“The present is the only time in which any duty may be done or grace received.”
A primary role of the church, and of the gospel upon which it is founded, is to prepare believers in Jesus Christ for eternity. Or, to put it more plainly, to prepare them to die. And yet death and eternity are two subjects that the church arguably seems to avoid addressing more than almost any others.
Think about it.
When was the last time you heard an expository sermon that dealt with the brevity of life or the finitude of your existence in this world?
Time is a reality for each of us.
From the moment we are conceived in our mother’s womb the providential clock of both our earthly and eternal existence begins to tick.
The former will one day come to an end, whereas the latter never will.
“When you kill time, remember that it has no resurrection.” – A.W. Tozer
There is perhaps no greater sense in which the finitude of time is more evident to us than in situations involving human life and death.
The ardor and exuberance we feel when a child is born into the world, fallen though it is (Rom. 8:19-21), is offset by the soberness of knowing that one day he or she will depart from it. Such experiences are reminders to us that indeed “time waits for no one” (as the saying goes).
Scripture has much to say on the subject of time and how we, as believers in the God who transcends time, are to make the most of it for His kingdom (Eph. 5:15-16). The very first verse in the Bible is a reference to a point in time in that, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1:1).” It is the degree to which we view time as God does that ultimately determines what we choose to do with the time He has given us (Ps. 90:12). The significance of that is that, for the Christian anyway, the concept of time is first theological then chronological.
Our problem, however, is that we are so easily seduced by the trappings and attractions of this world that we often succumb to the temptation to invert that paradigm. Consequently, we have a propensity to view time in terms of prioritizing our own purposes, plans, and goals above those which God Himself has ordained for us (Eph. 2:10).
“Time is given us to use in view of eternity.” – Henry Allan Ironside
By means of God’s common grace every person who has ever lived, regenerate and unregenerate alike, has been apportioned a certain measure of time to live on this earth. Some more than others, some less.
Ideally, that time is to be used in service to the One who gifted that time to us to begin with. Unfortunately, not everyone, including many professing Christians, appreciates that. As the Puritan missionary David Brainerd, who died of tuberculosis at age 29, lamented, “Oh, how precious is time, and how it pains me to see it slide away, while I do so little to any good purpose.” The irony of Brainerd‘s words is, though he didn’t live to see the age of 30, many today would cite him as the greatest Christian missionary who ever lived.
Brainerd’s accomplishments in the mission field were of such significance that Jonathan Edwards remarked at Brainerd’s funeral that, “He in his whole course [of life] acted as one who had indeed sold all for Christ, and had entirely devoted himself to God, and made His glory the highest end, and was fully determined to spend his whole time and strength in His service.”
Were you to die today, could the same be said of you?
“God hath given to man a short time here upon earth, and yet upon this short time eternity depends.”— Jeremy Taylor
On my desk in my office at work is a small calendar that displays the day’s date in the upper-right corner, a New Testament verse in the bottom-center, and a New Testament Greek word in the upper-left corner. I mention that because a habit or, perhaps more accurately, a “spiritual discipline,” I have is to never flip the page on the calendar to the next day’s date until I actually walk into the office that morning. I do that as a reminder to me that no day is promised, nor is it deserved, and that each new day is an unmerited gift of grace from a loving and merciful heavenly Father in whose hands are my very life and being (Acts 17:28).
“Time is the most valuable thing that a man can spend.” — Diogenes Laertius
We Christians can be rather astute at professing with our mouths what we believe about God and His Word, but that we don’t really live out in practice. That is, may have a mental cognizance or awareness of how valuable time is, but how quickly that reality escapes us as we casually go about living our daily lives (Col. 1:10-12).
“Serve God by doing common actions in a heavenly spirit, and then, if your daily calling only leaves you cracks and crevices of time, fill them up with holy service.” — Charles Haddon Spurgeon
My older brother died while in hospice of complications from HIV/AIDS at the age of 35. My father passed away from a massive heart attack at only 64 years of age while engaged in an activity you and I do every day—he walked into the bathroom and didn’t come out. My mother, who had been waiting for him to come and pick her up from work that day, ended up walking home and finding my dad’s lifeless body slumped over the bathtub.
I share those personal details with you as both a loving admonishment and encouragement to take very seriously the time God has granted you (Ps. 39:4-5).
No day is promised to you.
Not one hour.
Not one minute.
Not one second.
All of time is a gift from God.
All of it.
That time is a gift to us from God means He grants it to us at His sovereign discretion, not because we deserve it.
Don’t waste God’s time.
It is His time that you’ve been given.
Use it to serve and glorify Him, because there is coming a day when He will call you into His presence to give an account for how you spent the time He graciously gave you.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Living on Borrowed Time – sermon by John MacArthur (Grace to You)
His Suffering Sparked a Movement: David Brainerd (1718-1747) – John Piper, Desiring God