Time is our most precious commodity. We all have the same 1440 minutes each day. Not a single one of them is guaranteed, and there’s nothing we can do to create more. So, the only question that remains is: What are you going to do with the time you have? The Bible gives us some great guidance on how to best invest our time for maximum impact.
Jesus and Time
Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the one who sent me” (John 7:33).
Jesus understood that his time on earth was limited. He had told his disciples that he was going to Jerusalem to die – this was his destiny – and it the cross was coming at him quicker than anyone could imagine.
“As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:4-5).
Jesus knew that he had a big job to accomplish and that his time was short. Jesus spent his last few months on earth pouring into a small group of followers. He knew that they would carry his message to the ends of the earth. They were the key to his lasting impact. Time with them was precious.
What are you going to do with the time God has given you?
Time and the Philosopher of Ecclesiastes
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance …” (Eccles. 3:1-4).
The writer of Ecclesiastes spent a lifetime pondering the question of time. He was a philosopher and a poet. Ecclesiastes, chapter 3 is both – philosophy and poetry. The philosophical thesis statement is found in the first line – “There is a time for everything under the sun” (Eccles. 3:1).
He then spends the next seven verses driving home the point using a series of opposites as a contrast – born/die, plant/uproot, kill/heal, tear down/build up, weep/laugh, mourn/dance, and so forth. You can’t get too focused on the particulars. Feel the power of his BIG point. Time has a rhythm to it. All of life is filled with these moments.
Time, as we know it, is a sacred gift from God.
He goes on to say that God makes everything beautiful in its time and that HE has set eternity in the human heart (v.11). No one can fathom what God has done from the beginning of time, nor what he will do to the end of time (v.11).
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (Eccles. 3:11).
Four High Impact Ways to Invest Your Time
Our mission on earth, then, is to use this precious gift we call “time” for good. The philosopher of Ecclesiastes discovered four ways to invest our time for maximum impact.
1. Invest more time in people than in things.
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Eccles. 4:12).
The philosopher of Ecclesiastes saw how people fight with each other and kill each other to advance their own agendas. He saw that all wars and battles were meaningless. None of it really amounted to anything in the end.
The only things that last are the relationships we build with others. The only way to survive is together.
Jesus told us that most of the things we chase in life are going to rust away with time (Matt. 5:6:19-20). He told us to chase after the things that were important to God (Matt. 6:33).
And this is what God said is most important – Love God and love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:30). In other words, invest your time in people, more than things.
2. Spend more time listening than talking.
Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few” (Eccles. 5:2).
You don’t know quite as much as you think you do. Things are often not as you see them. God has a 10,000-foot view of life. Yours is myopic, at best. It would do you good to close your mouth and open your ears. It would do the world good if everyone would practice listening with their ears, eyes, and hearts.
There are three basic types of listening:
- Informational Listening (Listening to Learn)
- Critical Listening (Listening to Evaluate and Analyse)
- Therapeutic or Empathetic Listening (Listening to Understand Feeling and Emotion)
We are champions at the first two – not so much the third.
Try spending your time listening to other people’s stories. Repeat this phrase often: “Tell me more about yourself.” People will respond. And you will begin to understand others.
3. Seek wisdom more than riches.
The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools” (Eccles. 9:17).
My paternal grandfather was a man of few words. He was highly respected among his family and friends. He immigrated to this country in 1929 to escape the deprivation precipitated by the Mexican Revolution. He never had much in this life. But, his courage and strength of character have been passed from generation to generation. He instilled in all his children a strong work ethic and Godly set of priorities.
How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!” (Prov. 16:16).
An old survey of 100 people over the age of 95 asked the question: What would you do differently if you had your life to live over again? The number one answer – I would do more things in this life that would live on after I was gone.
What are you doing today to be sure that your life’s work lives on after you are dead? Try seeking wisdom, more than riches.
4. The greatest use of time: Love God and stay close to his Word.
‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Everything is meaningless!'” (Prov. 12:8).
After a lifetime of chasing the meaning of life, the Philosopher of Ecclesiastes decided that it was all meaningless.
Why does one person live long and another person die young? Why was that person born into wealth and this one into poverty? There is no rhyme or reason – life is random and meaningless. God is the only framework that brings any meaning to life.
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind” (Eccles. 12:13).
All of our striving for things is meaningless. All of our strivings have a limited impact, except for our striving for God.
Teach me your way, LORD; lead me in a straight path …” (Psalm 27:11).
Every minute of your day is a precious gift from God. Listen to him and he will direct your every step on the path!