The concept of time management captures much of our time. Studies of how we use our time or analyses of our productivity are meant to make us wise when it comes how we utilize the opportunity costs that come with spending our time. Utilizing data from the American Time Use Survey, Flowing Data released a visual chart depicting the use of a person’s time over the course of a lifetime.
Certainly, such a study is not indicative of exactness of each person’s life. Priorities, schedules, and lives vary and thus the lifetime use of time will vary. Furthermore, there are questions raised about the study and the definitions used to determine answers (i.e. the study states that the average person spends only 321 days of their life caring for household members, which seems quite low for families with children) especially when considering how subjective many of these studies are. However, even if there is variation that exists between each person and with the questions raised, the extremes exemplified are telling about who we are.
The Grace of God
The first aspect sure to capture any person’s attention is the amount sleep, not merely because it is the first listed, but because it dominates how the majority of our time is spent. The study reports that 8,031 days, or 35.6% of our time is spent sleeping while the next closest activity is almost half that. It’s interesting to note that the next activity is not work, but actually social and leisure that takes up the next aspect of our time (4,306 days, 19.1%), which demonstrates how flawed our perceptions can be, but that’s a discussion for another time. Right now, looking at sleep in relation to every other activity exposes the magnitude of God’s grace.
How can our ability to sleep display God’s grace? Easily when we consider what sleep indicates. Sin destroys the body and leads to death. The Bible describes our current earthly bodies as lowly (Philippians 3:21) and as a body of death (Romans 7:24). That death comes over time as the body decays and eventually succumbs to the effects of sin, dying to this life. The punishment for sin is death (Romans 6:23) yet the fact that death is not immediate demonstrates the depth of God’s grace. Instead, the Lord gives us an extended opportunity to receive that grace. The very fact that God has given us the provision of sleep to replenish and nourish our bodies for a time goes beyond what we truly deserve. Once again, God has demonstrated His character as faithful to fulfill His promises.
The Denial of Man
Yet, in spite of the depth of God’s graces and His constant revelation of it, men are still quick to reject that grace. According to this infographic and study, people spend only 138 days of their lives on religious or spiritual activities. That amounts to only 0.6% of their lifetime and 42 hours a year (or less than 1 hour a week). Such numbers are concerning!
The quick response to such dismal statistics is to bemoan how uncommitted Christians are. However, I do not think those types of conclusions can be made from this study. After all, the idea of religious or spiritual activity is all inclusive and we can expect that this study includes many people who have no religious affiliation at all. Therefore any quick judgments about the status of Christians based on this information is ill-timed and ill-advised.
Instead, there is a great lament that comes from this information as presented. From it, we see man’s rejection of God. The emphasis upon socializing, reading, and leisure are indicative of our desire to please ourselves. The lack of emphasis on religious activities indicates a lack of desire to please God. Most people in general have little regard for God’s grace, failing to admit their need for it, they find self-fulfillment the more immediate and more important objective.
The very fact that so much sleep is necessary is an indirect demonstration of our need for God. Even more, the way in which people’s available time is spent indicates a rejection of that need for God. As Christians, there are two responses that come from this: a love for God and a love for others. Convinced of our need, we respond to God as a result. Furthermore, the need for the gospel is revealed. Convinced of our need and the needs of others, love pours forth through the sharing of the gospel. Perhaps a look at this study will convince us of God’s grace and man’s need resulting in a spreading of the gospel of God.
The article and accompanying graphic for “How the Average Adult Spends Days” referenced in this article can be found by clicking here.
Photo “Sleeping Cat” courtesy of user Ana Sofia Guerreirinho and Flickr.