TEXT: Luke 12:16-21; 14:16-24; James 4:13-15
The students will be able to explain why it is important to use their time for spiritual gain or betterment.
There is more to time than just the hours, days, months, and years which pass during a lifetime. A more abstract concept of time is measured in the Bible. This can be broken down into four groups: the present time, the fulfillment of time, the future and end times, and eternity.
Jesus said, in Acts 1:7, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” Only God knows the fulfillment of the time which concerns everyone on the earth. God has always been and will be for eternity. He has sovereign control of time and He will bring His promises to pass.
Nations as well as individuals face the future and end times. The future is in God’s hands, and for the unbeliever it is filled with fear and uncertainty because a time of judgment is awaiting all those who turn their backs on God. The unbeliever faces an eternity of punishment. However, the Christian eagerly awaits the time when Jesus will come again, because the one who loves Christ will spend eternity with Him in His Kingdom.
In this lesson, we are mainly concerned with this present time. Though we now live within a limited time frame on earth, God will someday soon remove the time frame and we will live eternally. Because of that, how we live now will determine where we spend eternity. Ecclesiastes 3:1 declares, “to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” God’s Word tells us that now, this present time, is the accepted time of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Man is to practice righteousness at all times (Psalm 106:3). Because the days in which we live are evil, we are admonished to make the most of our opportunity to serve God (Ephesians 5:16). The Bible shows us that God is working out His purpose in man’s time. This present time is to be used for God’s glory. When this present time ends, so does our opportunity to choose where we will spend eternity.
Years ago, Will Rogers advised, “Buy land because they’re not making any more of it.” Another thing “they” are not making any more of is the number of hours in a day. God has given to every man a measure of time to be used as man chooses. Today, as always, the wise man uses his time for spiritual gain.
- Complete the following statements from Scripture:
Psalm 89:47 — Remember how ____________________________ (4 words)
Hosea 10:12 — It is time __________________________________ (4 words)
Luke 19:44 — Because thou knewest ____________________________ (6 words)
Romans 13:11 — Now it is high time __________________________ (5 words)
1 Corinthians 7:29 — But this I say, brethren __________________ (4 words)
Revelation 1:3 — Keep those things which are written therein:______________________ ____________(6 words)
Response: Psalm 89:47 — short my time is.
Hosea 10:12 — to seek the Lord.
Luke 19:44 — not the time of thy visitation.
Romans 13:11 — to awake out of sleep.
1 Corinthians 7:29 — the time is short.
Revelation 1:3 — for the time is at hand.
Move directly on to the next question.
- Which of the above Scriptures point out the importance of using our time for spiritual betterment, and why?
Response: Each one of these verses could lead to spiritual betterment. Allow students to explain why they chose the verses they did. Use their responses to help the class see the importance of using time for spiritual growth.
- Using your dictionary, define the 6th and 13th words of the key verse. Then rewrite the verse using these definitions.
Response: Circumspectly—redeeming. Ask volunteers to give their definitions, and then read aloud the key verse using these. The definition for circumspectly is: “to carefully consider all related circumstances before acting, judging, or deciding.” Redeeming: “to buy back; to make worthwhile; justify.” The purpose of this question is to clarify the meaning of this verse in the minds of your students. Help them to realize the importance of carefully considering the use of their time, and to make it as worthwhile as possible in all aspects of life.
- Listed in Ecclesiastes 3:2-8 are twenty-eight things that there are times for in life. Which two from the twenty-eight things are generally done by the disposition of God? Explain how they differ from the list of other activities regarding our use of time.
Response: A time to be born, and a time to die. After your students have contributed this answer, help them to see that the remaining things are done at the option of man. Ask your students who is responsible for monitoring the amount of time spent on the activities of life. Bring out that God gives each one a certain span of time but how it is spent is up to the individual.
- What is our responsibility with regard to how we use our time?
Response: Guide the discussion resulting from this question so your students will see that their responsibility is toward God, not just themselves or their families. Every man is granted the same amount of time in each day. How does its use affect their spiritual growth?
- List ways that you use your time for spiritual gain.
Response: Encourage your students to contribute their thoughts. Some ways mentioned may be: setting aside a special time for the Lord each day, Bible reading, prayer, carefully controlling the time spent in recreational pursuits. Help your class to recognize that their spiritual growth, or the reverse, is closely related as to how they use their time.
- Referring to the Luke 14 portion of our text, all of those invited to the great supper made excuses why they couldn’t go. Three specific excuses are recorded. What do you think was the true reason each excused himself from going to the great supper?
Response: They didn’t want to be at the supper. They didn’t want to take time away from other things that were of more interest to them. Discuss with your class the importance of wanting to make good use of their time. Ask for ways to inspire each other to use time for spiritual gain.
- What are we telling the Lord when we say we don’t have time to be involved in His work?
Response: Your students should see that, like the men who made excuses in this parable, they are placing their own interests ahead of God, and a greater value on worldly pursuits than on spiritual concerns. Ask students why a Christian cannot afford not to spend time being involved in the Lord’s work.
- What Scripture in today’s text is the key as to how we should make future plans for our time? What are the benefits of applying this thought to our daily plans?
Response: James 4:14 or 15. Allow time for your students to express their thoughts. Guide them to see that using the phrase, “the Lord willing,” helps them to keep in the forefront of their minds that God should be directing the daily use of their time.
THOUGHT PROVOKER: If you knew that your time was down to the last sixty minutes, how would you spend it?
Use a calendar to illustrate that there are many important days but the most important one is TODAY. Make it count for God.
Bring a match and let it burn. After blowing it out, explain that life is like a match. After a day is over you cannot live it again.
Make five clouds from gray construction paper. Print words on each cloud: PUT OFF — TOO BUSY — I WON’T — I’M AFRAID — I DON’T CARE. Make a cross (red) large enough to cover the clouds. Make suede strips, each one saying one of the following: GOOD WORKS — SERVICE — COOPERATION — CONFIDENCE — WILLINGNESS. Explain that we have been saved through the Blood of Jesus, and put the cross on the board. In spite of the fact that we are saved, we often make excuses why we don’t do the Lord’s work. Show each cloud and speak about the excuse, then place the cloud behind the cross and place contrasting words on suede strips on the board. Show when we are fully yielded to Christ, we want to live completely for Him. When you have finished your presentation, boil water to see the vapor vanish (James 4:14). Compare it to the time that was just spent watching this object lesson.
Have sheets of paper blocked off into segments of the 24-hour day. Have each student fill in how he or she would spend a typical day. Pass out another sheet to each student and have them fill in how they think they should spend it. (It may be revealing to you to do one in your lesson preparation time.) Discuss how to use time wisely.