In the book Christ’s Object Lessons we find the chapter titled “Talents” beginning on page 325. In this chapter Ellen White discusses several talents given to God’s people.
“The talents that Christ entrusts to His church represent especially the gifts and blessings imparted by the Holy Spirit.” Op. Cit., 327.
In addition to the gifts given by the Holy Spirit, there are other talents Mrs. White refers to as “gifts and endowments, whether original or acquired, natural or spiritual.” Op. Cit., 328. These include:
- development of your mental faculties
- speech – this involves more than an ability to speak in public, but how we speak in general
- influence – how we live, as well as how we speak
- kindly impulses and affections; and
The focus of this article is the talent of time. How many of us have actually thought of time as being a talent? If you’ve not read this chapter in Christ’s Object Lessons before, it is likely you haven’t thought of it in that way.
Our time on this earth is limited. It is a probationary time to be used specifically for character development. Ellen White tells us, “A character formed according to the divine likeness is the only treasure that we can take from this world to the next. Those who are under the instruction of Christ in this world will take every divine attainment with them to the heavenly mansions. And in heaven we are continually to improve. How important, then, is the development of character in this life.
“The heavenly intelligences will work with the human agent who seeks with determined faith that perfection of character which will reach out to perfection in action. To everyone engaged in this work Christ says, I am at your right hand to help you.
“As the will of man co-operates with the will of God, it becomes omnipotent. Whatever is to be done at His command may be accomplished in His strength. All His biddings are enablings.” Op. Cit., 332, 333.
Doesn’t that make how we spend our time extremely important? And could it be said that how we spend our time can be an indicator of what our relationship is with Jesus Christ? Time spent is time gone. There is no other talent of which God requires a more “strict account.”
If we are not spending our time in the business of becoming more and more like Christ every day, then we are wasting that time. And as we draw nearer and nearer to His second coming, that simply means less time to get ready, maybe even not enough time. So, on what are we spending our time?
The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 3:18 that what we look at, spend our time on, is what we will become. Mrs. White says it this way: “As the mind dwells upon Christ, the character is molded after the divine similitude. The thoughts are pervaded with a sense of His goodness, His love. We contemplate His character, and thus He is in all our thoughts. His love encloses us. If we gaze even a moment upon the sun in its meridian glory, when we turn away our eyes, the image of the sun will appear in everything upon which we look. Thus it is when we behold Jesus; everything we look upon reflects His image, the Sun of Righteousness. We cannot see anything else, or talk of anything else. His image is imprinted upon the eye of the soul, and affects every portion of our daily life, softening and subduing our whole nature. By beholding, we are conformed to the divine similitude, even the likeness of Christ. To all with whom we associate we reflect the bright and cheerful beams of His righteousness. We have become transformed in character; for heart, soul, mind, are irradiated by the reflection of Him who loved us, and gave Himself for us. …
“Jesus Christ is everything to us—the first, the last, the best in everything. Jesus Christ, His Spirit, His character, colors everything; it is the warp and the woof, the very texture of our entire being. The words of Christ are spirit and life. We cannot, then, center our thoughts upon self; it is no more we that live, but Christ that liveth in us, and He is the hope of glory. Self is dead, but Christ is a living Saviour.” The Faith I Live By, 150.
So, if this is not the way I am living my life, if Jesus is not everything to me, then shouldn’t I wonder if I am spending my time on the wrong things? We are told that we are what we eat. The Bible says we are that to which we surrender. “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness” (Romans 6:16)?
This world offers so many things–things that many of us have spent a lifetime doing, believing that those things weren’t that bad, and maybe they aren’t, in and of themselves. But were we, are we, doing them at the expense of spending the time in God’s word, in prayer, in witnessing, in caring for our fellow man? How much time have we spent and will never have back? “… time squandered can never be recovered. We cannot call back even one moment. The only way in which we can redeem the time is by making the most of that which remains.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 342.
How much time do we spend on social media or watching TV, reading materials or books or listening to music that do nothing to uplift our souls to God, playing games, time spent on the computer, even at work or exercising (which is important to be healthy, but can also become an idol)? Brothers and Sisters, are we spending the time getting ready for heaven as if that’s the only thing we want or are we doing what we want and if there is any time left, we give it to God? We go to church, maybe prayer meeting, too. Maybe we have a quick few minutes in the morning to read a short devotional and say a few words of thanks for God’s protection during the night and then it’s off to work. And at the end of the day, we might read a little or pray a little if we can stay awake long enough. Isn’t it time to do some self-examination of our lives? We should listen to what we say, look carefully at what we do and even what we don’t do. We must consider what really matters to us in light of eternity.
If we want to be like Jesus, how can we be if we don’t spend any time getting to know Him? Mrs. White says that we should spend, every day, a thoughtful hour studying the life of Christ. Do I? Do you? Do the things we choose to spend our time doing keep us from spending time with Him? It’s an important question because even many of the good things that we do, the way we do them, can keep us from strengthening our personal relationship with Jesus. Can you comprehend that? Unless we have a personal relationship with Jesus first, nothing we do, even if it’s good, will be of value. Without Jesus, we can do nothing, we are nothing. John 15:4–6 says, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”
I have said this many times: Jesus’ coming is no longer near. It is here. Many of us have spent our whole lives doing what we wanted to do and, consequently, have done very little to be ready for that day. We have spent our lives soothing ourselves with the idea that Jesus has been coming for centuries. He may not come in my lifetime either. But what we fail to remember is that our days are numbered. It is true that any one of us may die before Christ comes, but only God knows when that day is. Doesn’t it behoove us then to get ready and be ready every day, lest that day come and when weighed in the balance, we are found wanting, with our name blotted out of the Book of Life?
We must understand that “the value of time is beyond computation.” As with our whole life, our time belongs to God. Our life, our time, our possessions, everything that deals with man belongs to God, loaned to man with the expectation of development and improvement. Jesus said, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you” (John 15:16).
“Every moment is freighted with eternal consequences. …
“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. … Every man and woman who is truly converted will be a diligent worker” Christ’s Object Lessons, 343.
Earth’s probation is almost over. Our probationary time on this earth could end at any moment. God is withdrawing His sustaining hand. Now is the time to turn away from the things of this world. Now is the time to surrender to God and plead for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The time we have spent is gone. All we have is now.
“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” (Romans 13:11).
[All emphasis supplied]
Judy Rebarchek is a member of the LandMarks team. She can be contacted at: email@example.com