In today’s busy world, time feels like an increasingly scarce resource. We all struggle to balance work, family, relationships, rest, and pursuing our passions. No wonder so many wonder – what does the Bible say about managing our limited time effectively?
If you’re short on time, here’s the key Bible verse on time management: “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). This article will explore principles and examples from Scripture to guide you.
We’ll cover biblical wisdom on setting priorities, being focused and intentional with our time, finding balance between work and rest, and ultimately stewarding the gift of time for God’s glory and to love others well.
The Value and Shortness of Time
Our Days are Numbered
The Bible teaches that our time on earth is limited and short. As Psalm 90:10 (ESV) says, “The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.”
Our days are numbered by God, and we do not know when our last day will come. As James 4:14 reminds us, we are like a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. This is a sobering reality, and it should motivate us to make the most of the time God has given us.
Time is a Gift from God
Because our days are numbered, the time we have is an invaluable gift from God. Every day and hour is an opportunity to love God and serve others. Ephesians 5:16 instructs us to “make the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” Time is a resource and currency that God has entrusted to us.
We can choose to use it wisely for God’s glory or waste it on meaningless pursuits. As Christian stewardship expert Randy Alcorn (epm.org) explains, “Time is far more valuable than money because you can make more money, but you can’t make more time.”
Since time is short and precious, we should follow Paul’s example and “make it our aim to please the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:9).
Making the Most of Our Time
The Bible gives us many practical principles for managing our time wisely. These include setting priorities based on God’s will (Matthew 6:33), planning ahead (Luke 14:28), being diligent and avoiding laziness (Proverbs 13:4), focusing on each task at hand rather than worrying about the future (Matthew 6:34), and redeeming our time for good purposes (Ephesians 5:16).
Most importantly, we must spend time in God’s Word and prayer each day, building our relationship with Christ, which should be our highest daily priority (Matthew 6:5-13). By following biblical principles, we can glorify God and make the most of our limited days.
Though life is short, what we do with the time God gives us, however long or short, can echo into eternity.
Setting Priorities and Planning Ahead
Putting God First
The Bible emphasizes putting God first in everything we do (Matthew 6:33). This means making time for prayer, Bible reading, and fellowship with other believers. Setting aside quiet time each morning to invite God into our day and seek His guidance for priorities aligns our schedules with His perfect will.
Planning ahead allows us to set aside this sacred time and protect it from other demands. For example, scheduling an early morning prayer walk prevents distractions from work and family that often encroach later in the day.
Advanced planning demonstrates putting God first instead of fitting Him in when convenient.
In addition to setting priorities like time with God, we must be intentional about other responsibilities. The Bible warns against laziness and encourages diligence and wise use of time (Proverbs 6:6-11).
Being intentional applies to work, relationships, health, recreation, and rest. For instance, scheduling date nights ensures quality time with a spouse despite busy seasons. Meal prepping frees up time for exercise critical to health.
Blocking off weekends for rest restores energy for the upcoming week.
Routines and calendars allow us to plan ahead so important aspects of life happen by design rather than default. Intentionally scheduling priorities prevents less significant things from crowding out what matters most.
Planning and Goal Setting
Writing down goals and action plans is a powerful tool for focused time management. According to a study by Dominican University, people who write down goals are 42% more likely to achieve them.
For major life goals, create 1-3 year and 6-10 year plans with steps for getting there. Break them down into monthly and weekly tasks to chip away. Use online calendars or paper planners to schedule action items and benchmark mini-milestones.
Likewise, map out daily to-do lists to maximize productivity. Rank items by importance and tackle top priorities first. Schedule blocks of time for big tasks to avoid distraction.
The Bible endorses planning and goal setting, comparing it to counting the cost before building a tower (Luke 14:28). Advance planning brings order and direction to days that can easily get consumed by the urgent.
Diligence, Focus and Avoiding Distractions
Working Hard and Staying Focused
The Bible encourages diligence and focus in all areas of life. Proverbs 10:4 says, “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.” Being diligent and working hard with focus pleases God and leads to success (Colossians 3:23).
Jesus told a parable about servants who were given resources to invest while their master was away. The ones who worked diligently and focused on multiplying their talents were rewarded, while the lazy servant who did nothing was punished (Matthew 25:14-30).
God wants us to work heartily for His glory.
To stay focused, it’s important to prioritize the most important tasks and avoid distractions (1 Corinthians 7:35). Making to-do lists and schedules can aid focus. Most importantly, we need to start each day with prayer, asking God for strength and diligence to complete the work He has for us (Proverbs 16:3).
Distractions like social media, texting, unplanned interruptions, disorganization, and poor time management can severely limit productivity. To get things done, we need to minimize distractions.
A helpful tip is to set aside specific times for communication and social media, rather than having them on all day long. Store devices like cell phones out of sight and turn off notifications during important work. Close distracting tabs on your computer. Create an organized, clutter-free workspace.
Politely ask people not to interrupt focused work time. By reducing distractions, you’ll be amazed at how much more can be accomplished (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12).
Saying No to Less Important Things
“The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty” (Proverbs 27:12). Having proper priorities sometimes requires saying “no” to less important things in order to focus time and energy on what matters most.
Saying no can be difficult, especially when we want to please others or over-commit ourselves. However, in order to be good stewards of the time God has given us, we must learn to decline additional responsibilities when our plates are already full (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).
The Bible exhorts us to “make the most of every opportunity” (Ephesians 5:16). Saying no to things like unused social invitations, extra projects, and time wasters opens up time that can be devoted to priorities like building relationships, accomplishing goals, and enjoying rest.
Balance Between Work and Rest
God Rested and So Should We
The Bible teaches that even God rested after His work of creation (Genesis 2:2). As human beings made in God’s image, we also need rest. Getting adequate rest helps us be refreshed, focused, and productive in our work.
According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics survey, employed adults sleep just under 7 hours per weekday on average. However, the National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep per night for adults.
Without enough rest, we risk facing negative consequences like burnout, impaired concentration, accidents, and health issues.
In addition to daily rest, God also instituted a weekly day of rest known as the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8). Setting aside a full day each week to abstain from work and focus on spiritual rejuvenation is a key biblical principle.
Practicing a weekly Sabbath allows our minds, bodies and spirits to be refreshed and reminds us that our worth is not defined just by our work output. In our modern 24/7 globally connected economy, observing true Sabbath rest can be challenging.
However, studies show there are significant mental, emotional and even physical benefits to unplugging from work obligations for a full 24 hours each week.
The Bible encourages us to find enjoyment and happiness in this earthly life despite its trials and troubles (Ecclesiastes 8:15). Part of living a balanced life is making time for leisure activities like hobbies, relationships, experiences and relaxation.
Scheduling in fun and laughter balances out stressful responsibilities and gives us a taste of the joy we will experience fully in heaven. Wise time management should allocate periods for both productive work and lighthearted pleasure.
The old adage reminds us: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
Stewarding Time as Service to God
Using Time to Love Others
We can use our time on earth to selflessly serve and show love to others, which is a way to honor God (Matthew 25:40). For example, we could visit an elderly neighbor, volunteer at a soup kitchen, or help a overwhelmed mom by babysitting her kids.
Even simple acts like having a listening ear for someone going through troubles or preparing a meal for a sick friend are ways to use time as an act of service and love.
Making the Most of Every Opportunity
The Bible tells us to make the most of every opportunity (Ephesians 5:16). This means using our limited time wisely to complete the good works God has prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10). For instance, we could use lunch breaks for quick Bible study or listen to sermons during long commutes.
We can also look for ways to redeem mundane tasks – maybe we do chores while praying or politely share our faith with store clerks. The key is staying alert to chances to honor God.
Living on Borrowed Time
Our days on earth are numbered (Psalm 139:16). We don’t know when our last will be, so we need to make each one count (James 4:14). An eternal perspective changes how we spend time – we invest more in spiritual things instead of earthly matters.
For example, we could read Scripture before checking social media or have family devotions before movie nights. Living intentionally now will lead to eternal dividends. As one scholar said, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift – that’s why they call it present.”
Let’s live presently for our Provider.
Time is one of our most precious resources, and Scripture offers much wisdom on making the most if it. By keeping eternity in mind, setting priorities, minimizing distractions, planning ahead, working diligently yet resting well, and ultimately seeing our time as a gift from God to serve others, we can walk wisely and make the most of every moment.
In the busyness of life, reflect often on what matters most and align how you spend your days accordingly. May God give us wisdom as we seek to steward this gift of time for His glory.