A couple hundred years ago, Benjamin Franklin’s advice to young tradesmen was “time is money.” He was referring to the time it takes to perfect a skill and the reward of investing in your business. This man’s words carry weight and wisdom considering a few of his job titles include author, politician and scientist. Are his words still relevant today? How true are they and how should we heed this advice as Christians?
No matter what our occupation we typically get out of it what we put into it. The longer we’re at our job the better we become and the more passionate we are the more time we’re willing to put in. Claude Monet didn’t spend fifteen minutes on Water Lilies and Harper Lee didn’t write How to Kill a Mockingbird in a week. Success isn’t accomplished without sweat, tears and a whole lot of invested time.
The American Dream
Christian or not, American society places an intense pressure on its citizens to work. The “American Dream” is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but the pursuit of happiness has become an impossible goal to reach. The unspoken, difficult standard includes a great job that can afford a picket fence and provide for two and a half kids, but where is the time to fix the broken fence or spend with those two and a half kids when you’re pulling a 10-hour shift at the office?
Balancing work and family time seems to be the number one stress for American families. Almost daily we hear about couples divorcing because he was a “slave to his job” or she “loved her career more than our family.” We must work for the wellbeing of our family. So what are we to do? As Christians we need the right attitude and perspective on work.
The Parable of the Bags of Gold
The Parable of the Bags of Gold is in Matthew 25. It’s a parable about getting into the kingdom of heaven. The story consists of a man and his three servants. The man gave five bags of gold to one, two to another and one to the last. The first servant doubled his gold to to 10 bags. The servant with two bags gained another. But the last servant hid his bag because he was afraid. The last servant was deemed worthless and thrown into the darkness. He did not use what God gave him!
Work is not just to provide for our family, but to spread the love of Christ. When you know the gospel and you’re not interacting with anyone, you’re not being a good Christian. Work can be stressful and difficult, but our co-workers should notice there’s something different about us by how we handle those situations.
A Time for Everything
Genesis 2:2 says, “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” God made a beautiful universe in six days and set an example to rest. Pushing yourself too hard all the time burns you out. Remember to give yourself time for family and relaxation.
Ecclesiastes 3 says that, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens . . . .” Does this mean a time to work? Yes. Does this mean a time to turn off the computer? Yes. A time to sit on the couch with your family? Yes. In verse nine it goes on to say, “What do workers gain from their toil?” Aren’t there days when you’re working your hardest and it feels like it doesn’t matter? Verses 10-13 provide us comfort: “I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.” God programmed the sense of accomplishment in us from the beginning. He knows and sees how hard we work so He wants to give us joy and rest.
The Bible tells us there is a time for everything. So what should time be to us? Is time money? It can be. When you’re working minimum wage at an hourly rate it’s easy to think that’s all time is. Even if you’re on salary it can be hard to make it out of the office. But time is family. Time is rest. Time is cleaning, laundry, writing, reading and everything in between and more. And when time is money, put it away when the time is done because we shouldn’t store treasure on earth (see Matthew 6:20). Benjamin Franklin was only partially right, time is so much more than money!
What are your thoughts on time and money? Leave a comment!