontransferable. You cannot store it, slow it up, hold it up, divide it up or give it up. You cant hoard it up or save it for a rainy daywhen its lost its unrecoverable. When you kill time, remember that it has no resurrection.


           
So, we need to understand that time, other than loving relationships, is the most valuable asset we are given. Time is a treasure.

            The next letter in time isI. It stands for invest. Although time is more valuable than money, like money time can be spent and invested. Its different from money though, because while money can be saved, time cant. It cannot be stored up for later.

            In the early 1970s Jim Croce alluded to that.  He wrote a song that said, If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing that Id like to do, is to save every day till eternity passes away - just to spend them with you. Those are great lyrics, and I loved the song when it came out, and it would be nice if we could save time, but we cant. In fact, a few months after Jim Croce wrote that song, he was tragically killed in a plane crash at the age of 30.

            We cant save time. We can, however, invest it. At a graduation commencement at his alma mater, Wheaton College, Billy Graham said,Time is the capital that God has given us to invest. People are the stocks in which we are to invest our time, whether theyre blue chips or penny stocks or even junk bonds.  And hopefully you have more blue chip rather than junk bond people in your life.
           
There are one-hundred-sixty eight valuable hours in each week. The average person will spend about fifty-six of those hours sleeping, about twenty-four of those hours in eating and personal hygiene, and about fifty of those hours working or traveling to work. That means the average person has thirty-five hours of discretionary time. Thats about 5 hours per day. Where are we investing those hours? Are we investing those hours carelessly or carefully?
           
If someone were to follow us around and observe us for those five hours, after a couple of weeks, they could tell probably what is most important in our lives. How much of that discretionary time are we devoting to God? How much are we devoting to our family? A study of fifteen hundred households, conducted at the University of Michigan, found mothers working outside the home spend an average of eleven minutes a day on weekdays, and thirty minutes a day on weekends with their children (not including mealtime). Fathers spend an average of eight minutes a day on weekdays and 14 minutes a day on weekends in different activities with their children.

            Have you ever heard a dad or mom day, I dont spend much time with my family, but the little time I do spend is quality time.’” Quality time, however, is somewhat of a misnomer, because all time has the same quality. Consider this second was it of higher quality than the previous second or of this second right now? Its like talking about quality money. If I offered you a hundred dollar bill, would you say, No, its wrinkled. Id rather have that new, crisp $5 because its of better quality. 

            Five hours of discretionary time each day.  How are we investing those hours?

            Treasure time.  Invest time.  The third letter in time is the letter M.  It stands for  manage. And it does not mean to manage time.  It has to do with managing something else.

            Of course, there is an entire field of study called time management. In almost every business in America, consultants are hired to teach busy executives how to better manage their time. Time management is a hot topic. In his book, however, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey pens these words:

 

            Time management is a misleading concept. You cant really manage time. You cant delay it, speed it up, save it or lose it. No matter what you do time keeps moving forward at the same rate. The challenge is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves.

 

            Listen.  If we dont manage ourselves, someone else will.  If Im constantly late, I have been doing a poor job of managing myself.  If Im overly busy, Ive been doing a poor job of managing myself what I have agreed to undertake. 

            The final letter is E, enjoy. Enjoy the time God has given us.  Do me a favor.  Turn to the person next to you and say these words to them, You do not have very long to live!  Go ahead, and turn to the person next you and say, You do not have very long to live!

            Now, what we just said to one another is very biblical.  James, Jesus half-brother wrote, You do not even know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes (James 4:14).

            If we knew we didnt have very long to live, what would we do? Would we do anything differently?  Would we spend time doing more of this and less of that? Most of us would spend more time doing things we enjoy doing.  The problem with careless commitments is they drain us, mentally, emotionally, even relationally. They do not bring us much joy. Lets enjoy the time God has given us. My friend Randy often says in parting, Well, this has been a slice of heaven.  Now thats a man who enjoys how he spends his time.

            More than anything enjoy your mom today.  And if your mom is gone, enjoy some memories of her.  Time is a precious gift from God. Thank you for taking time for this message. Amen!



[1] Rest of this message taken from a sermon Its About Time, by Jerry Shirley.