How does God view it when we waste time?
Is it merely unwise in his eyes? Is it a gray area?
What does scripture say?
Is wasting time a sin?
From the Heart
Jesus says this to the Pharisees in Matthew 12:33-37:
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Jesus says here (as well as Luke 6:45) that our words come from the abundance of our hearts.
The concept of heart here refers to a person’s will, to their inner self, and to their affections and desires. And the words we speak come forth from this heart.
Not Just Words, but Actions
I believe this principle applies to other areas of life, such as our actions, our decisions, and the very course of our lives.
Proverbs 4:23 shows this clearly:
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
What we say, what we don’t say, what we do, and what we don’t do all flow from our affections and our hearts.
Every Word Is Important
A striking statement is found at the end of the above passage from Matthew 6: People will give an account for every careless word they speak.
There is no such thing as a word so insignificant that it flies below God’s radar. Even the most casual speech is worthy of examination because even the most casual speech matters.
It matters to God because of the impact it makes on hearers, but I don’t think that’s the thrust of what’s being said here. It matters because of the relationship between the words and the heart.
Wrong speech reveals a wrong heart – a heart full of idols.
Even the tiniest word – and I would say this applies to the tiniest action as well – reveals our affections and desires.
We are never in neutral. Our words and actions are always flowing from where we have set our hearts.
Our affections may be set on Christ – but they may be set on idols that we hope will bring us more pleasure. How we use our time reveals what we worship.
Wasting time is a sin because even the tiniest misuse of time shows that I am not “loving the Lord my God with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my strength and with all my mind – and my neighbor as myself.” (Luke 10:27)
In the Moment
When I work too much, I may be loving the praise of men or loving material wealth or loving the feeling of being self-sufficient.
The variety of idols is stunning, and the ways that they could draw our actions astray are numerous.
Yet there’s good news. Regardless of how my sinful heart takes me down a sinful path of wasting time, Christ is there to forgive me. He’s there to remind me of my righteous standing with God purchased by Christ. He’s there to empower me – by his grace – to change.
We don’t manage our time well to justify ourselves.
We manage our time well because justified hearts, through Christ’s power, will lead to a certain type of life.
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