Christian Time Management

“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Colossians 4:2–6)
The proliferation of books on Time Management proves that people generally want to make the best use of their time by squeezing as much productivity as possible out of every second. There are over 80,000 books on Time Management available through Amazon. One book, entitled, Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day, was described as a book that is "not about crushing your to-do list, optimizing every hour, or maximizing personal productivity. It's about rethinking the defaults of constant busyness and distraction so you can focus on what matters every day." As followers of Jesus, we would be wise to make time—to make the best use of time so that we can focus on what matters every day.

In Colossians 4:2-6, the apostle Paul provided some final instructions for the believers in Colossae. After showing them how their identity in Christ should affect them personally, in the church, in the home, and in the workplace, Paul directed them to think differently about how they spend the time they had been given. Paul's instructions on time management were not unique to the believers in Colossae—he provided similar instruction to believers in Corinth (1 Cor. 7:29) and Ephesus (Eph. 5:15-16). Paul's point was simple, use the time you have been given to make a difference (4:5b). The question is, how do disciples of Jesus make the best use of our time?

Believers Must Commit to Prayer (vs.2-4)

Verse two opens with a command that applies to every believer—Christians must always be devoted to and busily engaged in the discipline of prayer. We are to continually pray and continually be "watchful in it with thanksgiving." This is the fifth time Paul mentioned gratitude in this letter (1:12, 2:6, 3:15, 3:17). Clearly, Paul wanted his readers to know that appreciation must permeate the lives of those in Christ—and God has given us every reason to be grateful.  

Paul desperately wanted more opportunities to proclaim the gospel so more churches could be planted. Not only do we see the command to "continue steadfastly in prayer," but the Colossians were told to "pray…that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ." Paul was not concerned about his own safety. In fact, Paul wrote Colossian while in prison for preaching the gospel. Still, he was so committed to the mission that he wanted believers to pray for additional opportunities to use the time he had to make Christ known.  

As followers of Christ, we also continually pray for opportunities to share the gospel personally and for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Furthermore, we should pray for the ability to present the gospel clearly, so those who hear will understand the glorious message of salvation by grace through faith in the crucified and risen Savior. We have been given the task to make disciples by the One who has complete authority. We pray about many things, but one of the things we must pray for is the gospel's advance.

Believers Must Commit to Point People to Jesus (vs. 5-6)

A second command is issued in verse five—Christians must always behave consistently with our life in Christ. In other words, the way we live gives credibility to the message we proclaim. If we say we are disciples of Jesus, but our life does not resemble the life of Christ, outsiders (unbelievers) will have no reason to believe our claim—or the gospel for that matter—is true. Walking in wisdom requires us to make the best use of our time, and one of the ways we best use our time is through our speech.

Words are powerful. The Scripture teaches that words can heal or hurt, build up or tear down. Disciples of Jesus should use gracious words. The things we say should be spiritual, thoughtful, kind, purposeful, gentle, truthful, and loving. Paul told the Ephesians, "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." (Eph. 4:29)

The speech of a believer should influence those who hear and, for some, listening to the truth of God's Word will not always be a pleasing experience. Not only is our speech to be gracious, but it must also be effective, and sometimes—even when we speak the truth in love—it will sting. Salt will sting if it's applied to an open wound. Salt will also preserve and prevent infection and corruption.  

A debate raging in the Twitterverse among prominent evangelicals about the need to be winsome. For many in that sphere, being winsome is not being offensive, and not being offensive means that we must always strike the right "tone." However, the truth of the gospel stings regardless of the "tone" employed by the speaker. Jesus addressed the Pharisees as hypocrites, a generation of vipers, blind guides, and whitewashed tombs. Paul called the believers in Galatia foolish. Here's the point: one of the ways we can make the best use of our time is by speaking impactful and compelling words.

Brothers and Sisters, we have been made different by Jesus, and we must use the time we have to make a difference. If we are going to make the best use of time, we must be committed to prayer and pointing people to Jesus with our actions and words.