If you think about it, we spend all of our lives working with budgeting. Certainly we do it with financial resources. Few are there among us who don’t have to consider this practical matter of being wise both for today and for the future.
Beyond material resources, we need to also be considerate of budgeting our time and energies. Coming out of high school, we think through what we are going to do with those transitional years of life. Are we going to invest in education, in military service, or jump immediately to a career?
In any event, we are thinking about our skills, our time, our passions and our resources, evaluating how to put it all together for the best.
In terms of fulfilling our mission in life as believers, we also should think of this in the vein of budgeting … considering how to use our talents, spiritual gifting, energies and time, all for God’s glory and the expansion of the Kingdom.
Our second statement this week about being on mission for God is this: Mission demands walking wisely in a world that is out of step with God’s truth. Paul says the following in Colossians 4:2-6 …
2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
We think of Paul as a great communicator, and it is interesting to see that he requests prayer that he will have the opportunity and capacity to present the gospel clearly.
Beyond that, he encourages his readers to consider how they handle themselves and speak before a watching world. Our political discourse in the current day has taken on a terribly crass tone. For many of us, though we may agree with the ideas and concepts, we may disagree with the way it is said and presented. It is not an attractive vehicle for the message, and the message is either not heard or not understood with clarity.
And so it is with our faith. We represent Christ and his kingdom. And we need to understand that it is natural for people to judge or evaluate any program, cause, or organization by the people who belong to it. And our presentation of the gospel message is not ultimately about winning an argument and proving ourselves to be correct. Yes, we need to contend for the truth and be able to communicate it with clarity, but the attitude that comes along with it carries a huge portion of the message as well.
But the phrase in which I’m most interested in this passage is this: “Make the most of every opportunity.” This literally translated means to “buy up the time.”
If you knew a particular commodity was going to massively increase in price tomorrow – something like gasoline, bread, water, or whatever essential to life – you would buy as much of it as you could today. Time is a commodity that is passing away (and will someday be suddenly gone) and needs to be bought up as well.
Multiple times in Scripture it speaks of counting time. For example in Psalm 90, where it talks about the span of life being 70 or 80 years as the average, that passage finishes with the exhortation to “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” This is teaching about living wisely, meaning to develop skill in living.
So our mission in life is about understanding the time we have been given, the message we have to give, and the way we live our lives to communicate that message with both clarity of words and with an attractive skill in living our daily lives. It is essentially all about budgeting our way through life.