If you google “quotes on the value of time” you will have at least 700 million results. This reflects the general sentiment that time is precious and valuable. Time can even be said to be more valuable than money because, not only can it never be found again when lost, money cannot be used to buy more time or turn back time.
We know that time was created by God. We see time given by God as having the ability to accomplish what we hope to do (“I had the time to finish my work before the deadline.”), or in terms of the continuation of our physical existence (“I’m so thankful that God gave me more time by healing me from my illness.”)
The passing of time often catches us unawares, hence, the oft-used term “time flies”. When we do not consider that time is passing us, and the importance of using time wisely, we end up wasting it. If we knew for a certainty that we only had 24 hours left on this earth, what would we be spending our time on? God reminds us that our time here is finite, we do not have an endless supply of it. In James 4:14, we are reminded that our time on this earth is so transient, it is likened to vapour that disappears immediately. In the midst of our busy lives, it is easy to forget to consider how we are using our time. In Luke 10:38-42, we are familiar with the scene of Mary and Martha hosting Jesus and His disciples in their home. Although Martha is often criticized, I do think that many of us are just like her: she was not deliberately ignoring Jesus, but she forgot her overarching purpose of wanting to honor Christ, and instead got distracted by the here-and-now of being a good hostess. Similarly, we too have experienced having spent a whole week on the here-and-now: stressing about work deadlines, and rushing about from task to task, while forgetting our purpose of being followers of Christ – until Sunday comes. These are not bad things inherently – it is good to work hard at the things we do, to be responsible, and to provide for our loved ones. However, we must be careful not to let our time be consumed by things that only pertain to our physical needs without due consideration of our spiritual needs.
During His ministry, Jesus knew that His limited time on earth was to be spent doing the will of God, in seeking and saving the lost (John 9:4). However Jesus wasn’t rushing around from place to place, preaching endlessly from day to night. He also spent time alone with God (Matthew 14:23), to speak to strangers (John 4:7-27), and to hold and bless the little children (Mark 10:16). In today’s frenetic society, we often admit to being busy, sometimes with a hint of pride. If our time is spent on being hyperproductive and busy, we will end up with stress and burnout. In Colossians 4:5-6, Paul exhorts the brethren to redeem the time, or, to make the best use of time by being an example of wisdom to those who are not in the faith, in both conduct and speech. It means that in any opportunity we have in interacting with those who are not in the faith, we can glorify God through the godly wisdom He gives to us (James 1:5). We can do this when we are having coffee with our colleague, meeting up with our friends or interacting with a stranger on our commute.
Time is indeed so precious. Each morning, God gives us the daily blessing of time - to be with our loved ones, and to accomplish the tasks we set out to do. Most importantly, He gives us time to repent from our sins and the time for us to reach out to the lost (2 Peter 3:9). Let us use our gift of time wisely!