We live in an instant age. I have not yet reached my fourth decade of life, but I remember a time when it was necessary to wait until the evening newscast to receive information about the significant events that transpired in the world while I was at school and my parents at work. Newspapers were read to inform about other happenings that one would not have access to otherwise without the printed page. To say things have radically changed is an understatement. With the advent of the information superhighway (an archaic term used when the internet was in its infancy) and 24-hour news channels, we are bombarded with information from every corner of the globe within minutes of it occurring. We communicate rapidly with each other with text messages, tweets, snapchats, Facebook messages, and email. No one wants to take the trouble or time to call, and actually writing or typing out a letter and mailing it is a practice that has gone the way of the Dodo bird.
This “instantness” is not just reserved for communication but has infiltrated almost every facet of our lives. TV dinners can be popped in the microwave and zapped to cooked perfection in a matter of minutes. Of course, there are even worse examples of this in the culinary world. Instant coffee and instant mashed potatoes are both abominations that the human palette should never be forced to endure. You may enjoy these foods, but I have a strong displeasure toward them and much prefer the genuine items, even if they take more time and effort to prepare.
“I want it and I want it now!” is the attitude of today. Get rich quick schemes, lose weight with just 90 seconds of exercise a day, or use this supplement and rejuvenate your skin overnight are more examples of how we want things instantly without waiting or putting forth any strenuous effort. Chances are that many who clicked to read this article have already stopped reading because it would take too much time to read and too much effort to think and consider these words in their estimation.
Sadly, some Christians think that growing spiritually will be a quick and easy process. I have noticed an increase in devotional books, blog posts, and articles suggesting that just by spending a few minutes, faith will grow and character will be refined. Don’t get me wrong. Anytime we spend reading the Bible, praying to our Heavenly Father, or trying to serve Christ is time well spent if we are doing it with the right motivation and according to His Word. However, I am troubled by the idea that some might think they can get “instant holiness” by these short and sporadic efforts.
In 1882 William Longstaff penned these marvelous words:
Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord; Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word. Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak, Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.
Take time to be holy, the world rushes on; Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone. By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be; Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.
Take time to be holy, let Him be thy Guide; And run not before Him, whatever betide. In joy or in sorrow, still follow the Lord, And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.
Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul, Each thought and each motive beneath His control. Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love, Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.
We cannot make time, but we can and must take time to be holy. Holy means set apart, and we should set apart time to grow as God directs. I am not going to try to legislate and say you must do this as soon as you rise in the morning or right before you retire to sleep each night. My schedule is always unpredictable and sometimes I spend time with God in prayer and study in the morning, but sometimes that has to be postponed until the evening. Sometimes, I can do it in the middle of the day. So, use whatever opportunity you are given and use it to read God’s Word, to pray fervently, to meditate deeply on His truth, or to follow the example of Jesus in serving others. Isn’t that what Ephesians 5:16 means when Paul instructs: “redeeming or making the best use of the time.”
I know one Christian who reads his Bible during his lunch and break times at work. The mornings are hectic as he tries to get to work and, in the evening, he is tired and has farm duties that need his attention, but he makes time to read Scripture during the day and this blesses him immensely. He supplements these times with further study on days off and weekends, because he is interested in maturing spiritually and understands it will not happen instantly. A few minutes of reading in the morning or a quick prayer at night before sleep beats nothing, but please do not think that these will enable you to become all that God desires. Life is busy and crazy for all of us and the demands of living in the 21st century will always mean that certain things will not be accomplished daily, but we should not allow spiritual matters to always be what we neglect in favor of doing things that will not matter eternally.
Take time to be holy! If you are not sure where or how to start, ask a mature Christian what schedule they follow and what they might suggest. Petition God in prayer to help you, and fall in love with reading and meditating on His Word. Time spent with God is time that is never wasted.