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Time & Money for the Glory of God

by Blake & Kristen McGuckin


What does it mean to give your time to God? Is it a matter of quantity? Is it a matter of filling time in order to fulfill a religious requirement? What is the standard by which we determine a good usage of time?

It is the same standard that we use for everything in our Christian life and practice. What does the Scripture say? 

Paul dictates in Ephesians 5:15-16: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”

The author of Ecclesiastes informs in Ecclesiastes 8:6 that “there is a time and a way for everything, though man’s trouble lies on him.”

We are told by James: “Come now you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and trade there and make a profit’” – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

The Psalmist states in Psalms 144:4: “Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.”

How are we to live in light of what these passages of Scripture are teaching? What is the application to how we spend our time in modern day America?

I pose one quite simple application: watch how you spend your time. Be careful to use your time to cultivate godliness. We all have spare time, more than we think, and we must ponder how we are using this time. It might be helpful to consider the following chart:
This chart assumes that in a week a given individual sleeps 8 hours a night (the most commonly recommended amount), spends 7 hours on fitness related activities, spends 40 hours at work, 14 hours consuming meals, 7 hours on sacred activities, such as reading the Bible, attending church, engaging in fellowship, and a whopping 35.25 hours on recreation activities (taken from the average amount of tv an American watches in a week). This chart is certainly imperfect, but the goal is to point out how little time is spent in the sacred and how much time is reserved for the common. If you are wondering why your spiritual growth seems stunted, look at where your fleeting life is going. Look at how much time you devote to things without significance and how you exchange the glory of beholding Christ for the beholding of the banal1. 

John Piper has a classic discourse called “Don’t Waste Your Life,” where he tells two stories. One is the story of a missionary woman who never married and died at the hands of the people she went to minister to. The other is the story of a couple who retired early and resolved to spend their days collecting sea shells. He pointed out that the tragedy was not the woman killed for testifying about Christ, but the couple who chose to waste their lives in trivial pursuits. If we as Christians are indeed awaiting this weight of glory beyond all comparison, how can we live in triteness? How could we not strive to adorn the Gospel in our workplaces, in our homes, in our dealings both outside and inside the church? And how are we supposed to do so, when so much of our time is spent being catechized by the world or even enjoying creation to the exclusion of enjoying the clearest revelation of Christ: the Holy Scriptures? 

Brothers and sisters, how are we to live knowing that we have access to divine wisdom and choose tawdry entertainment over it? Sure, the heavens declare the glory of God and the earth proclaims his handiwork – the Psalmist writes with great fervor in describing the beauty of all there is around us. There is certainly value in enjoying God’s good creation, in working in and around one’s home, in spending time with loved ones and even by oneself enjoying hiking, fishing, hunting, all manner of activities. These are not without worth; they are wonderful gifts from our Father who dwells in heaven. Yet… what amount of time is being taken up by these activities as opposed to studying the Scriptures, to sitting under preaching, to worshipping with your local body, to engaging in Gospel-centered fellowship, to adorning the Gospel through serving your church and your community? Do you use your time in a manner that accords with Scripture? Does it look more like the chart above? Be honest in your self-examination. Are you apathetic? Are you distracted? Are you slothful? Be encouraged out of your stupor by these words of Paul: “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” 

Knowing that you have been chosen from the foundation of the world to be saved in Christ for the good works that he has prepared beforehand, walk with much zeal and much fervency of spirit, dear Christian. There is much to be in awe of walking in the clearest expression we have of the glory of God; strive to spend more of your time there and less time with what is quickly passing away. You won’t regret it; in fact, as you focus on the things of the world to come, you’ll regret how much time you spent with lesser things. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, our problem is not so much that we desire, but that we desire too little. God gives wonderful gifts, temporal and eternal. Fixate on the eternal; live like Paul did with eyes ever set on fighting the good fight of the faith.


Regarding what the Scripture says about money, there are many passages that can be referred to. We will list a few below like we did with the subject of time:

“But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” 1 Timothy  6:9

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are to come upon you! Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation and the rich in his humiliation, for like a flower of the grass he will fade away. James 5:1; James 1:9-10

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love  the other. Or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 4:24

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

“The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts.” 1 Samuel 2:7

“Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the LORD’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.” Proverbs 30:8b-9

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” 1 Timothy 6:10

What does a survey of these verses reveal? I would posit they display the evils of ambition and the blessing of being rich towards God. The fruit of ambition is enumerated above with great clarity: it results in an existence that is ultimately meaningless, because we chase after an idol and are thereby pierced with many pangs. The curse of those who worship any idol is that “those who worship them become like them” i.e. dull and lifeless. Money does not grant life; the end of all money is destruction – those who chase after it are chasing the same end. It is often the case in American Christianity that men and women are encouraged to chase after wealth in order to be rich towards God. Such foolish advice may be well-intentioned, but it fails to understand the clear teaching of Scripture that seeking money is not a neutral activity – it is always from a stance of viewing money as an end, even if the self-deceived would declare it is not. What are we to do then, in a culture where most of us are so wealthy compared with people all around the world and with those in antiquity? We are to do what Christ has intoned – to “make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails, they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.” We give richly towards God knowing that when we bless other believers with the material wealth we have been given, we are inheritors of eternal wealth, for we display that we are God’s own, when we are willing to part with what he has given us. We are generous to those who have not, that they might be filled with the good things of this world and that we might tell them about the ultimately satisfying bread of life. 

But, in a debt-driven culture, this type of lifestyle seems more like an ideal than like an actually achievable end. We are controlled not only by the American ideal but also by the debts we have incurred to achieve that ideal. We are subjugated by the need to work to make money to support lifestyles that go beyond what would have been deemed livable in the New Testament to what would have been considered luxurious. We continue to work those jobs in order to break out of debt only to incur more debt.

But, Christian, this is not the way to glorify God with your money. In fact, it’s quite simple. Be content with what you have. Work hard to make a surplus to help those in need. Save for the future, and do not recklessly indulge now. Make a budget and stick to it to accomplish these ends. Let’s say you live off $5,000 a month of income and your expenses can be represented in the following chart.
After all your expenses, you have $500 left for charity as seen above in the chart. Now, that’s not the mentality that ought to be followed – you ought to give first, but this was an exercise to show you how much you could give while also saving. This being said, God called the Israelites to sacrifice the first fruits of their produce and livestock in the Levitical offerings – shall we do any less as believers? The Israelites were not all part of the Covenant of Grace, yet all of them took part in this. Shall not believers as a part of the Covenant of Grace take part in giving the first part of what we receive in common grace? There is a higher standard for us, and the standard is: give abundantly, because you have been given abundantly. The same principle applies as in that of forgiveness, just as those who are forgiven little, forgive little, and just as those who are forgiven much, forgive much, so we are also given abundantly than all that we ask or think by our heavenly Father in heaven; we ought to be the most generous people on the planet in light of this. 

So here it is plain and simple: glorify God with your finances by first getting out of debt through lowering your own expectations. Work hard at your job and give the surplus to those in need, while also being responsible to take care of your own family. We have been given so much; let us then express that through being rich towards God and not desiring after riches ourselves.

Time & Money for the Glory of God

There are so many similarities when it comes to time and money, but ultimately, that’s where you’ll find your treasure. Are you going to find your treasure in Christ? Or will you find treasure in this world?

I encourage you to do this exercise today and evaluate your treasure. There’s an old business saying that says “follow the money.” And in this case I guarantee you that we can find your heart, if we simply follow your time and your money.

11 I originally came across this concept of “beholding” while listening to “Ask Pastor John”. You can find the episode on Youtube entitled “We Become Like the Videos We Behold.”

 All Scripture references are taken from the English Standard Version of the Bible published in 2001 by Crossway.

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