1. Give and Do Your Best
My dad often talks about how the Christian should be known as the best employee in his or her workplace. He doesn’t mean they’re automatically the most skilled or the most knowledgeable, but they are the hardest workers. They’re the ones with the most integrity and the fiercest diligence. They’re the ones who throw themselves heart-deep into doing the best they can, because they don’t do it just for a paycheck. They do it ultimately for the glory of God. This is directly in line with Paul’s call: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Col. 3:23).
Sadly, our society has fostered a culture of complacency where teenagers are neither expected nor encouraged to work hard. It has become astonishingly easy for us to just get by, or to give a little less than our all and still get praised for it. Yet that’s misusing time. We sometimes give less than our best, because . . . why? Because we’re tired of doing hard work when no one else is? Because we feel like our efforts are wasted? Because others hate us for it? The excuses, though possibly true, fall short of gospel reality. In the end they evaporate, because the A on our paper is not the only thing God’s looking at. He’s looking at our heart. Diligence starts in the mind with an attitude that sets us apart from the world. God desires a heart that serves him with its very best.
2. Enjoy God’s Gifts
There are so many wonderful things in this world—art, autumn leaves, laughter, good conversations, root beer floats, flower gardens, summer barbecues, snowmen, sweatshirts, fairy tales, pie, playgrounds. God has given his children heaps of good gifts for our pure and utter enjoyment. Don’t miss out on them. When you grow distracted from taking pleasure in what God has given you, you are misusing your time. It’s easy to get drawn into our own little bubble, where our own problems, worries, fears, and concerns surround us exclusively.
It’s easy to let them cordon us away from everybody else and the joys of real life. I struggle with this tendency to be self-contained, to bury my head too deep in textbooks or fret so much about my future that I just go through the motions and miss the magic of life. Don’t do that. I have to intentionally choose to step out of the bubble, close the textbook, turn off my phone, shut down my computer, cut off the distractions, and embrace the wonder of life.
G. K. Chesterton poignantly assesses our condition: “We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders.”1Just look around and breathe in life with your eyes wide open. Don’t get so busy that you can’t appreciate God’s blessings. Joe Rigney, in his book The Things of Earth, adds to this: “Sometimes a pleasure is just a pleasure. Period. Full stop. God is honored by your enjoyment of it, your gratitude for it, and its fruitfulness in your life for the sake of the kingdom. So just receive the gift as one of the many pleasures at his right hand.”2
3. Sacrifice the Idol of Comfort
Most of us live a relatively comfortable life. In one sense, there’s nothing wrong with that. God is the One who has placed you in your particular circumstance, and you should rejoice in what he’s given you (see last point). But our comfort, like everything else we have (phones, houses, clothes, bodies), can become an idol. When we start elevating its status in our lives, we’ll find ourselves building an altar to it.
And an altar is never unused. We’ll begin to worship there and will begin to sacrifice to it. We might sacrifice sharing the gospel because it makes us feel awkward. We might sacrifice our church or godly friends or mentors. We might sacrifice giving or compassion. And we might embrace alternative things that smother us inside a bubble of comfort we refuse to burst.
Redeeming the time is choosing to burst that bubble. It’s giving up the smoothness and easiness of comfort for the greater sake of the gospel. Because sometimes we need to give up comfort. Really. There are a whole lot of better things to do than just be comfortable—things like telling someone about Jesus, things like serving someone you don’t like, things like fellowship, things like praying with someone, things like confronting a friend about sin, and things like standing up for what’s right. Don’t let comfort make you complacent.
4. Live in Light of Eternity
In light of eternity, this life is just a drop in a ginormous bucket. Randy Alcorn says it like this: Picture eternity as a line that stretches to infinity, and this life as a tiny dot at the beginning of the line. The smart person, he points out, doesn’t live for the dot. He lives for the line.3
The gospel of Jesus Christ can change how we spend our time.
In other words, everything we do, how we spend today and tomorrow and every day until we die, should be lived with eternity in mind. It shouldn’t be a mere afterthought but rather a kind of established truth that motivates our Monday mornings, a real truth for real life. It should fuel our desire to take hold of our lives with passion and purpose and to live for the kingdom of God on a daily basis. “Man is like a breath,” David writes in Psalm 144:4, “his days are like a passing shadow.”
Life Is Short, So How Will You Use It?
All this to say that our time on this earth is short. In his novel, The Chosen, Chaim Potok illustrated this through a father’s wise words to his son, Reuven. Human beings do not live forever, Reuven. We live less than the time it takes to blink an eye, if we measure our lives against eternity. . . . I learned a long time ago, Reuven, that a blink of an eye in itself is nothing, but an eye that blinks, that is something. A span of life is nothing. But the man who lives that span, he is something.4
We each have a blink. We can waste it in sinful busyness or laziness or discontentment or distraction. Or the gospel of Jesus Christ can change how we spend our time. Living for him means we view our life as his. It means we seize life with intention and passion. It means we do, give, and be our best; enjoy God’s gifts; sacrifice the idol of comfort; and live in light of eternity. It means we resolve with teenaged Jonathan Edwards to live with all our might, while we do live.
Time is of the essence. What will you do next?
- G. K. Chesterton, quoted in Bill Goodwin, “Wondering Why,” First Things, December 13, 2012, www.firstthings.com/web -exclusives/2012/12/12/wondering-why.
- Joe Rigney, The Things of Earth: Treasuring God by Enjoying His Gifts (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015), 171.
- Summarized from Randy Alcorn, Heaven (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2004), 420.
- Chaim Potok, The Chosen (New York: Random House, 1967), 217.
This article is adapted from This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years by Jaquelle Crowe.
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