The Trouble With Time
There has always been a struggle in this world with time and its proper management. We either have too much time, and waste it, or have too little time, or we simply suffer from an inability to use our time efficiently. In any case, we need to remember a valuable lesson from Job, “Man that is born of a woman has but few days, and they are full of trouble” (Job 14:1-2). Now that is an issue, is it not? Not only are our days filled with suffering, but they are few in number. It becomes very tempting, then, to let such a precious commodity slip away in the fruitlessness of worry, stress, regret, guilt, frivolity, and bitterness.
What is the trouble with time?
I have trouble learning my frailty and the measure of my days
“I know it and yet I don’t know it,” was the way one person described his mortality. To be sure, we are all, at least, academically aware that our days are finite, but rarely to such a degree that we live in light of this fact. The attitude, especially with young people, is that age and frailty will affect other people more than it does me. We see others aging around us, getting sick, dying, succumbing to a wasted life, but feel the sense of relative immorality that always accompany youth. Yet it is my daily problem to come to grips with my frailty, as Solomon so adroitly encourages his readers in Ecclesiastes 7:1-4.
“Lord, make me to know my end, and what is the extent of my days; let me know how transient I am” (Psalm 39:4). Other translations have the psalmist asking, “Let me know how frail I am.” While it would never be healthy to literally know the time and circumstance of one’s death, the writer makes a good point about at least keeping a vigilant awareness of his own mortality. “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). Notice that having a right attitude about time is something that needs to be taught! We must cultivate an attitude that is appropriate – especially with the help of those who are older and wiser than ourselves.
I have trouble caring for my body to the end that my days are lengthened
“As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years…” (Psalm 90:10). Obviously, we cannot avoid “time and chance”, which may overtake even the strongest, swiftest, or smartest of us (Ecclesiastes 9:11-12), but we do have a responsibility to lengthen our days to the best of our ability. If by good choices (nutrition, sleeping habits, adherence to safety, cleanliness) I can prolong my days, then I have facilitated my ongoing usefulness in God’s kingdom (Philippians 1:21-26). The trouble comes when we fail to grasp this truth in our younger years! Every decision we make in youth will have an impact on us as we age. Ask yourself how your habits may prevent you from serving God in the future:
• Will this habit shorten my life expectancy?
• Will this physically-demanding sport slow me down when I want to serve God?
• Will I ever be able to get back these years spent in recklessness?
• What if I lose my life doing something neither necessary nor wise?
• What if I lose my life doing something sinful?
• Would I want to face God with this habit or lifestyle hanging over me?
• Will my wasted years be worth it when I am dying? As an aged individual, would I trade all of my foolishness as a youth for a few more years of quality living?
I have trouble redeeming the time
“Redeem the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16). Redeem means to buy back. We have already wasted too much time, therefore we need to buy back as much as we can. We spent years in sin and vanity before we were baptized, and now we must work twice as hard now that we are in Christ to make up for lost years. Besides, idleness is not for the Christian. In Matthew 20:6, the householder in the parable asks the unemployed, “Why do you stand here all day idle?” We may be quick to excuse the sin of idleness, claiming that it makes little difference, and that it cannot possibly be as serious as other sins. Interestingly enough, though, idleness is a “gateway sin”, so to speak. It facilitates many other character flaws, bad habits, and unrighteous actions. “And at the same time they learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention” (1 Timothy 5:13). When not employed in Christian industry, it is the soul’s natural tendency to gravitate toward unwholesome things. The less we fill ourselves with good work, the more time we have for bad work:
• People who will not work tend to suffer from self-pity;
• Those who are lazy in relationships end up losing them;
• A man who will not be productive loses his sense of self-worth and value;
• Instead of reading the Bible in our spare time, we read trash;
• A Sunday spent at home is a Sunday spent with the devil, excepting illness;
• A Wednesday spent at home is a Wednesday that dulls your Christianity (Proverbs 27:17);
• Instead of praying for people who bother us (Matthew 5:44-45), we waste our time resenting them.
I have trouble facing the temptation to procrastinate
The great words of the Bible are “now” and “today”. “Now is the accepted time” (2 Corinthians 6:2). “Today if you will hear His voice” (Hebrews 3:7-8). Solomon adds, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1). Jesus called one man a fool for planning big things tomorrow at the expense of neglecting his soul today (Luke 12:16-21). There are things we know we need to do now, yet we have become experts in crafting excuses!