I am a Christian pastor who wishes to bring glory to God in all that I do, and to help people through my writing to know Him better.
Time flies, doesn't it! I have often wondered what it would be like to have no time constraints. What if we had endless amounts of hours to accomplish what we want in life? Would we do any more than what we are accomplishing now?
However we, like all creatures on this planet called earth, are constrained by the 24 hour time clock. That is just 84,600 seconds in every day. And several hours of that are spent sleeping. Sadly, we have a limited amount of time to get accomplished our purpose for existence and the desires that we would like fulfilled.
Not only that, but after we have lived a while, we see the signs of age and are reminded that our bodies are winding down. And if Jesus delays his return, we are going to experience what all people since Adam and Eve have encountered. We are going to die. And though death for the Christian is not the final word, what we have accomplished on this earth during our life before Christ returns is final. And we can either waste it, or use time for his glory (I Corinthians 10:31).
And further, what about those who have been around a few years and don't think they have accomplished much with their lives? It was William Wallace from the movie Braveheart who said: "Every man dies. Not every man really lives." What if we are among those who haven't really lived? Is there still hope of accomplishing God's best for our lives?
The answer to that is, if you are still breathing, if your heart is still beating, if you woke up this morning and saw a brand new day, then yes there is time. God has given you, once again, the precious gift of 24 hours to use and to spend wisely. But how do we do this? How do we go about having a life well spent?
The Bible gives us guidelines to follow in order to make the most of our existence on this earth. And that starts with not assuming that we will have a tomorrow.
I. Never Presume Upon the Future
Despite the old saying: "It's never too late!" the sad fact is that there will come a time when it is too late to do what we might have done. Jesus told his disciples in John 9:4 that: "We must work the works of Him who sent me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work."
Anyone who is familiar with the Gospels knows Jesus' parable of the rich young fool who thought he had all the time in the world to enjoy his riches. And at the same time he didn't think about God or what the Lord wanted him to do with his life. Luke 12:16-21 says:
And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully,and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” ’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
James also gives us an admonition on presuming that we have time, when in fact, we just don't know:
"Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them." (James 4:13-17).
We have to remember that tomorrow is not promised to us. God's gift of time can be taken away at any moment and we need to make the most of every second that our Heavenly Father has given to us.
II. Don't Let Age Define You
Along with not presuming upon the time that we are allowed here, we also have to remember that the amount of time we have already lived has little to do with what we can do in the present and the future.
We are living in a society that values youth and has little respect for old age. However, the Bible doesn't discriminate against either one. For example, the older Apostle Paul told the younger Timothy to:
"Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe." (I Timothy 4:12).
Daniel, was around 15 years old when he was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar in the year 605 B.C. And he lived to be about 90 (530 B.C.). During his whole life, Daniel was known for his godliness and prayer. He was in his 80's when he was thrown into the den of lions for his practice of daily prayer (Daniel 6).
Abraham was 100 when his promised son Isaac was born (Genesis 21:5) and Sarah, his wife, was 90 (Genesis 17:17).
Moses was 80 years old when he lead the people of Israel out of Egypt and they began their journey to the promised land. (Exodus 7:7). And he served God until he died at the ripe old age of 120 (Deuteronomy 34:1-8).
Caleb, one of only two people to enter the promised land from his generation, was 40 when he, Joshua and 10 other spies were asked to explore the land of Canaan. He and Joshua gave a minority report to the people that they should take the land that the Lord had given to the people of Israel. The other spies said that it couldn't be done and spread fear through the camp, causing the people not to go forward and conquer the land. Because of this that whole generation, except Joshua and Caleb, died for their sin in the wilderness (Numbers 13,14).
But the story doesn't stop there. Caleb, when he was 85, came to Joshua and asked him to lead the charge to take the land that was promised him and his family in the land of Canaan. It was given to him and he succeeded in taking it. (Joshua 14 and 15).
For those who think that older people can't contribute today, there are many examples of people who have done great things past the age of 60. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) was 70 when he signed the Declaration of Independence. Grandma Moses (1860-1961) was 78 when she began to paint in earnest. Colonel Sanders (1890-1980) was 65 when he started Kentucky Fried Chicken. Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997) through her organization that she founded, the Missionaries of Charity, was actively helping the poorest of the poor up until the day that she died at the age of 87.
We could go on and on with examples of famous and not so famous people who didn't let age stand in their way, but kept active until they left this earth. If you are relatively healthy and able to stand, move or talk, there is no retirement age with God.
III. Entrust All Your Time to God
Lastly but certainly not the least of the admonitions needed for utilizing time wisely and using our existence on this earth to its fullest is to entrust all of our life to the God who created us, saved us and sustains our lives. God is the great I Am, the self-existent one who needs nothing and no one. We, on the other hand, are needy and cannot exist apart from him.
Scripture says that the very heavens declare the glory of God (Psalm 19:1-6). And Paul tells us in Colossians 1:16 regarding our Lord Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, that all things were created by him and for him. That includes every person on this planet.
Besides all of this, if you are a Christian, God has chosen you in Christ before the foundation of the world to be blameless and holy in his sight He loved each of us and predestined us to be his adopted children. His ultimate goal is so that we will be his trophies to the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:1-6). We were saved by grace through faith in order to be his masterpiece to do good works for him (Ephesians 2:8-10).
So all of our time on this earth, should be used to the glory of the one who chose us, saved us and who is in control of it all (Galatians 2:20). Or should we say that we accept the fact of his sovereignty or control over our time in the first place?
The teacher in Ecclesiastes 3 poetically tells us about our time on this planet and says that there is a time for everything under the Sun. And yet all that we do in time is not ultimately under our control. For instance, we have no power over our birth or our death. Also, we can plant seeds but we really have no ultimate command over their growth. We can only pluck what has grown (3:2).
It is interesting that the teacher of Ecclesiastes is not just talking about chronological time here. The ancient Greeks had two words for time: Chronos and Kairos. Kairos (καιρός) is an ancient Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment (the supreme moment). While the former refers to chronological or sequential time, the latter signifies a time lapse, a moment of indeterminate time in which everything happens. When the book of Ecclesiastes was translated from Hebrew into Greek in the Septuagint, the translators used the word Kairos for time in this passage.
The ancient teacher earlier talks about the vanity of all things under the Sun without a God perspective. What makes all things have meaning, including time, is understanding that God has this world under his control. Everything that happens in time ultimately happens at the supreme moment it's supposed to happen because it is within his plan. Even evil things, that God didn't cause himself, he does allow to happen in order to work together for his purposes. That is why the teacher could ultimately conclude in chapter 3 of his book:
"He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor--it is the gift of God. I know that whatever God does, It shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, And nothing taken from it. God does it, that men should fear before Him" (Ecclesiastes 3:11-14).
And that is also why the Apostle Paul can tell us:
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28).
But why are we called? What is God's purpose concerning our lives? Romans 8:29 tells us: "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestine to be conformed to the image of his son..."
So, ultimately we don't waste our time on this earth if we spend it in cooperation with God's plans for for this world, which is under his sovereign rule, and if we who are his children through faith in Christ, allow him to conform us into the image of Jesus Christ, his son.
When it comes right down to the heart of the matter, there may not be enough time to do everything that we want to do in this life but there certainly are enough hours and days to do what God wants us to do. He isn't finished with any of us yet on this earth. How do we know? Because we're still here on the earth to ask the question.
It was George Whitefield who said that: "We are immortal until our work on earth is done." That is true if we give our all in service for God. But it is also true if we are no longer any use to God because we have chosen to live a life that isn't pleasing to him.
A verse that will help us to live life to its fullest and will cause us to use the time we've been given wisely while we have breath is Proverbs 3:5-6. It tells us to:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths."
And the preacher of Ecclesiastes also gives us a summary of a life well lived:
"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man" (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
For those who really want to live and not merely exist, there is no other way to go through life. And it is the most exciting adventure that a person can ever have this side of heaven. So choose your time wisely. And use it for God. You'll never regret it!
© 2018 Jeff Shirley