As we all have seen over the past few weeks, life as we know it has come to a screeching halt. Events have been canceled, schools are moving to online learning, social distancing is drastically changing interactions, and many people are working from home or have lost their jobs. It feels like we have, as a nation, been put in timeout and sent to our rooms (houses). The American culture is so focused and centered around time. We get up, go through a daily routine, rest, and repeat all centered around the basis of time and schedules. Whether you are working in the pandemic or not, our schedule and routines have been impacted. The majority of Americans are finding themselves with extra time on their hands. It's very easy to fall into the entrapment of Satan and idolatry during times such as these. Many have fallen into the trap of slothfulness and laziness. The truth is, when we wake up each morning, it is a gift of God to yet draw breath.
We are given time by God. How do we use that time? Do we use our time to advance Christ's kingdom or do we squander it for selfish gain? is it wrong to partake in leisurely activities? Absolutely not. is it easy for leisure to become an idol? Absolutely. The moment we lost our sense of purpose and focus, it is very easy to veer off the rails. We cannot waste the time the Lord has given to us. There has been nothing more sobering than knowing that there are thousands of people dying in hospitals alone without loved ones, unceremoniously thrown in a refrigeration truck, and spending an eternity apart from Christ. Life is so frail and fleeting. Now more than ever we as followers of Christ need to "wake up." Let us use the time God has given us to share the gospel and serve Christ.
As I reflect on the Apostle Paul's life, I am encouraged by his letter to the church in Rome. The church was plagued with indescribable persecution and hardship. The believers in Rome were certainly faced with a sobering reality. However, Paul wrote to them with a sense of urgency. In Romans 13, Paul addresses three major items. The first is how a Christian should submit to government (v. 1-7). The second is a challenge to fulfill the law of Christ by "loving your neighbor" (8-10). The last third of the chapter we will focus on.
"11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed."
In this Paul gives a sense of urgency. Jesus has risen! Every day is another day closer to salvation. Paul is referring to "salvation" as a process. We are justified, sanctified, and then completed at the glorification. In Philippians 1:6 Paul writes, "being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." Paul is urging the brethren to make good use of the time given to them. Every day we are one step closer to the day we will meet Christ. Either we are going to Him through physical death or He is coming to us at the end of the age. Regardless, we will meet Him. Do we act like it? Do we move with purpose and urgency? Are we asleep?
"12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light."
Again, Paul continues to write with a sense of urgency. The time is now! Nighttime is over and Christ has risen from the grave. It's time to live like it! We need to remove our old nature given over to the flesh and put on the armor of Light. We see this in greater detail in Ephesians 6. Are we ready for battle? How are we using our time?
"13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy."
Culturally, Paul is stating that many of these sins happen in the evening. People usually are finished with the workday, and with leisure time comes the misuse of that time. We must live in the light of day. There's no time to give ourselves over to sin and selfish gain.
"14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts."
I love the imagery Paul uses in this verse. If we are fully satisfied through Christ, there is no room for the flesh. Do we give flesh a military foothold or stronghold in our lives? Are we using our time to satisfy the flesh or live for Christ?
My prayer is during this time of crisis and global pandemic we would move with a sense of urgency. The time is now! We must consider how we are using our time. What things need to go? How can I use this time to serve Maybe it is sending a letter of encouragement. Perhaps it is sending a care package with the gospel message to someone in need. Let us think about ways we can use our time to effectively serve Christ.