Burning Daylight
Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at 5:21PM
Jeff Smith in Discipleship

When Daylight Saving Time suddenly ends, we are dramatically struck by how much less daylight we seem to have when we need it most. The days keep getting shorter and night comes sooner than desired. it is times like those that we often hear the complaint made – “We’re burning daylight!” when someone appears to be indecisive or just wasting time. Of course, the truth is that we’re always burning daylight when it comes to this life and its appointment with eternity.

I. Light and Dark

A. Day and Night

1. day and night are frequently used in Scripture as metaphors for righteous and unrighteous behavior, not that the pattern cannot be disturbed, but that people have usually tended to wait until the cover of darkness or secrecy to do things they know they ought to be ashamed of

2. in fact, people whose consciences are sufficiently seared can commit heinous offenses against God and morality without any pang of guilt or remorse, except that sometimes they are horribly offended when exposed or criticized for things like fornication, lying, or stealing

3. the most beloved passage in all the Bible – John 3:16 – even includes a warning about this habit, but most people stop reading before they get to anything close to personal accountability (John 3:16-21)

a. most of us do not like going to the dentist or the doctor because an expert in the area is looking at us with a very critical eye – how are we brushing and flossing, exercising and eating – and we fear the report will be embarrassingly negative or even physically painful

b. dentists can recommend extractions, but doctors can predict death

c. to the intractable sinner, appearing before God can be just as unpleasant, for he sees things we want to keep on doing, but without suffering criticism or demands that we quit

4. the Bible offers us his diagnosis and we can do with it what we want, just like we can keep on refusing to brush our rotting teeth or exercise our expanding midsections, only the consequences are much more severe and enduring (First Corinthians 11:28-32, Second Corinthians 13:5-9)

B. Day of the Lord

1. we cannot afford to be caught burning daylight, because we can never determine what percentage of our grains of sand are in the top of the hourglass and what amount has already slipped down to the bottom, nor even how many grains we started with

2. the day of the Lord is approaching and we will face it, either as humans who happened to live long enough to hear the trumpet sound, or as departed souls that have awaited the resurrection from Hades

3. what will the coming of the Lord find us doing?; will we be ready or will we be caught burning the last glimmer of daylight the Lord offered us as an extension of his patience (Romans 2:3-6)?

4. the day of the Lord was used in the Old Testament to predict a time at which God would shake up the structures of mankind, redeeming his righteous people and punishing their oppressors

a. in the New Testament, the day of the Lord has a similar connotation, but in its eschatological sense, it foretells the second coming of Christ to usher in eternal judgment and the destruction of the planet (Second Peter 3:8-12)

b. we are simply burning daylight if we have made this life our priority, or have fallen into patterns of sin and self-indulgence, thinking that we have unlimited sand in the top

II. Burning the Light

A. Works of Darkness

1. Paul tried to warn his friends in the imperial capital about this danger as they were daily surrounded by all the trappings and excitement of living in such a cosmopolitan city in a time where getting ahead and having fun mattered most to people (Romans 13:11-14)

2. whether it is literally day or night, the disciple of Christ should have nothing shameful in his behavior, habits, or hobbies that demands concealment, either from God or from others

3. we learn to think, talk, act, and react as if a light is always shining on us – not a spotlight or a surgical light, but the effulgence of Christ, “who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (Second Timothy 1:10)

4. six sins are specified here as works of darkness that are so vile they should be cast off like a bloody, soiled garment

a. orgies: “used generally of feasts and drinking parties that are protracted till late at night and indulge in revelry,” carousing and heavy, wild partying (Thayer)

b. drunkenness is where partying like this often leads

c. sexual immorality includes every indulgence of sexual desire outside the marriage bed

d. sensuality is “unbridled lust, excess, licentiousness, lasciviousness, wantonness, outrageousness, shamelessness, insolence,” the kind of behavior that produces fornication through shameless behavior, flirtation, entertainment, dress (Thayer)

e. quarreling is not just fistfights and violence, but is also the kind of arguments that people have when they are wrangling over pride and opinions

f. jealousy is “an envious and contentious rivalry,” that further divides people

5. these are works of darkness, of the flesh, that make a person an unfit temple for the Holy Spirit, an unworthy disciple of Christ, an unlikely child of God (Proverbs 4:14-19)

B. Armor of Light

1. we are burning daylight if we make any time at all for carousing, drunkenness, sensual temptation, sexual immorality, quarreling over nothing or jealously protecting our pride

2. the day of the Lord is going to surprise us if we do not get serious about changing our ways (First Thessalonians 5:1-10)

3. whether it is time to obey the gospel or to be restored to fellowship from sin, the longer you delay, the harder it becomes and the more irreplaceable daylight you will have burned

a. “Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision” (Joel 3:14).

4. the armor of light fits better and lasts longer and has no function for providing opportunities for gratification to the fleshly appetites we all struggle to control; it is not that we ever seem to achieve moral flawlessness, but that we grow to appreciate the progress we make along the way to glory


As autumn wears on and winter approaches, we can all perceive the days growing shorter. Given time, the Earth will reverse this trend and the days will get longer as spring gets closer, but that can be only a spiritual illusion if you think the same might happen with your life. Instead, the days continue to grow fewer as you waste time burning daylight (see Ecclesiastes 12:1-14).

Questions For Review

  1. What are the metaphorical uses of day and night in Scripture?

  2. What warning did Jesus give Nicodemus about the light?

  3. What is the benefit of self-examination?

  4. What happens on the day of the Lord?

  5. Describe the six works of darkness from Romans 13.

  6. What makes up the armor of light?

  7. What does it mean to burn daylight?

Update on Sunday, November 6, 2011 at 7:55PM by Registered CommenterJeff Smith

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Article originally appeared on ElectronicGospel (http://electronicgospel.com/).
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