Little Things (3)
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5.15, 16
Billions and billions
It can be mind-boggling to look up at the night sky on a clear, moonless evening, and consider that many of the points of light we see represent not just stars or planets, but whole constellations, filled with billions and billions of stars. Billions and billions of constellations and billions and billions of stars.
It is just as mind-boggling to contemplate the moments of time God invests in our lives. The person who lives to be 80 years old will have run through 2,522,880,000 seconds during the course of his life. That’s a lot of moments, a good many hours and days – each one personally sent as a gift from God and as an investment intended for His glory.
But precisely because they are so small and so many, it’s possible we may not prize the moments of our lives as fully as God intends. As Jonathan Edwards noted in his sermon on The Preciousness of Time, “When God created you, and gave you reasonable souls, He made you for an endless duration. He gave you time here in order to a preparation for eternity.”
We don’t typically think of time as an investment – billions and billions of seconds and minutes, fraught with potential for glorifying God. Again, Edwards:“How little is the preciousness of time considered, and how little sense of it do the greater part of mankind seem to have!” Time is such a little thing, and we tend to mold the time of our lives into infinitely varied routines of work, rest, and re-creation. The one constant all people share in common is that we never seem to have as much time as we need.
Edwards was correct when he wrote, “upon time we should set a high value, and be exceeding careful that it be not lost.” Every moment of time, all those billions and billions of seconds, not received as gifts and invested for God’s glory will be lost to the evil of our day, frittered away, wasted, used to honor self rather than God, and thus squandered, when they might have been improved for God’s glory in many ways.
No time to spare
The Christian is called to do everything for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10.31). And, since everything we might ever do must be done in time, that makes the time of our lives especially precious. As Edwards observed, “Time is so short, and the work which we have to do in it is so great, that we have none of it to spare. The work which we have to do to prepare for eternity, must be done in time, or it never can be done; and it is found to be a work of great difficulty and labor, and therefore that for which time is the more requisite.”
God gives us the time of our lives. Do we suppose that He has no purpose in doing so, other than to allow us to amuse ourselves as seems best to us? No, God gives us the moments of our lives as an investment, a gift which He invites us to receive and use in line with His purposes. But we must make the moments of our days count for what God intends. And we must make up our minds to do so well in advance of receiving this most precious gift, or it will be gone through our fingers before we can employ it for our Kingdom-and-glory calling: “Every part of [time] is successively offered to us, that we may choose whether we will make it our own, or not. But there is no delay. It will not wait upon us to see whether or no we will comply with the offer. But if we refuse, it is immediately taken away, and never offered more.”
We need to manage time like the profitable servants in the parable of the talents, seeking by every means to redeem the time God gives us, so that He will be glorified in every moment of our lives. Edwards reminds us, “you are accountable to God for your time. Time is a talent given us by God; He hath set us our day; and it is not for nothing. Our day was appointed for some work; therefore He will, at the day’s end, call us to an account. We must give account to Him of the improvement of all our time.”
From the fleeting moments of our lives, big returns for God’s glory can be realized, if, following Paul’s instruction, we will redeem the time He gives us. We redeem our time when we use the moments, hours, and days of our lives consciously for Christ and His Kingdom, praying that His Kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven, working to bring His righteousness, peace, and joy to light in all the niches and nooks of our lives, and offering testimony, thanksgiving, and praise to the Lord increasingly.
In Edwards’ terms, we must begin to improve our time, just like developers improve real estate by taking what is given and building permanence, beauty, and utility upon it. Edwards offers three suggestions for improving our time.
“First, improve the present time without any delay.” Paul would say “walk circumspectly” or pay more attention to each moment, how you’re using it, what you seek of it, and how it will return to the Lord Who gave it to you in the first place. Be more conscious of how you use each moment of time, by fixing your mind on the things that are above, and not on things that are below (Col. 3.1-3).
“Second, be especially careful to improve those parts of time which are most precious. Though all time is very precious, yet some parts are more precious than others; as, particularly, holy time is more precious than common time.” Make more of the time you have with the Lord. Look for ways to enrich your times of reading and study, prayer, singing, worship, and listening for the Spirit. Take your “holy time” into the ordinary time of your life by learning to pray without ceasing and to sing to the Lord throughout the day.
Finally, work hard to improve everything you use or do in time, that the goodness, grace, truth, and excellence of the Lord might be seen in it: “You have need to improve every talent, advantage, and opportunity, to your utmost, while time lasts…” This includes planning the time of your life each day, seeking the Lord for guidance, wisdom, and power to do the work He has appointed for you in the time He gives you (Ps. 90.12, 16, 17).
In your life you will have more of time than of anything else with which to glorify the One Who created and redeemed you. Time may be a little thing, but fill it with the presence, purpose, power, and glory of God, and much of the reality and wonder of Christ’s Kingdom will shine forth.
Little is much when God is in it!
Labor not for wealth or fame.
There’s a crown and you can win it;
If you go in Jesus’ Name.
1. What does it mean to “walk circumspectly” with respect to the time of our lives? How do you practice this?
2. If we don’t improve the time God gives us, what do we do with it?
3. Suggest some ways to improve the time you have with the Lord each day.
T. M. Moore
Forward today’s ReVision to a friend, and encourage your friend to subscribe.
This week’s study is part 1 of a 3-part series, The Small Stuff. Each part consists of seven lessons and is available as a free PDF download at the end of the study. In the tag for part 7, we’ll give you a link to download part 1, “Little Things.” Why not line up some friends to study through all three parts of this series?
If you value ReVision as a free resource for your walk with the Lord, please consider supporting our work with your gifts and offerings. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.
Kittie L. Suffield, “Little is Much”