Each of us value time differently, depending on what or who we value. This high holiday season has been one of great reflection personally. I’ve been grieved to be honest. While I could lament over the reasons, which are many, it seems more appropriate to allow the counsel of Scripture to adjust our hearts once again.
In Luke 10:41-42 we read, “Martha, Martha, you are fretting and worrying about so many things! But there is only one thing that is essential. Mary has chosen the right thing, and it won’t be taken from her.”
All of us can place ourselves in Martha’s position? I know I could insert my names into the correction offered by Yeshua/Jesus. How about you? What is Yeshua saying to Martha’s frenetic, even distracted situation and lifestyle? Mary has chosen the good portion – what is essential – but Martha chose something else.
The ethics of time.
We live in an age of busyness. We are all busy, busy, busy, and we never seem to have enough time. We run, and run, but never finish. Even a marathon has a finish-line. What does this say about us? Professor Bruce Hindmarsh calls busyness “moral laziness.” This sounds rather harsh, but give attention to his reasoning,
“Busyness is moral laziness because it is often a statement of our self-importance and our excuse to be inattentive to people . . . But God has given us just enough time to do what we need to do moment by moment to respond to him. And his grace is there; it is eternally present. Every moment is a sacrament where time touches eternity and there is exactly enough time to do what God has called us to do.”
The ethic of stopping.
Everyone is busy, and there are often good reasons to be busy: but who are we living for? who are we testifying to? and who is the author of our days? The ethic of stopping has to do with the answer to the preceding questions. According to Professor Hindmarsh’s reasoning, time has an ethical, as well as, spiritual value to it. This begs the question? Is the Lord concerned with how His people spend their time? According to Leviticus 23, the answer is yes – yes, a thousand times yes!
Leviticus 23 details the appointed times of the Lord. Beginning with Passover in the Spring, and ending with Sukkot in the Fall, the seasons of the Lord show us how to make time holy – or set apart. These seasons are called – מוֹעֲדִים – often translated as “appointed times” or “designated time.” These “designated times” can be seasons of rest, joy, or even times of atonement.
Why does the Lord designate time?
The Torah of Moses created distinctions on numerous levels; but these distinctions were not to cause us to become arrogant or haughty, rather, to demonstrate who the Lord of our life is. The Lord, by the Torah, not only provides a normative standard for our conduct – but also for our time. Why? The appointed times of the Lord are called “Sabbaths,” or times to rest from a regular busyness. How can time become an ethical issue?
It’s all ethics to me…
First, that the Lord created “designated time” demonstrates that rest is an ethical issue – why – because the Lord Himself rested. We find an ethical triad to His appointed times. The normative standard of the appointed times is a call to rest. The existential motive is our response in obedience to His standard to rest by resting ourselves. Finally, the teleological witness is our response by creating an environment where others can rest.
מוֹעֲדִים, or “appointed times,” comes from the verb root, עֵד, meaning “witness.” What is it that we are a “witness” of by honoring the Lord’s appointed times? The Sovereignty of the Living God. Still, this root, עֵד, also tells us how we demonstrate this witness:
1) In the עֵדָה, or in the “congregation;” 2) as we sanctify our “time” in response to the Lord; 3) with our עֵדוּת, or “testimony” of who He is, and what He has done for us.
We find, then, that our witness is a triad: a) time, b) assembly, c) and testimony; and each of these speak to life itself.
This was the heart of the correction that Yeshua gave Martha: How are you spending your time? Who are you honoring with your time? Mary chose the good portion – what is essential – but Martha chose something else:
Martha was trying to demonstrate how important and how essential she was.
Mary demonstrated how important and how essential Yeshua is.
How we spend our time, and how we designate our time also reveals something of vital importance – who we are betrothed to. The root עֵד, referenced above, can be conjugated into another verb יָעַד, meaning “to betroth.” How we spend our time shows who we are betrothed to – whether honoring his times and seasons, or pausing just to sit in the quiet with the Lord – the appointed times demonstrate His love and faithfulness for us, and our love and faithfulness to Him. The Lord provides so much time for us each day, week, and year; and He only asks for a small portion of it to be dedicated to Him.
What, or who, are you pursuing with your time?
Shalom. Be well.