Squandering time is an everyday affair for most men. Quite honestly we obsess over distraction. We’ll get lost in Reddit, YouTube, and Twitter. Sports statistics at ESPN, crazy car factoids from Top Gear, and random Duck Commander trivia fills our brains. Many of us go dark right about now due to fantasy football. And I might even gander that some homes have fathers attached to a headset and a game system for a daily dose of time.
These are all diversions. And what you want to hear from me right now is, “It’s okay bro. Divert yourself. You need that.” But the reality is you’ve got too much diversion. So instead, I’m going to slather a thick spread of conviction through the direct words of Jonathan Edwards in his Miscellanies “The Importance and Advantage of a Thorough Knowledge of Divine Truth.” He says:
“Some diversion is doubtless lawful, but Christians spend so much of their time, so many long evenings, in no other conversation than that which tends to divert and amuse, if nothing worse, is a sinful way of spending time, and tends to poverty of soul at least, if not to outward poverty.
So substitute “conversation” for everything else in that first paragraph, even fill in the blank with that thing I didn’t cover that most diverts you. What are you to do? What am I to do? I mean that list didn’t come haphazard. I too am guilty of diversion.
You and I have life-long habits and interests that we’ve fostered, and we can’t just undo our interests overnight or in one article and replace them with others. But there is a better way forward that will rescue us from frittering off our minuscule lives on worthless diversions.
Let’s move forward with a positive focus on redeeming our time by looking at how we foster our affections. When we foster the right affections, we redeem our time towards the right focus.
Foster Godward Affections
Let’s just get our number one priority straight and then consider how to arrive at redeeming our time so that we are focused on that priority. Our number one priority is to glorify and enjoy God (1 Cor. 10:31). That’s the end for which the world was created. So how do we make the most of our time in order to do that?
If you’re going to redeem your time from diversion, you’ll need to foster Godward affections. You’ll need to trade your affections towards diversion for affections towards God.
How did you foster affection for Top Gear, gaming, football, or any other diversion? It captured your interest. You found it desirable. You gave your time to it, and you vigorously studied it. You developed a habit of affection for that diversion.
Redeeming your time from diversion involves refocusing your interests and habits. You need to prioritize means of grace that foster affections for God. Developing affection for prayer, Scripture, and fellowship all lead to stirring affections for God.
Ultimately, these are kindling that only the Holy Spirit sparks into divine love. But you’re responsible for gathering that kindling and putting it in place before the Holy Spirit will spark that flame.
That’s Easy to Say, Hard to Do
Sure, I just gave you the simplistic answer.
“Dude, just pray and read your Bible. Then you’ll redeem your time.”
That’s probably pretty much what you just heard. Don’t worry. I’m not going to be that trite. I know it’s easy to say, hard to do.
That’s why I have one suggestion for you. You see there are different types of kindling. Prayer and the Bible are one kind of kindling. They are like small sticks. Fellowship is another kind. It’s like leaves, newspaper, or straw. It’ll spark first and then enflame the rest of the kindling in order to burst into a firey inferno of Godward affection.
So I’m not even going to get into prayer and reading the Word here. Rather, let’s focus on how fellowship functions as kindling for Godward affections that redeem your time from diversion.
After all, think about that Edwards quote again. The diversion was amusing conversation with friends. Most of our diversions are done in community. You’re playing fantasy football and on Xbox connect with your bros. You’re also talking sports, Top Gear, and Duck Dynasty with them as well.
People who are diverted are with diverted people. Likewise, people who redeem their time with Godward affections will be with Godwardly affectionate people.
Who You Are With
For the most part, whom you are with determines your affections. That’s why if you’re a father, you need to get after it and develop those affections in yourself and your son(s) now. We’re always attracted to what we’ve been shown as being attractive.
My son loves Spiderman for a reason. He also loves Jesus, the Bible, and musical worship for a reason. He’s seen my affections for all of those showcased throughout his brief three years. He’s also been in the habit of fellowshipping with me over them. Our fellowship – where he sees me praying and reading the Bible – is that bed of fluffy kindling just waiting for a spark. He and I prioritize quality time for developing those other affections.
If you wish to develop Godward affections that redeem your time from diversion, you need to surround yourself with those who express a zeal for Godward affections; it’s the starting point.
Now, you may not have a father that has Godward affections. In fact, God might choose to use you as a stimulus of Godward affections in your father. If that’s you, then know I understand. Instead, you are privileged to seek after other men to be spiritual fathers for you (1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:2; Titus 1:4).
Look for mature men in your church that redeem their time from diversion. Find men that are excited about the Lord, ministry, and glorifying God, and spend as much time with them as possible. Their affections will enflame your affections; after while, you will stir one another to love and good works (Heb. 10:24).
Amplify Godward Affections
As your affections enlarge for God, then you want to be that person for others. Let your Godward affections shine for others so that they see and glorify God (Matt 5:16). Doing this will in turn stimulate your affections for the Word and prayer as well.
We can’t do the Christian life solo; we need fellowship with others in the Church because we amplify Godward affections together to a greater degree than we do individually. That fellowship then provides accountability for our time.
I know this probably seems odd. Likely, you thought you were going to get a list of things to do and not to do, along with ways to protect your time from certain temptations. But the reality is that your practices won’t change unless your affections first change. No safeguards help until Godward affections are stirred. This, friends, is the best way to achieve the goal of redeeming your time from diversion.
Joey Cochran, a graduate of Dallas Seminary, is a church planting intern at Redeemer Fellowship in St. Charles, Illinois under the supervision of Pastor Joe Thorn. Follow him at jtcochran.com or @joeycochran.
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