From the depths of a Roman prison, Paul wrote to Timothy, his beloved friend and brother in Christ: “Do your best to come before winter” (2 Tim. 4:21). Paul knew that in the winter, the Mediterranean sea trade all but ceased. Ships would anchor in a safe harbor so as to avoid the violent storms that plagued the Mediterranean during the winter months. If Timothy were to make the voyage from Ephesus to Rome, it would have to be before the ships stopped sailing.
There was an understandable sense of urgency in Paul’s writing. Nero was on the throne. Paul himself knew that his death was imminent, “the time of my departure is at hand” (2 Tim. 4:6). Timothy needed to drop everything and get to Rome as fast as possible.
A lesson for reflection: every Christian would be a better steward of time if we appreciated the fact that some things have to be done “before winter,” or not at all.
Life is a temporary assignment. Job said, “Our days on earth are a shadow” (Job 8:9). The Psalmist wrote, “So teach us to number our days that we might gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12). James says, “Your life is a vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes away” (Jas. 4:14). In the interest of becoming better stewards of time, consider the following concepts:
Good stewards see time as a gift from God – “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps. 118:24). The time we have given to us is a gift from God Himself. Think about how it must sound in His ears to hear us constantly complain,
“I haven’t enough time.” Paul wrote, “My God shall richly supply all your needs” (Phil. 4:19). While there will never be enough time to do all we WANT to do, by faith we can believe that God gives us the time to do what we NEED to do. Solomon wrote, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecc. 3:1). We would be better stewards of our time if we looked at each day as a God-given day.
Good stewards reflect often on how Jesus used His time well – After only 31⁄2 years of ministry, Jesus prayed, “I have finished the work You have given me to do” (John 17:4). Jesus used His time well by loving and investing in people (Mark 10:21). He used His time well by giving Himself to the ministry of prayer (Mark 1:35). He used His time well by demonstrating daily dependence on God (Matt. 6:11). He used His time well by remembering that much would still need to be taught and accomplished even after His crucifixion (John 16:12). Most importantly, Jesus used His time well by seeking the glory of God in everything He did (John 8:29; 1 Cor. 10:31). We would be better stewards of our time if we saw time and opportunities more like our Master.
Good stewards of time realize the need to depend on and yield to God – James says that when we make plans without considering God’s will, we are arrogant and proud (Jas. 4:15-17). Paul planned to go work in places like Asia and Bithynia on one occasion, but Scripture states that God had other plans in mind (Acts 16:6-7). We will be better stewards of time when we remember the possibility that some of the inconveniences, interruptions, and changes of our plans might, in fact, be intended by God to help make us more like Christ (Rom. 8:28-29).
Time can be spent, wasted or invested wisely to the glory of God. Everybody struggles with being a good steward of time, but with God’s help and wisdom we can grow in this area. May He truly be glorified in how we choose to use the time He has given us.