Your Time or Your Money?
Each serves its own purpose. But do not try to let the one serve the purpose of the other, for that neither can do.
YOUR time or your money? Which do you prefer to give? The shiftless, lazy husband may prefer giving only his time. He sits around the house all day or visits with the “boys” while his wife takes in washing to support the family. But the tendency among more persons is to give money when one should be giving time.
Said a wise king: “For everything there is an appointed time, even a time for every affair under the heavens.” That being true, it follows that when it is the appointed time for us to give of our time we may not substitute for it with our money, or someone will most likely suffer. Such would be neither wise, just nor loving.—Eccl. 3:1.
True, some materialistic persons may prefer to have you give them of your money rather than of your time, but if they were truly wise, or if they were truly your friends, they would prefer having you give them of your time. But even at that, what others prefer is not, should not, in the final analysis, be the governing factor. A selfish wife or spoiled children may prefer money to the time and affection of those that love them. Then what should be the governing factor? It should be what we owe. Just as we may not be giving only our time when we owe money, so we may not give only money when we should be giving time. Of course, in many cases we are obligated to give both.
A married man certainly owes both money and time to his wife. Parents likewise owe both time and material support to their children, even as dedicated Christians owe both time and their material possessions to their God Jehovah. But owing both, do we neglect to give time because it is easier to give money? Do we salve our conscience for failing to give as much of our time as we should by giving money?
Some years ago there was a prosperous lawyer in a large United States city. He enjoyed a good reputation and made his wife happy by his considerateness and liberality with his money. Then one day her happiness was shattered. Why? She learned that he was keeping a mistress in a downtown apartment. He gave his wife money but preferred to give his time to his mistress!
Even honest husbands are often likely to err in this respect. They work hard to provide their wives generously with all they need materially. But for relaxation or companionship they go to a tavern or a lodge or pursue some hobby in which their wives cannot share. They give money but not time. Not that the wife in some cases may not be partly to blame, but that is not the point being considered here. Even though she may come short, her husband still has a debt of time to pay her, even as he continues to owe her support and her marital dues. The Bible says, “Love builds up.” Money, of itself, does not build up. To build up his wife a man may not be content with giving her only money or let money take the place of his giving her time.—1 Cor. 8:1.
Not that only husbands err in this respect. Wives also do at times. Thus a certain sophisticated young woman who kept joking that she preferred being an old man’s darling to a young man’s slave married a young man after all. He learned a trade and became very successful in one of the most fashionable sections of a large midwestern city. His wife, however, in spite of his success and his pleas that she stay at home, insisted on going to work; she was determined to contribute her share in her own way. She even kept on doing the wash, although he wanted her to send it to the laundry so she would have more time. Then one day she came home from work to find that he had committed suicide. She had insisted on giving money, which he did not need, and had failed to give what he most needed—her companionship, her time.
An extreme case? True, but the underlying principle holds. Wives working when there is no real need may be one reason why the life span of men is from six to seven years less than for women, and why so many men become heart victims. Wives who prefer holding down a job on the outside to housework should therefore ask themselves: Does my husband, do we, need the extra dollars more than he needs my time, attention, affection and moral support that I sacrifice for the sake of a job? By becoming a wage earner am I competing instead of co-operating with him? Yes, money cannot take the place of time and the things time makes possible.
This same principle applies with equal force to parents. Modern parents often are prone to substitute money for time in their relationships with their children. They buy their children costly toys, provide a television set for them and are generous with spending money and think they have done their duty. So they feel free to pursue their own selfish pleasures, running to shows, bridge parties or what not. Such is a serious mistake! For children to mature properly they need the companionship of their elders. Thus recent scientific research with sheep, for example, has shown that lambs mature far quicker and become self-reliant much earlier when left with their parents than when segregated with other young lambs. Children are born imitators. That is one of the ways by which they learn best. Let them therefore have mature companionship as much as possible. This is an argument, incidentally, in favor of keeping children at home rather than letting them play with other children that are not being reared properly.
This is right in keeping with the Scriptural command given fathers in ancient Israel: “These words that I am commanding you today must prove to be on your heart, and you must inculcate them in your son and speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up.” Certainly that required fathers to give, not money, but of their time, did it not?—Deut. 6:6, 7.
And, remember, you parents are not giving your children of your time while they are watching television. Certain wise parents in an eastern United States city not so long ago illustrated the folly of this course to their own satisfaction. Finding the children becoming addicted to television, they disconnected the set for a whole year. Suddenly they found they had time to learn to play musical instruments, to entertain one another with them as well as by reading aloud to one another, and so forth. They became better acquainted and drawn closer together than they had ever been before. At the end of the year the television set was reconnected, but strict rules were established as to its use. Watching it was now limited to programs of special interest or value and then only after household chores and homework had been done. Truly a wise family! Those parents lovingly had the welfare of their children at heart and so were not content with merely supplying them with the things that can be bought for money. It is easy for fathers to overlook their obligation in this regard, modern working and living conditions being conducive to such oversight.
In recent years mothers also are erring more and more along this line. It has been demonstrated that a child can tell whether a mother works outside because of necessity, to support herself and her children, or if she works because she does not want to be bothered with her family obligations or finds housework boring. And that should not be difficult to understand, for in the heart of the mother there is all the difference in the world.
When a mother goes to work because of necessity, she has to tear herself away from her children and she kisses them good-by each morning with the overtones, “Oh, I’m so sorry that I have to leave you!” But if she goes to work because of preference her farewell has no such rich emotional overtones, as, indeed, it cannot. Consciously or unconsciously she feels pleasure at getting away from home. No wonder that delinquent children are frequently found in homes where mothers work who really do not need to work. Children rebel at their mother’s rejection of them. They need their mother’s love and innately feel they have a right to it. If they are deprived of it, their emotions run amuck, bringing forth such fruits as gangland violence and vandalism.
Time and again this principle also works in reverse. Grown children provide materially for their aged parents but neglect giving them of their time. Often this may be a case of reaping what they themselves sowed.
Among the many other fields of human relations and endeavor in which it is common to err in giving money when we should be giving time, and which might be mentioned, is that of religion. Today both clergy and their flocks think comparatively little about the obligation to give time and stress only money. Of course, a shepherd of a flock interested only in fleecing his sheep will keep harping on money matters rather than the giving of time, but a true pastor of souls will put the emphasis on the giving of their time.
The fact that the “people have loved it that way” does not make it right. Many people feel that going to church on Sunday and giving 10 percent of their income is all there is to being a Christian. The rest of their time is their own. Or they feel that not even once a week, but once a month or only twice a year, on Easter and Christmas, is enough so long as they keep mailing in their contribution envelopes. To encourage giving, some churches even publish lists at the end of the year showing how much each parishioner contributed. Far wiser would they be to show how much time each gave—gave to church work and, in particular, to evangelizing. Obviously the results would be far from flattering.’—Jer. 5:31.
True, the Scriptures do stress the giving of one’s means, to God and neighbor: “Honor Jehovah with your valuable things and with the first fruits of all your produce.” “For if the readiness is there first, it is especially acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what a person does not have.” “He that sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he that sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Let each one do just as he has resolved in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”—Prov. 3:9; 2 Cor. 8:12; 9:6, 7.
But far more important is the giving of our time, giving of ourselves as the apostle Paul did. He had no money to give, but he did have time, and how freely he gave it! “Having a tender affection for you, we were well pleased to impart to you, not only the good news of God, but also our own souls, because you became beloved to us. Certainly you bear in mind, brothers, our labor and toil. It was with working night and day, so as not to put an expensive burden upon any one of you, that we preached the good news of God to you.” That is why he counseled: “Become steadfast, unmovable, always having plenty to do in the work of the Lord.”—1 Thess. 2:7-9; 1 Cor. 15:58.
This is exactly the perspective of the witnesses of Jehovah. Keeping their expenses at a minimum by not having a salaried class of pastors, money matters come in for but routine notice. But how they stress the giving of time! Each Witness is urged to attend five congregational meetings weekly, 260 a year, spend time doing private and family study of the Bible and then devote as much time as he can to the field ministry. Each congregation has its hour quota and each Witness strives to meet or exceed it. The average minister in a congregation spends some ten hours monthly in such evangelizing. They believe in “buying out the opportune time” for themselves.—Eph. 5:16.
More than that, before each such minister is set the goal of becoming a pioneer, special pioneer minister or missionary, devoting as such from 100 to 150 hours a month to evangelizing. In fact, from the beginning the Watch Tower Society has stressed that if a minister has two courses open before him, the one of giving more money and the other of giving more time, he should by all means choose the one enabling him to give more time. Thereby he would the more closely follow in the footsteps of Jesus and his apostles, “seeking first the kingdom” of God.—Matt. 6:33.
As a result of pursuing this course, the New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses has not only become a rapidly growing society but also a strong one, as those comprising it cannot be preaching and teaching others without benefiting themselves, for we read: “The one freely watering others will himself also be freely watered.” At the same time it makes for a happy society of people, since “there is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”—Prov. 11:25; Acts 20:35.
So, husbands, wives, parents, and dedicated Christians in particular, remember, there is an appointed time for every purpose under the sun. Giving of our money is commendable, but never let that take the place of our obligation to give of our time. “Do not hold back good from those to whom it is owing, when it happens to be in the power of your hand to do it.” Give of your time for the greatest good of others as well as for your own truest happiness.—Prov. 3:27.