Taking the Time to Grow Spiritually

Introduction

  1. Text: Lk. 8:14.
  2. In 1967, Charles Hummel wrote a little book on time management for Christians and called it The Tyranny of the Urgent — its point was that it is dangerous to let the “urgent” crowd out the “important” in our lives.
  3. To say that life is getting more hectic is to say the obvious.
  4. But whatever problem it may present for others, the pace of life ought to be a critical concern for the Christian.
  5. If we become too busy for the activities God has designed for our personal spiritual growth, we are in serious jeopardy.
  6. What can we say about our need to take time for prayer, Bible study, and meditation on spiritual things?

I. It Does Take Time to Grow Spiritually

  1. It takes “quantity” time as well as “quality” time.
  2. At the very least, spiritual growth requires imbibing God’s word: “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation” (1 Pt. 2:2).
  3. This can hardly be done “on the run” — even in these days of portable media devices!

II. Time, Like Money, Must Be Managed Well to Achieve Spiritual Ends

  1. Time and money are things over which we must exercise good stewardship — and sometimes we fail to do so.
    1. When it comes to spiritual matters, there is a certain type of person who is generous with his money, but stingy with his time — he can’t “afford” the time it takes to pray, etc.
    2. In fact, our generosity with money may be an effort to compensate for our lack of time spent with the Lord in private devotion.
  2. As miserly as we can be with our time for spiritual growth, however, we can be downright prodigal in the use of it for anything else!
    1. “Prodigal” = recklessly wasteful, extravagant. From Latin prodigere (“to squander”).
    2. The Prodigal Son wasted what he had been given – Lk. 15:13.
  3. We may need to “reallocate our resources” in the use of our time.

III. Our Problem Is Often the Problem of Over-Commitment to Activities that Compete with Our Devotional Lives

  1. We spend much of our time under tremendous stress — and the reason is not hard to find.
    1. Your heart says “Don’t do it, your priorities will suffer” and your mouth says “Why sure, I’d be happy to do that.”
    2. Even with respect to good deeds, we can have so much “output” that there is not enough time for personal replenishment and spiritual growth.
  2. Parents, how often do our children see us in quiet devotion unto God?
  3. Not taking time for “maintenance” is always a risky, foolish thing — rarely is it possible to increase productivity by diminishing maintenance time.
    1. Yet we live as if we think we can go on indefinitely without spending time alone with God.
    2. Many of us are “running on empty” spiritually — and we are accidents waiting to happen.
  4. “But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her'” (Lk. 10:41,42).
  5. While we are “busy here and there” (1 Kgs. 20:40), our spiritual lives disappear.
  6. Burnout may be a danger for some — but many of us may be more likely to fizzle out.

IV. Jesus Is Our Perfect Example in the Matter of Private Devotion to His Heavenly Father

  1. None of us come close to being as pressed for time as the Lord – Mk. 3:20; 6:30-32.
  2. Yet Jesus made the necessary arrangements for time alone with the Father – Mt. 14:13,14,22-25; Mk. 1:35; Lk. 6:12.
  3. Apparently, this was Jesus’ habit – Lk. 5:16; Jn. 18:2.
  4. Jesus shows that, even when one is busy, it is possible to take the time that it takes to commune with God.

V. We Must Exercise the Discipline Necessary to Spend Time Alone with God

  1. We can learn to distinguish between the urgent and the important — and devote adequate time to the latter.
  2. We can, among other things, turn the TV off — TV is the No. 1 culprit robbing us of spiritual vitality.
  3. We can heed the words of the song “Take Time to be Holy” (W. D. Longstaf): “Speak oft with thy Lord . . . feed on His word . . . spend much time in secret with Jesus alone . . . be calm in thy soul.”
  4. We can build some quiet spaces somewhere in there amongst our many other activities.

Conclusion

  1. We won’t make progress if we don’t “give ourselves” to the spiritual disciplines: “Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all” (1 Tim. 4:15 NKJV).
  2. Time for spiritual growth must be more than a resolution we keep for a few days and then fall back into our old ways.
  3. We must do whatever it takes to put a calm center of spiritual devotion in the eye of the storm that is our lives.
  4. We need, in all of this, to ask the Lord’s help. Cf. Lk. 11:1.

Gary Henry – WordPoints.com

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