“Time, like an ever-rolling stream, bears all its sons away.” How often we sing this song, young people! How often don’t we observe that “time flies.” And yet, how often do we really stop and think about that creature–time?
The word time, you know, refers to a period, or an interval, an interval between a beginning and an end. There are limits to time-day time, night time, lunch time, exam time. All of us on earth too have a time, a life-time. That time begins at conception and ends when God calls us home, when time for us is to be no more. God gives to you and to me, according to Solomon, a time to be born, and a time to die. He gives time to rejoice and a time to weep.
Both in the Old and New Testament we are instructed concerning time and our duty to “redeem” that time. According to Ecclesiastes 3:1, we are given “a time to every purpose under heaven.” In verse 13 we are instructed that we should eat and drink and enjoy the good of our labor, for it is the gift of God. There is, however, to be judgment concerning our use of that time, for we read in verse 17 of the same chapter, “I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked; for there is a time for every purpose and for every work.” A sobering thought, isn’t it? God, the righteous Judge, looks upon us, His creatures, and judges concerning our use of His time. Sometimes as young people we find it difficult to imagine that we who have “so much time” ahead of us have to nevertheless redeem every moment of that time. We forget, until we see the coffin of a young friend or of an aged loved one, that time does bear all its sons away.
Did you ever think that you were going to die? What did you think about time then? Your view of your life and God’s time was quite different then, wasn’t it? At that moment, all those visions of time, your past joys and regrets, but especially your thoughts concerning things (usually noble things) you had not done in God’s time, flashed by your consciousness in an instant. You were shaken, and yet in time you forgot.
We need to be reminded that redeeming the time means that we are to conduct ourselves wisely in our daily walk and conversation. Paul writes in Ephesians 5:15 and 16: “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” But how foolish we often are in the way we walk. Paul says we are to walk “circumspectly,” within boundaries, the boundaries of that liberty wherewith Christ has made us free! Only the fool goes outside that line. Perhaps Solomon sums up this idea the best when in his final words in Ecclesiastes he writes, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment…whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Striving to obey that command to walk as required by God is a lifelong struggle.
Each of us can perhaps think of many examples from our own experience, when we ignored God’s command concerning time. We rebel against God who gave us our life, and we show that we want time for ourselves, for our own pleasure. We find that the wrong use of even a few moments of time has terrible consequences in our lives. These consequences are with us for the rest of our lives, whether only in our own memories, or whether obvious to all. A “good time” often is in reality a “bad time.” A careless word results in the loss of respect which our Christian friends previously had for us. Those worldly friends we chose to associate with dragged us down with them to the exact opposite of what we knew to be a Godly walk. Sometimes, in our pride, saying we are weary of well doing, we desire to “let our hair down,” saying “just this once.” As a result, we may end up bearing dire consequences of a moment of wordly lust or passion for all our lives. We cannot call back time, not even one moment in our everyday lives.
Young people, pray with me for wisdom from above that our time may indeed be valued as God’s gift to us, and that we may be stewards of that time. Then we will not walk as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time God entrusts to us. Then, too, in our prayerful seeking for guidance regarding our proper use of that time from day-to-day; we will truly experience the joy of abiding in Christ, now in time, but soon in that timeless abiding with God and the saints in perfection.