I looked at my daughter’s math worksheet and sighed. I had walked away 10 minutes earlier after giving her instruction and returned to check on her progress. Her page was covered, not with solutions to the problems but with doodles. Hearts, stars, rainbows and stick figures riding stick horses.
“Sweetheart,” I said with patience I did not feel, “you just spent 10 minutes doodling. You could have finished this page already. I know you understand what to do-right?”
“Meh,” she replied with a sheepish grin. “I just want to draw.”
“I understand, but I told you it’s time to do math and you did not obey. Once you finish your math then you can spend the rest of the day drawing if you want. This," I held up her paper, "was a foolish way to spend you time, and it got you into trouble.”
And there in this moment of parenting, I spoke aloud my biggest issue with time management. Foolish spending that gets me into trouble.
Last week, I talked about how fear has a way of dictating how we spend our time. I mentioned how fear of saying no to others is a big issue for me, as I lean towards fearing man more than I fear God. But, my reoccuring downfall is most often foolish wasting of time. Maybe this isn’t a problem for you. Maybe you spend every minute of every day finding something productive to do. That’s my husband. If he doesn’t finish the day knowing that he squeezed every last bit of productivity out of the day, he is frustrated. I on the other hand kind of shrug and say, “Meh. I can always do that tomorrow.”
Procrastination is the fuel that keeps me wasting time with things that don't matter. For instance, say I sat down to write this post, and then suddenly (and hypothetically - wink, wink) had the urge to google how tall the Effiel Tower is (984 feet, in case you, too, desperately needed to know) Sigh...
What is foolishness? It is the absence of wisdom. Sometimes it leads to sin (more on that in a minute), but sometimes it’s just something that has no benefit. It’s not sinful, it’s just wasteful. For me, this includes things like binge watching TV, sleeping too much or not enough, junking out on food that I know will make me feel icky and sluggish, and, like I talked about in the last post, saying yes to everything and not giving my family space on the calendar to rest and be together. It’s just foolish. All of these things boil down to making wise decisions with my time and sometimes I really lack wisdom. More than I’d like to admit, I find myself saying things like, “If only I had not done __________, I would be able to do __________.” Usually when me, myself and I start having that conversation, I know I have made a foolish decision with my time.
God’s Word has a lot to say about wisdom:
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7
…for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her. Proverbs 8:11
Ah, I love that last one. Nothing we could desire can compare with wisdom. And we do desire many things don’t we?
And this is where foolishness takes us beyond just wasteful to all out sinful.
When I foolishly indulge my appetites, I am left feeling depleted, empty and dissatisfied with my life. My sinful nature then starts to try to fill that emptiness with other things...the Bible calls these other things idols. But, when I pray for wisdom, and by God’s grace follow his purposes, I am filled with him. When we are filled with God, we don’t create for ourselves other idols (Colossians 2:8-10). We are full.
The wise writer and theologian, C.S. Lewis said it this way,
“If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” The Weight of Glory
On our last family vacation, we hiked up to a waterfall in the Rocky Mountains. Not once on that hike did I regret that I was not spending that time watching TV, or taking a nap, or browsing social media. If we are going to be good stewards of our time, we have to be willing to say no to the foolish things that steal beautiful, life-giving moments. We have to stop being satisfied with mud pies in the slums of a life spent chasing mediocre pleasures and go see what it’s like to build sand castles on the beach of a life that is chasing the purposes of God. The more we experience satisfaction in Christ, the less satisfied we will be with our sin.
My prayer for us today, is that we would not be enslaved to the fear of other’s opinions, our own bad habits, or the sin we are holding on to. I pray that we will have the courage and wisdom to say no to the unnecessary things so that we can say yes to the things of God. May we be found faithful stewards with the time God has given us on this earth, mindful that our time is now and we must not waste it.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do...But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:16-25
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we are imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27