When I was in high school, I became addicted to an online game called Farmville. Like many online games, Farmville is free to play, but for just a few dollars you can purchase special perks.
I always considered myself too wise to spend real money on a game that would arguably add no real value to my life. Instead, I spent hours each day carefully planting and harvesting virtual strawberries and eggplant, secretly applauding myself for outsmarting the game’s incessant marketing schemes.
See, in high school I had a tight income, so I kept a tight budget. I accounted for every dollar, setting aside funds for the things I valued, with not much left over. I realized that any purchase I made beyond what I had budgeted for would require sacrificing something else, and Farmville just didn’t make the cut.
But even with all of my careful budgeting, it never occurred to me that I was pouring something far more precious than money into my imaginary farm. Because even though my monetary income may have felt tight, I was, and still am, living on an even tighter “time income.”
My time income is so tight that every minute I receive is spent immediately. Yet I find in retrospect that I too often thoughtlessly squander the few hours I’m given each day. So recently I tried an experiment: I attempted to account for every waking moment of my week in a sort of “time-budget.”
I made calendar events for my work hours, my meal times, my trips to the grocery store, and I intentionally scheduled time for all of the things that I wish I did more of but never seem to get to, like reading scriptures and investing in relationships.
After a few weeks on this new time-budget, I discovered a dilemma: As I carefully counted the true cost of each choice and opportunity, I found that many of my daily routines and habits no longer made the cut.
So, even while I have on countless occasions reasoned that “I have time for just one more episode,” or “it just takes a minute to check Instagram,” or “I can get ahead by working extra hours,” I never considered that these small choices are the very same that keep my scriptures collecting dust, my relationships waxing cold, and my soul feeling hungry.
“Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)
When I thoughtlessly spend my money, I’m unable to purchase treasures on Earth. When I thoughtlessly spend my time, I find my pockets empty for the treasures of Heaven that God offers to those who diligently seek Him. So maybe instead of spending my day planting and harvesting virtual fruits and vegetables, I should invest my time in the things of God and enjoy a harvest of the fruits of the Spirit.
“For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” (Galatians 6:8)
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.