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In a society where overload seems common place, concerns about laziness may seem misplaced. We wear busyness as a badge of honor and chronic exhaustion appears epidemic. We talk and dream of projects we would like to see completed and chores that need to be done “if we only had time.” Truth is no one gets any more hours in a day than anyone else. Like money, it’s not how much we have, but how we spend it.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans 15 years and older spend on average 4.6 hours a day dedicated to leisure. Over half of this leisure time, approximately 2.75 hours a day, is spent watching television.[1] While watching a couple of episodes of your favorite shows a day might not seem like a huge investment of time, when you put it together it becomes startling. What would an extra 19.25 hours a week do for your project dreams?

Even with the convenience of online shopping and home delivery, buying consumer goods still absorbs a sizable portion of our lives. According to the 2017 American Time Use Survey, 42% of the population does the shopping and spends on average 0.86 hours a day in purchasing consumer goods.[2] Follow the math with me. This equates to 314 hours a year buying things. If shopping happened to be a regular full-time job (8 hours a day, 5 days a week), the shopping American would be employed for nearly 2 months. Imagine getting paid for an extra two months of labor instead of spending it.

A 2011 survey found that on average, women spend close to 400 hours a year buying clothes, books, food, and toiletries. 95 of these hours were spent in procuring food while toiletry shopping occupied them for only 17 hours.[3] This means that on average, the women surveyed spent 350% more time shopping for clothes and books than they did for food and toiletries. The apostle Paul confessed his need for clothes and books.[4] But he had a proper view of the value of things.

1 Timothy 6:6-8
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. KJV

Excessive buying creates other problems. As of March 2018, Americans owed $1.027 trillion—yes folks, trillion—in credit card debt.[5] Let me put that in a bit of perspective for you. If you spent a dollar a second, it would take you 32,465 years to spend $1.027 trillion.

A staggering 43% of Americans carry over a credit card balance every month.[6] We live beyond our means, taking precious time to buy things we cannot afford that ultimate consume more of our time and energy in taking care of and storing our purchases.

Placing limits on our buying will grant us more time and peace. Two simple steps would carry us a long way down the road to improved living conditions: only buy what we can afford and spend no money on the Sabbath. Buying on credit is more often than not an impulse problem—a lack of self-control—than it is a subsistence problem. If we worked, saved, and waited before we bought our unnecessary expenditures of time and money would go down.

Excessive behaviors are life wasters. Avoiding them allows us to use our time wisely.

Ephesians 5:18
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; KJV

The Greek word translated “excess” is asotia, which is a compound word formed from a as a negative particle and a derivative of sozo, which is commonly translated as “saved.” Asotia is unsavedness. The New King James translates it as “dissipation,” which is wasteful expenditure. Excesses waste us away. They actually move us away from wholeness, from the blessings of our salvation. In practice, they make our lives experientially unsaved.

1 Peter 4:3-5
3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:
4 Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot [asotia] speaking evil of you:
5 Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. KJV

Come judgment day we will need to account for the days the Lord granted us. May we be found faithful stewards of His precious gift of time.

[1] https://www.bls.gov/tus/charts/leisure.htm (accessed February 9, 2019).
[2] https://www.bls.gov/news.release/atus.t01.htm (accessed February 15, 2019).
[3] https://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/average-women-spend-399-hours-shopping-year-survey-finds-article-1.116819 (accessed February 15, 2019).
[4] 2 Tim. 4:13.
[5] https://www.lexingtonlaw.com/blog/loans/credit-card-debt-statistics.html (accessed February 15, 2019).
[6] ibid.