(A Stewardship Article by Yvonne Cummins, Willesden SDA Church – July 2022)
What is time? It’s difficult to describe but perhaps indicates that things are constantly occurring and changing, without anyone intervening (the time and tide wait for no man idea). When did time commence? The Bible states “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1). Beginning implies the start of a time recording system. As God creates, we are introduced to night and day, and the notion that morning and evening constitutes a day. So He is the author of time, without being subjected to the limits of time – He is Immortal!
Time is on a continuum, for after the flood the Lord God Himself ordained: “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” (Genesis 8:22)
Time cannot be escaped! In fact it is “inflicted” on us from the beginning and virtually everything around us reminds of time – we wear timepieces, clock in and out of work, and so on. At our birth, a birth certificate is issued, indicating that we are born at a certain time, on a specific day and month of a particular year. And as we know, time is measured – seconds, become minutes, minutes convert to hours and hours into days, days into months and months into years. And as most of us become familiar with life, we begin to recognise that every day is a countdown to death. Upon death someone will be issued with our death certificate stating the time, date and circumstances of our death.
We also know that tomorrow will become today (if an extra day is granted us), and today will transform to yesterday (and history). Every day we live then, is history in the making. And even, if tomorrow is not granted to us, life has taught us that there will be a tomorrow. What we commit to history through our decision making, generally speaking, cannot be undone, therefore we need to be careful how we use it (time) and make it count!! Good news – the righteousness of Jesus undoes our sins when we repent, and God forgets them (Hebrews 8:12).
So, we are born and die, and the baton of life passes from one generation to the next, similar to a relay. But we are not simply born for the sake of living and dying, God who created time wants us to redeem time, using every opportunity to do good and to have thankful hearts (Ephesians 5:15-20). Therefore, we are not to waste it consumed with trivial pursuits!
Each person is assigned a day in which to die – each of us has a timeline. Psalm 90:10, gives the average lifespan of a human as 70 years, extending to 80 years, if we are strong (implying that there are things which might be done to enhance longevity – the application of health
laws, perhaps). Within the timeline of life, God has promised to extend the life of individuals who honour their parents (Exodus 20:12). One thing is certain, we are finite beings, and none of us knows the time assigned for us to die, hence the Psalmist requests of God: “… teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
Using the example of ants, Proverbs 6:6-11 implores us not to be lazy, but to structure/utilise our time well. And in Luke 12:16-20 Jesus warns us not to be like the foolish rich man who stored up much riches, and even planned his retirement, but did not plan a relationship with God. “But God said unto him, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall all these things be, which thou hast provided?” (Luke 12:20). This reminds us to first seek the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all our needs will be supplied. (Matthew 6:33)
We might even be involved in very meaningful, essential activities, but with the wrong emphasis. This is clearly portrayed in the story related in Luke 10:38-42 where Martha is busy making food preparations etc. for Jesus, whilst her sister, Mary, sits at Jesus’ feet listening to His every word. Martha complains to Jesus about the stance taken by Mary, which she considers as unreasonable behaviour. However, Jesus tells her that Mary’s choice is better. So, prioritise time for God.
Because: “… God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16); crucially, time is set in motion for us to repent of our sins. Of repentance time, there is only now, and 2 Corinthians 6:2 reminds us “…behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” Further, Hebrews 3:15 warns “Today, if you hear His voice, harden not your hearts…”
Simply put, time is now; tomorrow is not promised, therefore we need to review whether we have accepted God’s gift of salvation, which will determine whether we spend ceaseless time (eternity) in God’s presence in the new earth.
Jesus is coming again, and no-one has knowledge of the timing, but He states “Behold I come quickly….” (Revelations 22:20). Here again, we see time reflected, as quickly implies speed, which is related to time.
There is so much more that could be said about time, the subject is vast, but this reflection is intended to be brief, so as Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us that there are times to engage in specific matters, it’s time to bring this reflection to its closure. Be smart as ants and utilise time well! And like Mary, let the word, presence and focus of God dominate your time.