A valuable resource
For each one of us what resource should be extremely valuable to us? I say should be valuable to us because some of us value this particular resource more than others. It's a resource that has been given to each one of us, with some of us maybe getting a little bit more than others. It's a resource that no matter how much money you have, you can't buy any more than your allocated portion. What is this resource? Well your looking at the instrument that measures it if you look at the watch on your wrist:
The resource is time.
Time is a valuable resource because we all have only been allocated our 70 years, give or take a few years (or in the case of some of us give or take a couple of decades!). As we live our lives we find that time passes on relentlessly in a fixed rhythm:
60 seconds every minute, 60 minutes every hour.
Once time has passed we can never get it back. It's gone forever. Time is an equally shared resource. We all have 24 hours every day and seven days every week. It doesn't matter how wealthy you are, you can't buy more time.
You can't hoard time, you can't borrow time,
and... you can't change it in any way. The only thing that you can do with time is make the best use of it that you can possibly achieve.
The speed of time
If you think about your friends and relatives, they all would experience time in different ways. Time seems to move slowly when you are bored, unoccupied, or particularly impatient for something to happen. Consider the length of a minute when you are waiting for the kettle to boil, or a traffic light to turn green or for someone in your house to answer the ringing telephone. Time seems to move faster when you are busy, interested and having a “good time”.
Time also seems to accelerate. I took a two week holiday recently and found that the second week went faster than the first. You have probably found the same thing. When you start to unwind and enjoy the holiday you find that all of sudden someone seems to be tampering with the clocks to speed them up. I have heard people talk about the same thing in regard to life. Within a lifetime the second half goes quicker than the first. It has something to do with perspective. When I was at school a year seemed like a very long time. It seemed to take forever to get to the first term holidays, it took even longer to get to the second term holidays, and to get to the end of year holidays you would just forget about for you were certain it would never come.
Whereas now I am working, a year seems much faster. You have one birthday celebration and before you know it you seem to be having your next one.
I'm sure if you think about it would have similar experiences. So time is indeed as the well known historical American figure Benjamin Franklin stated:
"the stuff of which life is made".
The best use of time
With this resource being consumed at a seemingly accelerating pace even as you read this article, are you making the best use of it?
From ancient times, right through to the present day, man has been conscious of time - we either have a lifetime before us or we all are at the twelfth hour. So we must ask ourselves "What can we do best with the time we have?".
We are constantly having to decide what we shall do next. We can spend our time doing things for our self which at the end of day only gives us short-term satisfaction. Or we can spend our time doing things for God which will give us enormous long-term satisfaction. God, as our creator, left us to find out what His wish is, and to choose our own course according to our knowledge and understanding of His commands. It is essential for us to remember that the Lord God knows every act, every word and every thought. We have to keep in mind that every word, deed and thought which is contrary to God's holy law is futile.
We can, if we do not keep careful watch on ourselves, use up so much of our time on activities that are not helpful in living a life according to God’s wishes. These are activities that will hinder our progress in the work God has given us to perform.
Our God who controls our lives does not expect His servant to do more than they are able. He knows our weaknesses, but He also does expect that all who are in his service to use all the opportunities He has given them in His glory. We must act now to take those opportunities available to us, for time is always passing quickly. This is what one writer said in the Bible about time:
How long, Lord? Will you hide Yourself forever? Will Your wrath burn like fire? Remember how short my time is; For what futility have you created all the children of men? What man can live and not see death? Can he deliver his life from the power of the grave?1
We see here the writer pleading for God to return to the Israelites, for the writer argues that life is so short it does not allow for God to delay a long time.
So men who live over 3000 years ago experienced the same time pressures that we feel now. They find that their life flies by.
Moses saw life in a similar way. This is what he said:
For all our days have passed away in Your wrath; We finish our years like a sigh. The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labour and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away. 2
The people of Israel (who Moses led) had done wrong and God was angry with them. Moses is saying in the quote that life is to short for the entire time to be taken with God being wrathful towards them. Moses pleads for God to put away His wrath quickly before the people's 70 year life span is gone. Moses didn't want to see the opportunity of the people contacting God disappear as there lives passed before their eyes. Moses realised how quickly time does go. He knew how fast three score and ten years goes. He begged God to repent of his wrath against the nation of Israel before the people had lived out their full life span.
In a similar way God begs us to repent of our sins and live lives according to His laws before we find that our allocated three score and ten years is gone. Along this general line of argument both the Lord Jesus Christ and James 3 try to preach a very important principle - that principle is that when we live our lives let us not put off to tomorrow what can be done today. For we may find that one day there will be no tomorrow.
This problem of putting things off has been around for a long time. For those civilisations that lived in the past they used to use the word PROCRASTINATUS to represent this problem of putting things off. These days we use a derivation of the original Latin word, we say "Procrastination". We all seem to procrastinate on certain things in our life, some however have developed it into a art form, thinking up quite elaborate excuses as to why they can't do this task today. Some people, when they are half way through a boring task, that they never have particularly liked doing, find themselves positively willing someone to ring their phone or come to the front door so that they have a excuse not to continue with the uninspiring task.
The bad thing is that procrastination can become a habit and a way of life effectively stopping us from achieving those goals that we have set ourselves in life. We must not put off to tomorrow what can be done today. Have you been thinking about visiting an old or lonely friend…..for the past five years. Don't put it off - make arrangements to make your first visit next weekend. Have you been thinking about reading the Bible and learning more about God, then do it now! Maybe there is a Bible sitting on your book shelf, you bought or were given the Bible eight years ago and have walked past the shelf it sits on roughly three times a day - that means you have passed that book roughly nine thousand times since you bought it - isn't it time that you get it done off the shelf brush off eight years worth of dust and start reading it! It will be one of the most important things you do in your life, for it will redirect your life in the best possible direction - towards God.
One of Jesus followers known as James talks about procrastination. He says:
Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’. Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 4
The uncertainty of the future
Our life is in God's control, we can not presume to make future plans with any certainty. It would be foolish of us to put off doing something important until some future date, for that date may never come. Life is like James says - a vapour that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. In relation to God, it is too short to put off placing yourself into the position that may make you acceptable to enter that kingdom soon to be set up on this earth.
We must always remember that life is not man's eternal possession. It is a thing that our God controls. The Lord Jesus Christ illustrates this point very succinctly in the parable 5 of the rich fool. This is what he said:
Then he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’ And God said to hum, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God”. 6
This man was a man making self-satisfied plans not only for the immediate future but also for a long comfortable retirement, and then all of a sudden at once a fatal command:
"This very night your life will be demanded from you”
The man in this parable thought that the stowing away of material possessions for the future was essential to his life, but Jesus says that a man's life does not consist in wealth. A man is what he is, not what he has. This is what Jesus said:
Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. 7
True wealth is tied to the relationship you have with God. You will truly live a fulfilled life if you know God. For it is with him that the true treasure will be found.
So we need to not waste what short time God has given each one of us by amassing wealth. Rather let's use this time to amass a knowledge of the what God wants. For after all, when a man is stripped of all the worldly wealth so that he only possesses what he had when he was born, will he be poor or rich? A day of judgment is coming where God will reveal the real poverty or wealth of a man.
In each one of our lives, time is moving quickly past so let us not waste our lives away worrying overly about the cares of this world but rather let us use the short time we have to make ourselves ready for the return of Christ. Don't let us fall into the trap of putting off to tomorrow what can be done today.
This is what one wise man in the Bible said:
Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth. 8
The words of this wise man has application to us if we should plan ahead with the thinking that we are not quite ready for Christ right now, but that's okay for we have plenty of time left to prepare ourselves. If we think this way it could be a grave mistake, for as the words says we do not know what tomorrow will bring. And even if we continue to live our mortal existence tomorrow we will find that our set time on this earth will go very quickly indeed leaving us little time to prepare for the return of Christ.
In part 2 of this article we will conclude our look at time and how we can use this scarce resource effectively.
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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 April 2013