The Stewardship of the Gift of a Day is one of the most important gifts entrusted to our care. As we explored last week, the care of the Gift of Time (and all of its derivatives) has a direct relation to our salvation. This week, as we further explore this aspect of Orthodox Stewardship, let us examine how we are called to care for this “daily” gift.
My mouth is filled with thy praise, and with thy glory all the day (Psalms 71:8). The Psalms are filled with references as to how we should spend our time each day glorifying the Lord our God. Many times, they instruct that we should be praising God at least seven times a day—the number is significant. Seven, being God’s number, is a perfect number—a complete number—and calls to mind endless infinity. Hence, there is never a “minimum” in our praise to God. Our praise is not limited to the words that come from our mouths, either. Man is called to be in constant communion with God. Christ Himself instructed us that it is good to pray, “Give us this day, our daily bread” knowing that we need to eat—and that in our eating, we may also commune with God through Him.
Each and every day is an opportunity to grow in Christ. Each and every day is an opportunity to re-dedicate ourselves to living the Faith. Each and every day is an opportunity to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow Christ (Luke 9:23). And yet, do we take up this opportunity? Do we “seize the day”?
Disgracefully, we do not. We spend more time on leisure activities than we do on anything else other than sleep and work. This is not to say that we cannot praise God in rest—not at all! But, when the average American household consumes a little more than five hours of television usage per day. (The Nielson Company, 2011), we must question our priorities. We might argue that this is too high of an estimate—except that the Department of Labor and its Bureau of Labor and Statistics agrees. The BLS estimates that the average civilian watches television for 2.75 hours per day (US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 2012). Multiply that by the mean size of the American household of 2.58 (Census Bureau, 2011), and the daily TV usage remains slightly higher at 7.09 hours per household.
The disgrace doesn’t end there. Today, there is no such thing as “free time” in our lives. We have allocated every minute of every day to try to “maximize” the reward. And yet, where does the Church fall in this great scheduling?
According to the Bureau of Labor and statistics in this same survey, only 35 minutes per day is used in “organizational, religious or spiritual activities.” We may argue that the “average” Orthodox household spends more time than that in prayer—and I’ll tentatively agree—but not much more. One has only to go to a Saturday night Great Vespers or Vigil to see that the time is not spent in Church.
If we are truly attempting to “maximize” our eternal reward, then it is time to re-prioritize our day. The things of this world are fleeting—they pass away. But the things of the Kingdom of Heaven are eternal—and exist where neither moth nor rust consumes. Today is the day to reorganize our lives. Today is the day to recreate our priorities, reflecting where we actually value our eternal reward. Today is the day to stop paying “lip-service” and start actually loving God!
So, how do we accomplish this, you may ask? Start by creating a list of priorities. An example could look like this: 1) Relationship with God, 2) Relationship with Family, 3) Relationship with Self, etc. Then, reflect the need for the most important priorities to fulfill the greatest amount of time. This is especially important in considering a career choice—because our jobs (and our interaction with the world) can become an opportunity to praise God. (For instance, it’s not a good idea to run a casino if one is concerned about salvation.) After this, create a “Daily Spiritual Schedule” to help accomplish this task of organizing one’s spiritual life.
It is time for all of us to make God our number one priority each day. I can promise one thing: if we do, there will be Joy in all aspects of our lives like we have never known before!