Time is the great leveler
What is our most valuable asset? Most people would think of their home or retirement fund. True, these assets are for many the important part of a financial plan. Yet today, there are such vast differences in wealth and income that it is hard to talk about personal financial stewardship.
One person may have a million dollar home and the next a subsidized apartment. One person may have a retirement fund with millions of dollars and the next have only social security. However, there is one resource that is exactly the same for everyone, time.
The zero sum resource
We all have 24 hours each and every day. This is a zero sum resource. The time you spend on one activity is time you cannot spend that day doing something else. Time is the great leveler.
The great lie we have been told is that money is what matters most. However, beyond the amount necessary to eat, cloth, shelter and educate oneselves, there is little real need for money. Our consumer economy has literally and figuratively sold us a false bill of goods. We are encouraged to spend more and more money on things we don’t really need. What this steals from us is not really our money but our time. Earning more and more demands more and more of what is our most valuable and limited resource, our time.
Time is fixed
The billionaire cannot buy a longer day than the homeless man. Time is a zero sum resource. What we spend on one thing, we cannot spend on another. There are not more hours in a day or minutes in an hour for some than for others.
For the coming year, Christ Church is of course asking for a financial commitment from you. Every dollar we give in pledges goes into the community, housing the homeless, feeding the hungry, sheltering the abused, healing the sick, welcoming the immigrant and refugee.
Today is all we have
However, this year we will also be considering the most precious thing we have to give, our time. This is not just an attempt to increase the money or the volunteer hours at Christ Church. This message is spiritual.
You cannot be happy, faithful, or a Christian if you do not live a life of generosity and gratitude.
All we have is sheer gift. Every sunrise is a pure grace from God. The sunset is only followed by another sunrise by the grace of God. When the day is past, there is no saving it; there is no borrowing from the next day. Today is all we have. Are you generous with the time God has given you?
Jewish theology of time has the best approach to time stewardship with their emphasis on Sabbath. An entire day each week, work is prohibited. Instead the day is devoted to rest, prayer, study and family.
It is too bad that Christians destroyed this idea through legalistic blue laws and prohibitions. What makes a day the Lord’s Day is not that you can’t buy beer. Everyday is the Lord’s Day.
But we make a day or a time holy by giving it back to God.
Not forbidden but given
So let’s look at this a different way, positively–not by what is forbidden but by what it given.
The Biblical standard of giving is the tithe (10%). Rather than measuring a tithe by dollars and cents, what if you were asked, are you tithing your life, your time? Can you afford to give up a tithe of your time in service of God and others?
There are 112 waking hours in the week. Do you give a tithe of your time? This Stewardship Season, we will talking about how we give our time and talent. Let’s rethink our giving in terms of time. Are you satisfied with how generous you are with your time?
This is not about making anyone feel guilty. There are special circumstances. The mother of a newborn has holy work in her hands 24 hours a day. The homeless man probably spends the entire day trying to scrape together the bare minimum just to survive. The person who is acutely or chronically ill has less time to give.
Coming season of Stewardship
I think most of us can take a measure of our Christian life by looking at how we spend our time, our more precious resource. No one will be required to show their work, though you will be encouraged to do a tally for yourself and assess for yourself if you are in fact as generous as you want to be.
Throughout this season, you will receive tools to help you make a time inventory, to help you assess whether you are as generous as you want to be, to help you discover the gifts and talents you might like to give, and to offer you some new opportunities to give.
The Lord loves a cheerful giver! What level and kind of service will make you joyful? What will increase your sense of satisfaction? This October become a cheerful and generous giver of your time!