My Time is My Own!
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
~ Psalm 90:12
When asked to help, the two most common responses are always “I do not have the time” or “I do not have any money.” Yet, most of the time those giving these answers DO have the time to watch their favorite television show and DO have the money to indulge themselves at a nice restaurant, show or sporting event.
The concept of ownership is a convenience, and there is some value to it in life. But the 1% of legitimate ownership we might feel gives way to the 99% of ownership we feel, that springs from pride, or greed. When we covet, we want what others have, and we recognize that it might be wrong. But when we cling to tightly to something as ours by an inalienable right, we often fall into a trap as sinful as coveting.
In this passage by C. S. Lewis, from “The Screwtape Letters”, Screwtape outlines one of the most damaging forms of greed: The sense that our time is ours alone, and when it is spent in a way that does not gratify us, something is being taken from us wrongfully:
Screwtape Outlines a Fundamental Deception:
“Men are not angered by mere misfortune but by misfortune conceived as injury. And the sense of injury depends on the feeling that a legitimate claim has been denied. The more claims on life, therefore, that your patient can be induced to make, the more often he will feel injured and, as a result, ill-tempered.
Now you will have noticed that nothing throws him into a passion so easily as to find a tract of time which he reckoned on having at his own disposal unexpectedly taken from him. It is the unexpected visitor (when he looked forward to a quiet evening), or the friend’s talkative wife (turning up when he looked forward to a tête-à-tête with the friend), that throw him out of gear.
Now he is not yet so uncharitable or slothful that these small demands on his courtesy are in themselves too much for it. They anger him because he regards his time as his own and feels that it is being stolen. You must therefore zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption ‘My time is my own’.
Let him have the feeling that he starts each day as the lawful possessor of twenty-four hours. Let him feel as a grievous tax that portion of this property which he has to make over to his employers, and as a generous donation that further portion which he allows to religious duties. But what he must never be permitted to doubt is that the total from which these deductions have been made was, in some mysterious sense, his own personal birthright.”
Lord, let me not be greedy of my time, for it is a gift from you. Amen.
~ Mason Barge
Editor, Daily Prayer