Guardian of Time (2)
The day is Yours, the night also is Yours;
You have prepared the light and the sun.
You have set all the borders of the earth;
You have made summer and winter. Psalm 74.16, 17
Never knew what they had
Susie and I enjoy watching “Antiques Road Show” on our local PBS station. I’m always impressed at the knowledge of the appraisers, their understanding of the provenance and peculiar details and beauty of the item they’re considering, and their advice about conserving and insuring these precious treasures.
I may look at a cabinet, for example, and think it’s interesting or even beautiful, but I’m sure I wouldn’t know why, or whether my judgment was reliable beyond an expression of my own taste.
But what I particularly enjoy about this program is watching the faces of people who learn, through the detailed explanations given by their appraiser, that this old piece of junk they’ve stacked books on for years is really a precious and quite valuable artifact. They never knew what they had because they didn’t understand what it was.
However, the resolve of every one of them, from that moment on, is to treat this discovered treasure with the respect it deserves.
What is time?
The time of our lives is like that. We take our time for granted, which is not to say that we don’t value it. We do, and we try to use it well for all the things we consider to be most important.
But I suspect that most of us don’t think of time as a precious gift from God, bestowed by our Creator, one moment at a time, with a specific use and purpose in mind. We have not directed our consciences to serve as guardians of time, so that we determine to make the best use of every moment for our Kingdom-and-glory calling. For us, time is just something out there, something everybody has, that we use up as the moments pass for whatever matters most, in the confident belief that we’ll always have more time to do more of the same.
But what is time, really? Can you go down to the local grocery and purchase a box of it? Can you swap some of your time with a friend so that you get better time, or, at least, time you consider to be more valuable?
And what about the time you had yesterday? Where is it? And the time for tomorrow? Why are we so certain it will be here when we need it? The question of time has captured the attention of physicists, cosmologists, philosophers, poets, and theologians from time immemorial.
Time is not only a gift of God, but also a creation of His as well. God does not exist within time; He is eternal and does not experience anything like the succession of moments we know as time. God makes time, and He gives time to His creatures, one moment at a time, every day of our lives.
Time exists somehow within God (Acts 17.27, 28) and is dependent, like everything else, upon His upholding Word (Heb. 1.3). God defines the nature of time and its proper use, and as we are being formed into the image of our Lord Jesus Christ, concern for the right use of time will feature large in our daily lives.
We measure time, from the human perspective, in various ways – seconds, minutes, days, weeks, months, years, and so forth. But these are not true quantitative measurements of some material quantity – like a half gallon jug measures a certain amount of milk. Our measures of time are more on the order of estimates (as we think of the future), experiences (with respect to the present), and records (as we think about the time that is gone by).
All time comes from the Word of God (Jn. 1.1-3), is sustained by the Word of God (Heb. 1.3), and returns – like the talents in Jesus’ parable – to its Creator and true Owner (Rom. 11.34-36). There is as yet no future time, and the time we’ve used up is gone forever; we cannot return to it.
The only time we ever have is the present moment, which is supplied for us, as an act of free grace, by the eternal God. He has a precious purpose for the time He gives us – that we might know Him, enjoy His blessings, express His glory, and demonstrate His love – but, for the most part, people squander the time God gives them for merely personal and pragmatic ends. And I suspect this is so because we do not appreciate time as the unique commodity and precious gift that it is.
Our time is not our own, just as we who know Jesus Christ are not our own (1 Cor. 6.19, 20). What we hardly think of as more than passing moments for temporal endeavors, are creations of God which He bestows as investments of eternal glory, to be used and enjoyed by creatures destined to live with Him forever.
And He has set the conscience in the soul to guard this precious treasure and see that it is properly employed.
1. What does someone mean who says, “I’m just wasting time”? Is time the sort of thing we ought to waste? Explain.
2. Meditate on 1 Corinthians 6.19, 20 and Ephesians 5.15-17. If all time is God’s time, and you belong to Him, what does this suggest about how you ought to guard the time entrusted to you each day? What’s involved in learning to guard your time for God’s glory?
3. Is it possible to remain mindful, throughout the day, that our time is a gift from God, to be used for His purposes? How would you suggest doing that?
Next steps – Preparation: Here’s a challenge for you. Review in prayer the way you spent the time allotted to you yesterday. What percentage of that time was consciously spent and consciously invested for Jesus our King and His glory? What can you do to begin improving that percentage?
T. M. Moore
All the installments in this “Strong Souls” series are available in PDF by clicking here.
For more on a Christian view of time, order a free copy of our book, Vantage Point, by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.