Time is a talent. Each person born has been granted a certain amount for which they are accountable. One of the most important verses in the whole Bible about time is found in John 9:4 where Jesus said, “I must work the works of Him Who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.” No matter how old you are, whether young or old, there are some things that you are able to do now that you will not be able to do in the future. No longer am I able to say to my deceased mother, “I love you.” There were many days that I could say that, but no more.
“And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He [Jesus] went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.” Mark 11:13. For everything, even the fig tree, there is a best time or season. Timing is everything. There is an opportune time, and then there is another time that is not the right time. There are things that are right when you are 30 that are not right when you are 15. There are things that are right when you are 18 that are not right when you are 9. It is often the timing that makes the difference. When Jesus approached the fig tree it was not the right time for the figs to appear. There is a time to plant and a time to reap. There is a time to work and there is a time to sleep. There is a time to eat. Part of maturing is to become wise in regard to discerning the right time for what you need or want to do.
In Luke 22:37, the Bible says, “For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors,’ For the things concerning Me have an end.” Jesus said, “The things concerning Me have an end.” This world is temporal and everything in it has an end. It is true that everyone, whether two or ninety-two, will one day reach the last day that they will live in this world. Even for those who are alive when Jesus comes, a time will come when it will be the last day that they will live in this world. Knowing that everything in this world comes to an end should regulate the way we think and plan in regard to the use of our time.
Romans 13:11 and 12 tell us, “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.” Paul says that first we need to know the time. Most people in this world do not know the time, but if you are a Christian, you should be aware that it is time to wake up out of a Laodicean slumber.
When I was a teenager, my uncle, a building contractor, would sometimes stay with my family. I can still hear him rallying the household with his loud voice saying, “It’s time to roll out. Do you know what time it is?” No one was allowed to sleep past 7:00 a.m.
Paul said, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15, 16.
“Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near at hand.” “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.” Revelation 1:3, 19.
The book of Revelation is about things that are in the present and what will be in the future. To regulate your time you need to understand what you need to do today, as well as have plans about the future, for next week, next month, and next year.
In the book Christ’s Object Lessons, page 342, Ellen White talks about the talent of time. Following are different facts in regard to time:
How is your time spent?
Most important is to understand that we are accountable to God for how our time is spent. “Our time belongs to God. Every moment is His, and we are under the most solemn obligation to improve it to His glory. Of no talent He has given will He require a more strict account than of our time.”
That statement makes most people tremble for almost all of us have wasted some time in the past. In the day of final judgment God is going to require a strict account of how the time He has given us has been used. It will be a fearful day for those who have used their time only in pleasing themselves.
“Those who choose to neglect the great salvation offered to them freely, who choose to serve themselves and remain enemies of God, enemies of the self-sacrificing Redeemer, are earning their wages. They are sowing to the flesh, and will of the flesh reap corruption.” The Bible Echo, September 19, 1898. The devil delights in those who serve themselves and claims them as his own.
Jesus is the Christian’s example. “For even Christ did not please Himself.” Romans 15:3. Jesus did not live for Himself. If that were the case He would not have come to this world as a poor man and been born in Bethlehem in a cow barn. If He had lived for Himself, He would have never consented to fast for six weeks in the wilderness or spend day and night helping people, even when He was tired and hungry. If He had lived for Himself, He would not have been willing to sleep outdoors when nobody had invited Him into his house to share the home comforts.
If Jesus had lived for Himself, He certainly would never have consented to go the cruel cross and die the death of the worst of criminals, but for our sakes, He was not self-serving. On the day of final judgment will the recording angel be able to say, “According to the record, this person has spent his/her life living to try to help other people,” or sadly report that he/she lived for himself/herself? We must give an account to God for our time. Those who are saved will have lived to help others.
The value of time.
How much is your time worth? When I was a small boy, my father would tell me this story to teach me a lesson. He said there were three bricklayers working on a building. A person came up to the first bricklayer and said, “What are you doing?” He said, “I’m earning $1.75 an hour.” His interest was only in collecting his pay.
When the second bricklayer was asked, he said, “I am laying brick.” This man saw no further than the immediate task; he was simply laying brick.
He then came to the third bricklayer and asked him, “What are you doing?” He replied, “I am building a temple.”
How do you see the work that you do and how would you describe what you are doing with your time? God has given us our job; it is to help people get ready for the kingdom of heaven. Time is so valuable that it cannot be measured and infinitely valuable when used to lead someone to Jesus.
“The value of time is beyond computation. Christ regarded every moment as precious, and it is thus that we should regard it. Life is too short to be trifled away. We have but a few days of probation in which to prepare for eternity. We have no time to waste, no time to devote to selfish pleasure, no time for the indulgence of sin. It is now that we are to form characters for the future, immortal life. It is now that we are to prepare for the searching judgment.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 342.
Redeeming the time.
See Ephesians 5:16. The first thing to understand about redeeming time is that there is absolutely nothing you can do to redeem wasted time. Whatever age you are you cannot change one particle of how you spent one minute of the past. The only way that time can be redeemed is to use it more efficiently now and in the future. The past is forever gone.
Taking time to witness.
Are you witnessing concerning your faith, your religion, and your hope for the future? Are you looking for opportunities to tell others about Jesus and His love for them? “Now is our time to labor for the salvation of our fellow men. There are some who think that if they give money to the cause of Christ, this is all they are required to do …” Ibid., 343. There are many Adventists like that. Some work 80 hours a week and earn so much money that they want to give money so that others can do the witnessing. Well, notice what Ellen White says about this: “The precious time in which they might do personal service for Him passes unimproved. But it is the privilege and duty of all who have health and strength to render to God active service. All are to labor in winning souls to Christ. Donations of money cannot take the place of this.” Ibid. It is not enough for me to say, “I’m going to work hard and earn so much, that I’ll be able to give money to get the … .” No, no! It is not God’s plan to work and earn what money I can and then pay someone else to go and win the souls.
There are people you can reach that your husband, or your wife, or your parents, or your children cannot reach. Young people can often reach people that older people cannot reach. You cannot buy your way into heaven. There are people that God wants you to reach personally.
Who is the person God has put in your pathway? Witnessing involves more than just giving out literature or giving Bible Studies. If you pray for guidance, the Lord might show you many other things that you could do to witness. It would be tragic to come to the day of judgment and say, “O, I didn’t take very much time to witness to anybody.” It will be too late then to do what is possible right now.
How is your time being spent?
Jesus once said to His disciples, “Watch out that you do not become overcharged, overburdened with feasting, and the cares of this life, and that day overtake you unawares.” Luke 21:34 (literal translation).
For many people, especially the middle class, the whole day from early morning to late at night is taken up with just making a living. Many are working two or three jobs to bring in enough money to pay for their luxurious lifestyle. They make the mistake of being so busy with the cares of this life they just don’t have much time to prepare for eternity.
“Life is too solemn to be absorbed in temporal and earthly matters, in a treadmill of care and anxiety for the things that are but an atom in comparison with the things of eternal interest. Yet God has called us to serve Him in the temporal affairs of life. Diligence in this work is as much a part of true religion as is devotion.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 343.
Being a Christian does not mean that you will not have to make a living and manage your worldly business, but that must never become so all-absorbing that no time is spared to prepare for eternity.
The rich young ruler that met Jesus was not a crimina; he was a good man. He did not break the law. Everybody respected him. He was just totally absorbed in this world. Jesus tried to cut him loose, but he did not want to be freed and left Jesus sorrowful for he had many possessions.
It is a great mistake for any adult or young person to be idle. In fact, “The Bible gives no endorsement to idleness. It is the greatest curse that afflicts our world.” Ibid.
It is because of idleness that there is such an avalanche of crime in America today. Idleness was one of the main reasons Sodom and Gomorrah got into the trouble they did. Read Ezekiel 16:49.
The devil has his greatest success with men and women, boys and girls when they have idle time and nothing practical to occupy them. Parents must make it their duty to keep their children productively occupied, teaching them to be productive, for idleness leads to every kind of crime.
Efficient use of time.
About a hundred and seventy years ago there was a young boy growing up in Illinois by the name of Abraham Lincoln. His family was very poor and he had to spend early morning till evening working out in the field. After supper when the rest of the family retired after a long day’s work Abraham would light a fire, either in the lamp or in the stove, so that he could read. He hungered for knowledge and those who knew him said he devoured every book available for him to borrow or find in the community.
“The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.” Education, 296.
It is especially important that while still young the lesson is learned how to most efficiently use your time.
Habits of order, thoroughness, and dispatch in your use of time.
“Upon the right improvement of our time depends our success in acquiring knowledge and mental culture. … A few moments here and a few there, that might be frittered away in aimless talk; the morning hours so often wasted in bed; the time spent in traveling on trams or railway cars, or waiting at the station; the moments of waiting for meals, waiting for those who are tardy in keeping an appointment—if a book were kept at hand, and these fragments of time were improved in study, reading, or careful thought, what might not be accomplished. …
“It is the duty of every Christian to acquire habits of order, thoroughness, and dispatch. There is no excuse for slow bungling at work of any character.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 343, 344.
“By tact and method, some will accomplish as much in five hours as others do in ten.” Ibid., 344. How long does it take you to get done with the job? Diligent people learn to use their time more efficiently.
One of the problems in today’s society is that parents do not understand that their children need to be occupied all day long every day with something that is worthwhile. “Parents should teach their children the value and right use of time. …
“Parents cannot commit a greater sin than to allow their children to have nothing to do. The children soon learn to love idleness, and they grow up shiftless, useless men and women. When they are old enough to earn their living, and find employment, they work in a lazy, droning way, yet expect to be paid as much as if they were faithful.” Ibid., 345.
Many people have been ruined because they didn’t learn how to work when they were growing up. Concerning children: “Lack of employment and of steadfast purpose opens the door to a thousand temptations.” Ibid.
Many children are left unsupervised for lengthy periods while both parents have to work to meet their financial commitments. A way must be determined that they have plenty to keep them occupied all day long. This does not always have to be work, but it does need to be useful activities so that the children can develop into happy and healthy citizens.
The other time extreme.
Many years ago I read in inspired writings that we should not try to do two days’ work in one. “Let no one labor to the point of exhaustion, thereby disqualifying himself for other duties. Do not try to crowd two days’ work into one. All should use their strength wisely, and at the end those who work carefully and wisely will be found to have accomplished as much as those who so expend their physical and mental strength that they have no deposit from which to draw in a time of need.” The Signs of the Times, August 5, 1897.
It is very easy for man to go to extremes but we must find the right balance. Often in zeal to accomplish one thing, something else just as important gets neglected.
“You must learn to give up your will and your way, and to receive light from those whom God has made His helping hand, those by whom He designs that you shall be helped. Go to Christ for relief. Cling to Him. Stay long enough to yield up your will to the will of God. Many are in too great a hurry to pray. With hurried steps they pass through the shadow of Christ’s loving presence, pausing perhaps for a few moments within the sacred precincts, but not waiting for counsel. They have no time to sit down, no time to remain with the divine Teacher. With their burdens, they return to their work.” This Day With God, 154.
Most important is to take time each morning before the hustle of the day begins to sit down and receive some instruction from the divine Teacher. The time spent with your Maker will never be wasted and you can move on with the activities of each day laying all of your burdens at the foot of His cross. With the right allocation of time you will be amazed at what you are able to accomplish.
(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church of Free Seventh-day Adventists in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.