Have you ever used the slo-mo function on your phone? My kids like to use it during the summer when they jump in the pool. Everything slows w-a-a-y down.
Have you ever felt time move in slow motion in real life? The first time I remember this was at 14 years old. My friend had leukemia. He was only 15-years-old. He was a great kid and a tender-hearted young man. I remember to this day sitting in his basement as his mom tried to explain. When she started explaining, it was as if her words slowed to half-speed, the reality of the situation settling on me. It was a difficult season.
Nothing brings time to a stand-still more than the realization that one day our time here will come to an end. It may be surprising to some that this realization is actually an important aspect of becoming a wise person, according to the Bible.
Last month, Wisdom listened. Today, Wisdom makes the best use of time.
Life Is Short, Life is a Gift, and Life is Uncertain
We use time wisely by first realizing the nature and brevity of life. The Psalmist tells us in Psalm 90:12: So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
- Teach us – a humble Spirit of dependence to fear God and ask for His help to have a godly heart
- Number our days – we don’t know how many days we have, but implied here is that your days are indeed numbered; knowing that and being aware of it is part of what the Psalmist and other biblical writers tell us makes us value and use time well
- Gain a heart of wisdom – the ultimate goal is asking for God’s help to become more conscious of our mortality so we can be wise and spend our time devoted to God’s purposes
The problem is that most young people, through no fault of their own, have very little understanding or perspective on the Bible’s view of using time wisely.
A Young Person’s Perspective
Young people tend to be naïve or overly optimistic about time. They often:
- Assume things will always be as they are now
- Believe they can always do things later on
- Rely on the hope that things will work out somehow
- Assume things are always within their grasp to change
- Assume there will always be second and third chances
Take this example of two young men in high school:
- Kimba W. (Grew up in very difficult situation; poor, no father); took nothing for granted, humble, grateful and focused on every opportunity
- Sean M. (Olympic development team); unbelievable innate talent, but never worked at it; did not take care of his body, got in trouble, squandered his opportunities… his chances ran out
Young people are often more flippant and passive about life, opting for a “take it easy” attitude. Solomon tells us though, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” People who have been given a definite number of days tend to be very intentional about what they do because they REALIZE the precious nature of each day; they are more conscious of time.
If young people falter, despite their optimism and hopefulness, they are often careless, wasteful, indulgent, and selfish. Solomon says, “Wisdom is in the presence of the one who has understanding, but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth” (17:24).
Rarely do you hear a 15-year-old say, “Okay guys, what we need to do here is slow down, think about this, get some counsel, and make sure we are being wise about this decision.”
James’ passage addresses this way of thinking. He says that those of you who think we can make plans and assume it will work out the way we anticipate, be careful! You do not know what tomorrow will bring (Prov. 27:1). Since we don’t know, we must make the best use of the time now, today.
James tells us, “What is your life? It is a mist that appears and then vanishes. When it is cold, you can see your breath. The mist freezes, and then it’s gone.” James says that is how we must view our lives if we hope to be wise. Instead of saying, we WILL do this. We say, if the Lord wills it, we will do it. What is the difference? Recognition that you are not in control– that man devises his way, but the Lord directs his steps. If you talk to every adult in a school and ask them if they set out to be a teacher when they were in high school, most would likely say no. God is sovereign, and we would be wise to recognize His will as the path to wisdom, not carelessly and foolishly charging forward with our own selfish ambition.
Jesus taught this as well through the parable of the rich man:
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 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.” –Luke 12:13-21
The man was foolish because he believed his security and longevity was in the things he possessed, assuming they would provide him with all that he needed. But, he failed to think about the state of his soul– eternal things. Therefore, he did not make the best use of his time.
An Older Person’s Perspective
In contrast to young people, older people make the opposite set of errors. Older people tend to be cynical, suspicious, skeptical, and sarcastic:
What do those words mean? They mean older people tend to think things are never going to work out well.
They can be:
- Stuck in the past when things and people were better, did things right; nostalgic
- Hesitant or loath to try because things just don’t work out the way you want them to
- Dreamy about the future because they are jaded about the past – one day it will all be better; overly idealized
I was speaking to a man this weekend and he shared that he has always had a passion to teach history and Bible at seminary. But, he said, he would be a fool to leave his tenured position to pursue a dream like that.
To prevent us from being either foolishly naïve and cynical, the Bible tells us to make the most of our time by understanding:
- The brevity of life
- The gift of life
- The precariousness and uncertainty of life; Eph. 5
- The days are evil; be sober minded, know the will of the Lord
And lastly, to live with gratitude, “giving thanks always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Bible tells us to make the best use of our time not just by understanding but by:
- Having a biblical view of time.
- Being Grateful for everything.
- Giving our best to God TODAY – being careful with our words, weighing our actions, and doing work that glorifies God.
The remarkable thing is that despite our tendency to squander time and make plans as if our days were limitless, Jesus never wasted a single minute!
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” –John 3:16
“I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” –John 6:51
The Gospel keeps us from being foolish in two ways:
- It keeps us from thinking the future is ours alone and putting our trust in the wrong things – future opportunities and future blessings.
- It keeps us from being negative and cynical by teaching us that all of our time is precious because it has been redeemed. Our time is significant. It matters, because our lives and efforts will extend into eternity.
“…and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” – 2 Cor. 5:15
Eternity makes us bold towards time, not timid and anxious. Hence why Jesus said to not fear him who can kill the body, but him that can kill both body and soul. “Besides this, you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.” –Romans 13:11