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River City Men: Stewardship of Time

Check out our recap of our latest Men's Event on April 6th! These events are meant to give the men of River City a chance to connect with one another over meaningful topics, while enjoying one another's company.
We want to address stewardship as a means by which we take what God has graciously given us and use it for his purposes and glory. We have discussed financial stewardship, and this time around Bernt Eidsmoe led us the stewardship of time. There are great questions to ask of yourself, and Bernt faithfully points us back to Christ and the gospel as the means by which we can truly glorify God with our time.
Read through the content and work through the questions below, being prepared for encouragement and a challenge. Forgive the formatting! 
As we saw from a clip from the show “The Office”, Kevin attempted to save time in order to either “see the world” or “go to sea world” by using less words. This method obviously doesn’t work. You value your time, just like Kevin, so how are you making the most of it? What goals are you hoping to achieve with the time you have? What is your end goal concerning your time?
On a bigger and more important, scale, how do you view your time? Do you live as if you own it or as a steward of it? Do you see it as yours and only accountable to yourself or do you see it as a gift from God and ultimately accountable to Him? The following quotes sum up the two different schools of thought:
During a brief exchange between Gandalf and Frodo while in the mines of Moria, they are reflecting upon the hardships they’ve recently endured:
“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo. "So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
Gandalf sees time as given to us. It is not something we created and can ultimately control what happens. He is a steward of the time that is given to him.
The musical artist Pitbull has a different view in, “Feel This Moment”:
“But time is money, only difference is I own it. Now let's stop time and enjoy this moment.” 
Gandalf reflects how we are to use the time that has been given to us. The second quote from Pitbull, is one of ownership. Pitbull sees time as something he owns. The buck stops with him concerning his time. He can do whatever he wants with it.
So, how do you view the time you spend? Has it been given to you, or do you own it? Does scripture say anything about our time? If so, what?

OBJECTIVE

The goal in addressing the stewardship of time is to remind you of the gospel perspective concerning how you approach your daily activities, long-term goals, and lifelong outlook and how it relates to God’s glory and therefore, our joy.

My purpose is not to give you detailed time management tips or how to plan out your day. My hope is that you will see time as a gift from God and, by God’s grace, you see you are in charge of the time you have as a steward, not an owner. As a result, I hope you set an organizational structure for the time God has given you. Hopefully you will feel both convicted and free in your use of time.

We will be going through portions of the book of Ephesians setting the foundation and the proper outlook of time and we will sum up what Ephesians says with some application from Tim Challies' book titled,“Do More Better”.

First, we are going to set our foundation. We are about to dive in to Ephesians. Because our subject is our stewardship of time, as we read our passages, I want you to view what we are reading related to how we spend our time.
THE GOSPEL...
Ephesians 2:1-10
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
For those who are called by God, Christians, we weren’t created to spend our time living for ourselves in bondage to sin resulting in death. As a result of the gospel, we are now a new creation in Christ. We are counted as righteous for the purpose of good works. Not selfish desires. God has us where He wants us and we are to follow the Holy Spirit in how we walk. To quote 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.You are not your own, you belong to God as His creation."
Do you feel the weight of this? Do you desire to walk in good works - whatever those may be? As Christian men, how often do you actively look to glorify God spending your time in what you do? How often do you stop and realize, you were bought with a price for God’s glory and created for His works, not your own?
Because of the gospel, we are. We must be reminded that this is not a works-based reward system. This is all because Jesus fulfilled the Law of God on our behalf because we are unable to do so on our own merits. Christ did the work we could not, and as a result, we are to walk in the works God prepared beforehand for us. We are no longer walking in death and darkness, but walking in light and therefore, created for good works.
The gospel is the foundation of our faith and our stewardship. Without it, we have nothing. So any teaching claiming to be Christian MUST be rooted and as a result of the gospel!
The correct viewpoint of time is based upon scripture. Look at Psalm 127:1-2,“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.”
Going forward, we must view the gospel as paramount when it comes to time. If we view it as optional, then we end up with good tips that aren’t life giving. We look to the source - God’s Word, His Spirit, Him - for our foundation.
Ephesians 3:1-3
“For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly.”
“Assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace”...Paul goes back to the gospel. Now, because of the gospel, because Christ has reconciled sinners, who are now believers, to himself and to God, and because Paul is a recipient of that grace, he sees himself as a steward of that same grace that was given to him. He is using that grace to proclaim redemption and restoration to the church in Ephesus.
Paul is using the time that was given him to proclaim to his readers, the gospel.
Rhetorical Questions: What is “God’s grace?” What does that mean to “steward God’s grace”? How often do you think of yourself as a steward of God’s grace? How is Paul being a steward of God’s grace?
Paul is attempting to make the most of his time by proclaiming Jesus dead, buried, and resurrected. He isn’t sitting on his butt just waiting for Christ to return. He desires to be a good steward of the time and grace God has given him.

CONTRAST OF WALKING...

Ephesians 4:17-24
“Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
As a result of the gospel, we are to no longer walk and live in this manner. We ALL ONCE DID. ALL OF US! Our old self is dead and we are now created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Again, Paul stresses the gospel! This cannot be overlooked. This has to be stressed. Paul keeps pointing his readers to Jesus, not programs and self-help. He points us to “TRUTH”.
So because of the gospel and what Christ has done. How are we to view our lives. Our are we to live as a result of the gospel? How are we to spend our time?
Ephesians 5:1-2
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
Ephesians 5:15-17
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
To summarize, we are to be grounded in the gospel. We don’t look to self for answers but to Jesus. What does scripture command us to do with our time? “Be imitators of God. Walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. To be careful and wise. To make the best use of the time. To understand what the will of the Lord is.
Therefore we are to imitate God and walk in love as he first loved us. Don’t try harder by looking inward and attempting to muster up some self-centered motivation. Look to Christ! You Christians, now have the same Spirit as Christ. You have God as your Helper! Are you looking to Him?
  1. Do you see yourself walking differently as a result of grasping the gospel? How have you seen yourself grow? Where do you struggle? Why do you struggle?
    What does it look like to be an imitator of God in your current stage of life
    How are you currently called to walk in love as Christ did? Why can this be difficult? How and where do we find victory in this? Concerning the subject of time, what is the will of the Lord? What is His desire?
  2. Because we are saved by grace and not by works, what should our motivation be concerning the use of our time? Do you find freedom in this?
Concerning applicable ways to be good stewards of our time, I’m going to show you a clip an interview with Kirk Cousins. For those of you who aren’t sports fans or worse yet, hate the Vikings, please put bias aside and try and see the heart of what Kirk is attempting to do.
He uses physical rocks to number his days. To physically hold one in his hand and remove one every month is a constant reminder that his days are numbered and his time is not his own. He doesn’t end it. He’s alive until God calls Him home.
Another application to dive deeper into practical ways to look at time is a book by Tim Challies titled Do More Better. Disclaimer, I haven’t read the book but looking at his premise and outline, he lays out the gospel foundation of time and then gives practical application principals.
In chapter three of Do More Better, Tim asks his readers to define their responsibilities. He says, “Make no mistake: it is not easy to live in this world. We human beings are finite creatures who face infinite demands. There are so many things we could do in our lives and in any given moment, but so few we actually can do. There are few where still we can do with excellence. So much of life involves attempting to strike the right balance between competing demands.“
  1. “Each of us has areas for which we are responsible before God.”
    1. Our bodies
    2. Our souls (spiritual care/growth)
    3. Husbands -> wives
    4. Fathers -> children
    5. Christians -> other members of Christ’s Church
    6. The poor
    7. Sharing the gospel
    8. Etc
  2. Parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30
The Parable of the Talents
“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.28So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
  1. “The point is clear: God rewards those who faithfully steward what He has entrusted to them.”
  2. The talents and time you have are not yours. They were given to you. You are accountable for them. You will be accountable for them. Are you desiring to make the most of your time? Because of what God has done for you, because of the gospel, is this your desire? If not, why?
Group Questions:
  1. PRIORITY/FAITHFULNESS: What must I do this week? What are the things I must do in the week ahead to serve faithfully in each of my areas of responsibility?
  1. POTENTIAL/FRUITFULNESS: What can I do this week? What can I do to better serve others in each of my areas of responsibility? What can I do to excel in each of the responsibilities God has given me?
Challenge: before God, what am I responsible for?
  1. Personal
  2. Family
  3. Church
  4. Others (Friends, Neighbors, sphere of influence)
  5. School/Vocation
Take-Home Questions:
  1. What is it that the Lord has entrusted to you?
  2. What has he made you responsible for?
  3. If the master gave talents to his servants and demanded an accounting, what has God given to you, and where will he demand that accounting?

CONCLUSION

Because of the gospel, your are free! Because of God’s grace and because Jesus died for your sins, you don’t have to work to keep your freedom! You don’t work for your salvation. Christ died for you while you were still a sinner. You are free from the slavery of sin! Freedom to glorify God because of the undeserved, unmerited salvific work of Jesus Christ. Your day should be freeing in that Jesus accomplished the saving work in your life thereby making you a new creation and as a result, you have work to accomplish for God’s glory resulting in your joy. Your joy based upon the gospel is what your motivation should be to do the work that God has prepared for you.
Lord willing, you see your time as a valuable gift from God that He has given you. That you are motivated to see others saved by His grace. That you want to pour into the lives of others. That your outlook on life is one of God’s timing and you have been given a role to play. You are an instrument of God to bring Him glory. Whether you have 5, 2, or 1 talent, you have been entrusted with talents!
This isn’t legalism in creating a to-do list of checkboxes to perform which leads to you to attempt to please God because of what you can offer Him. This is you living and walking in the works that God has prepared for your before time began. This is you living because Jesus has freed you from the slavery of sin, the bondage to your dead self, and now you are free to abide in Him walking in the light. Desiring to live for Him because of what He has done for you. That is the will of God. That is making the most of your time!