Weekly message from Cypress Church: The space to be neighborly

Ephesians 5:15-17 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

I had wise mentor once say something to me that changed my thinking and actions. I was complaining that I did not have time for the challenges before me. I was working, going to school, interning at a church, spending time with my friends, and developing a relationship with a girl that I was hoping would turn into something more. I was overwhelmed. I loved all I was doing, but it just seemed a bit much. This mentor asked me to spend some extended time with him as he went to speak at conference. He really wanted me to go because this conference would be a place I could learn much in my field and make some important networking contacts. I responded saying I had no time to go to this conference and went off on how busy I was and kept lamenting saying, “I just don’t have time.” Out of frustration over my immature behavior, and to help guide me, my mentor blurted out, “The only people who don’t have time are no longer living.” It took me a moment to process what he was saying. The obvious response to his statement was yes, those who do not have time are those whose time is up and have died. But knowing my mentor, there was a deeper meaning.

The deeper meaning came out of the Bible verse mentioned above (Ephesians 5:15-17) that time is something we manage and that we are no longer living if we let time manage us. If we let time manage us, we are just responding, being taken by the current of the rapid life we have created. With this kind of life we do not have space for much of anything. My mentor was right. I was not living, but just responding to my crazy, packed life. I wanted to have space to grow as person, to develop a relationship, to have fun, and be the person God created me to me. I also knew that meant for me to make space to be neighborly to others.

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

The Bible is clear we are to make space to be neighborly.

Leviticus 19:18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
Matthew 22:39 And a second (major life command) is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

I realized I needed to get in control of the time God had given me. Actually, God gives everyone the same amount of time: 24 hours a day. My job was to manage well these 24 hours with the proper sleep, exercise, work time, school time, relationship time, fun time, and serving God’s purposes. One of those purposes being to make space to be neighborly.

Colossians 4:5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.
Proverbs 10:4 A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.

I began to make to appropriate space for every area of my life. Sure, it was not easy; yet, I had time to accomplish all that God had for me, and yes, that relationship turned into a marriage that is 36 years strong with three kids, a spouse for each, and 7 grandkids (with another on the way)! My mentor had another phrase that has kept me making the appropriate space for what matters: “There is enough time to do all of God’s will for your life, today.” One of those areas we know is the will of God is to make space to be neighborly.

Gathering with others at church is another good use of our time. If you don’t have a church you regularly attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or one of our branch churches. We have just started a new teaching series called “A Beautiful Church in the Neighborhood.” We will be walking though Jesus’ teaching of the Good Samaritan and how we might be that good neighbor to others. Our website has more information: http://www.cypresschurch.net. You can even attend one of our live-streaming services (see http://live.cypresschurch.net/). We would love for you to join us.