Often, we hear the words “in Jesus’ name” at church, on the street, at home, after each prayer, and in many other instances in our daily interactions. However, to me, the phrase is a mind-boggling one. Is it only used when we ask God to do something for us? Is it just the cliché we use when closing our prayers, or the resounding voice of a speaker commanding God’s people to keep obedient, “in Jesus’ name?”
Let me challenge you to analyze the phrase from a different angle, from the perspective of what we do every day. Many of us who work, live, and breathe in God’s church, see every program, meeting, trip, visit, and office visitation as activities that we perform “in Jesus’ name.” Perhaps, we actually argue them, defend them, and become protectors of them all. After all, it is the work of God. In fact, this work is sometimes accomplished late at night, long after a 40-hour work week is completed, and even during meals, “in Jesus’ name.”
Next time you speak the words, “in Jesus’ name,” consider these questions: At what cost? What is the real price of a 13-hour flight? Who is really sacrificing for the hundreds of thousands of miles flown in a year? How many people’s time is cut short because of hour after hour in trains, cars, and buses—many times with strangers and often buried in our own computer screen? At what point do we realize that we may be sometimes doing more harm than good? Yet, it’s all done “in Jesus’ name.”
What is the underlying issue? I suggest it is time management. How well do we manage our time? How am I doing with mine? We are not stewards of only material things. God also gives us time—time that needs to be utilized wisely; time that must be maximized; and hours that need to be converted into quality time with our loved ones. Are we doing God’s work, “in Jesus’ name,” to the neglect of our family, friends, or even ourselves?
We have not found the proper balance. Matthew 23:23 reminds us to get our priorities in order. We should also take heed from the words of the apostle to redeem the time because time is short (Ephesians 5:15, 16). We are encouraged to avoid procrastination, to be diligent in our duties, and to do our very best in service to God and humanity (Proverbs 24:30-34).
Our present actions definitely impact our future. Time lost will not return; present conditions bring future consequences; and the present is only available today. Ask yourself, are my actions today taken with a tomorrow mind-set? Maybe this is something worth considering.
“Philip D. Patterson in his book, Redeeming the Time: The Christian Walk in a Hurried World, gives us a good starting point. He tells us: ‘Good time management is not marching to the beat of some rigorous, strict regimen on the road to productivity. It is finding the freedom to be all God created you to be by being balanced in your life and becoming a wise steward of time’ ”—Cited by June Hunt, (2008). Biblical Counseling Keys on Time Management: Maximizing Your Minutes, p. 2.
As we do the Lord’s work and follow His command, setting the best examples for our family, and shaping the next generation of men and women in our society, let’s do so, using the time wisely; building relationships; not destroying or neglecting them. As Steven Covey, a business executive, said, “the key is not spending time but investing it.” This wisdom is poetically expressed in the balanced cadence of Ecclesiastes 3, encouraging you to live in harmony with God’s guidance—to go with God’s flow—“in Jesus’ name.”
Elias F. Zabala, Sr., is the Atlantic Union Conference treasurer and stewardship director.