Essence of Time
by Dr. Ken Matto
Time is not the measurement of days or years, nor is it the measurement of a person’s achievements. Time is the measurement of our mortality! In the 1960’s the Rolling Stones wrote a song called "Time is on my side." If one analyzes that statement they would seriously conclude that time is not on the side of any human being rather each tick of the clock reveals the only condition that the entire human race in all its collective wisdom cannot challenge. Benjamin Franklin said, "Do not squander time for that is the stuff life is made of." Think of how many times the clock has ticked since he made that statement over 200 years ago.
I was pondering the subject of time last Saturday when I realized I had squandered the entire day without accomplishing anything except doing my father’s taxes which took a whole half hour. I had realized that I lost 8 hours of something which cannot be recycled nor reclaimed. Now there are times when we have to rest or put our feet up to break a busy schedule because we are still in physical bodies which tire. This year I will turn 48 years old. Even when I look at that number I cannot believe how fast my life is going and how much of it is gone. Yet time evokes a stark reality that nothing else on earth can match. When a person talks about their careers or jobs they normally don’t focus on the job but they will tell you how long they have been at their job. Time is the central focus of all living things because each life span is described by the length of time it lives. Humans are strange creatures, the young talk about when they get older what they are going to do and the old talk about what they did when they were young. Not too many people talk of the now because we are trained to put our lives on hold until we retire. It is known as the "corporate mind-set." I give all my strengths and talents to my company and the best 40 years of my life and then I retire and if there is anything left, I can do what makes me happy.
What about we Christians? How do we view the subject of time? Do we suffer from the corporate mind-set? I will work for 40 years and then give God the leftovers. The problem with that ridiculous line of thinking is suppose you don’t make it to retirement? Then what will be your spiritual legacy? What have you done to leave the gospel to the future generations? Here is the stark reality about the corporate mind-set, If you die on the job you will be missed for a short while only because someone else cannot do your job as yet. Soon they will hire some 21 year old right out of college who will work twice the hours for half the salary and you will then be nothing but an old statistic in a manila folder in the back of a four drawer cabinet waiting to be stored in the dustiest section of the warehouse in a bankers box. This will never happen to the active Christian because God made a promise concerning those who energetically serve Him.
(Heb 6:10 KJV) For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
When God saves a person, He does not expect nor will He accept the corporate mind-set. God saves us and expects us to get busy in the Kingdom of God, even if it is folding the bulletins for the Sunday Service. There is no such thing as a puny work in the Kingdom of God. Can you imagine God saving someone at the age of 21 and that person having the mind-set of waiting 40 years to serve God? Unfortunately many Christian parents add to this mind-set by advising their children to get a good education and then get a good job. The suggestion of a life in the ministry is absent from much Christian counsel to the young. How many Christian parents would be proud of their child if they became president of a company or started a successful business? This would be a bragging right in all the social circles. How many parents would consider it a bragging right if their child decides to go the mission field to try and plant a church in a remote region of the world?
No matter what our vocation is, we are to serve God through it. We are not to put off our ministries to some future time. Each child of God is endowed with a spiritual gift and we are to use it and not bank it like an IRA until we retire. The Bible has much to say about the proper use of time so let us look at a few admonishments concerning time.
Occupy till the Lord Returns
(Luke 19:13 KJV) And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.
The word "occupy" in this verse means "to trade or do business." The master entrusted some of his wealth to his servants and expected to see an increase in his wealth when he returned. As the narrative goes, two out of the three servants which were summoned before the master gained increase but the third one gained nothing because he did nothing. This narrative is in the Bible to warn Christians that they are to be active in their Christian life and not to have their lives add up to a big zero, which will happen if they live under the umbrella of the corporate mind-set. We have only a certain amount of years on earth and we need to be in the business of the Master. This parable also tells us the nature of the Kingdom of God. If we go forth with the gospel there will be an increase in the number of saved but if we bury our spiritual gifts there will be no increase. (Acts 11:24 KJV) For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord. What an epitaph!
Time is Allotted
(Eccl 3:1 KJV) To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
In Ecclesiastes 3:1-11, the word "time" is used 30 times. These verses tell us that life is broken up into small parcels yet is a continuous flow. God has apportioned the time He gave us for a variety of different events. As we look at the list in these verses, each item is capable of becoming a major factor in our life and can turn it upside down if we are not preparing ourselves for these events. When a life is being lived unto itself, it makes no preparations to serve the Lord. This is why God must create situations in our lives to break us out of the "me only" cocoon and start serving the Lord. I remember some years ago when I was on the Corporation Board at America’s Keswick there was a plan to build the Keswick Activity Center and I served as a Captain in an area to raise funds. My responsibility was to seek out those who went to Keswick conferences and liked the ministry to see if they would like to help in raising funds for the Activity Center. When I made phone calls, I received more excuses as to why they couldn’t even volunteer to help out. One person told me "his" time was too complicated to get involved. When we have attitudes like this do we wonder why God throws us into the furnace of adversity to try and uncomplicate our lives so we may serve Him. For every five minutes we have free, Satan will be glad to throw us six minutes of work.
(Luke 14:18-20 KJV) And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. {19} And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. {20} And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.
These three verses give us three major time absorptions for people not to serve the Lord. Ground=Property; Oxen=Possessions; Wife=Family.
Whenever we buy a house or some other domicile, we could spend countless hours on it at the beginning and there is a lot of legitimacy to that, but when it becomes an obsession whereby every new gadget must be placed in there or every home improvement must be done so time is eaten up and especially on weekends when the outside of the house must be cared for such as the grass, garden, and landscaping. Owning a piece of property is very time consuming and can literally eat up every spare minute you have. If you have a desire to serve the Lord during the best years of your life, you need to really ponder whether an apartment might do you better where the landlord does all the landscaping. Of course, you can own a house but determine to live simply in it without partaking in a neighborhood "keeping up with the Joneses" war.
Another area of life which can totally absorb the time you have is the allegiance to possessions. This could include a car, a big screen TV entertainment center, computer, etc. If one is going to serve the Lord during the best years of their life, there must be a limit to the amount of possessions one owns so there is a limit on maintenance and upgrades. All one need do is look at the world of computers. There are new add ons and gadgets and speeds being produced every month. If you dedicate your life to your possessions, at the end of 50 years you will have possessions but you will have allowed the best years of your life to pass by and your gospel outreach will be a dismal failure.
Another area which can absorb our time is family. If you have children, then you know they are a 24 hour assignment and God expects parents to take care of their children but He does not expect that the children are the masters of the house when it comes to a spiritual life. I have known some families in the past who have allowed their children to dictate their Sunday life. Have you ever noticed that Hockey league, little league, or football for the tots are on Sunday morning? This is because the majority of these leagues are run by Catholics who run to mass on Saturday. It is a crying shame that some parents will skip church just so their child can worship the sports god on Sunday morning. God never gave the family as a vehicle to prohibit their involvement in ministry but too many parents do not make time for God. There are so many organizational meetings, school functions, or league meetings which absorb the time of the parents but come Sunday morning if junior coughs, the whole family stays home to prevent him from becoming sick. Yet, on Monday he will be wallowing in the mud during rain playing football. The Christian family is to yield Godly seed in a wicked generation and that will entail going against the grain of unbelieving society. If you and your family have no ministry but are really busy, you must sit down and evaluate where all the time has gone. PTA, Girl Scouts, and other functions must not usurp the Christian family’s dedication to God. If a Christian family rears their children in concert with the ways of the world, then what is the difference between them and hell?
There are a plethora of ways to waste time especially while we are young. I know this, I gave many good years to the bar and the pursuit of worldly pleasure. When I look back on all the squandered money I cry. I sometimes spent $100 or more for a night of drinking. World Missionary Press is an organization that prints bible tracts in about 300 languages and their cost to produce 1 tract is 3 cents. Do the math, I drank in one night the equivalent of 3300 tracts. Of course I was predestined to be saved at 27 and up to that point probably squandered enough of the Lord’s money to buy 300,000 tracts or more because we are talking about 1970’s prices. Let us bring that mindset to today, every time I go out and buy some unneeded gadget I am wasting money which could be used to send forth the gospel and you will never reclaim what you spend. Let each of us take stock of our life and see if we are giving the best years of our life to Christ or to the corporate mind set.
(Acts 13:36 KJV) For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:
How about you? Are you serving this generation or are you allowing this generation to serve you? (Amos 6:1 KJV) Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came!  (2/11/01)