I deleted an app from my iPhone this afternoon.
It was a good app, and free when I got it. But, as I read through Jonathan Edwards’ Resolutions, as I do every year, I became instantly convicted that this app—which I just downloaded yesterday—has already wasted too much of my time.
Edwards, regarded by many as the finest American theologian ever, jotted down 70 resolutions over the course of several months in 1723, and these have stood the test of time as some of the most brilliant, yet simple resolutions a Christian can make.
Several of them cut like a boning knife through my flabby heart, not the least of which is Resolution No. 5:
Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but to improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.
Not one moment wasted. Not even when I’m waiting at the airport or stuck in traffic. Not even when I’m early to an appointment—a rare event in any case—and have 15 minutes to kill. To Edwards, a truly godly man, those 15 minutes didn’t belong to him in the first place, and therefore, were never his to kill or make alive.
I love this resolution of Edwards, not only because it sounds ambitious to the point of heroic, but because it is so squarely biblical. It’s nothing more than a simple restating of the Apostle Paul’s instructions to the church at Ephesus:
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16)
I want to imitate men like Edwards and Paul, who understood and embraced the gospel so wholeheartedly that every moment became an opportunity to capitalize upon and make the most of, for my ultimate joy, for the good of others, and for the glory of God.
Step 1: Cut out the Fat
The first step to capitalizing on the precious opportunities that each moment represents—to really redeem the time and make the best use of it—is to prayerfully quit doing things that do waste time. There goes that iPhone app. Is Facebook next? Pinterest? Maybe.
That’s what Edwards means when he resolves to “never lose one moment of time,” and it’s what Paul is shooting for when he warns his readers to watch how they’re walking, “not as unwise, but as wise.”
Can you picture Jonathan Edwards, the third president of Princeton, frittering time away on Facebook or Twitter? Or, can you picture the Apostle Paul, commissioned by Jesus as a servant and a witness to the resurrection, burning time on his cell phone while he waits for the bus?
Step 2: Capitalize on the Moment
Following the pattern set by Paul in Ephesians 5, Edwards counters his negative goal (to not waste time) with a positive objective: “to improve (each moment) the most profitable way I possibly can.”
This “improvement” starts with the heart. Are we actively seeking Christ where he is to be found—in his Word and among his people, the Church? Are we actively seeking to embrace the gospel so that we can say with Paul, “the love of Christ controls us”? (2 Corinthians 5:14)
This is what Paul means by “making the best use of the time,” and there is no app for it.
This kind of living takes discipline, study, and Christian community. And this is the kind of living that will really make a difference in the world, including the people you interact with on an everyday basis.
One Suggestion: Heartbeat Academy
How can you improve each moment in the most profitable way you possibly can in 2013?
- Do you need further training to be best equipped to counsel the desperate woman who believes abortion to be her only option?
- Are there steps you can take to make the best use of the opportunities God gives you in the coming year?
Geared toward life-affirming leaders, staff, volunteers, and supporters within the pregnancy help movement, the Academy offers just the kind of training you may need in order to make the best use of the time you’re given in 2013.
In the meantime, be choosy about your apps.