We live in an age where adults are trying to stop the unstoppable—the onward march of time. With only so many hours in a day and a limited amount of years in a lifetime, preserving and elongating one’s life has become high priority through trends like extreme fitness, nutritional supplements, human growth hormones, and the cryogenics movement. Fitness and healthy living are commendable, but the mind-set that through them you will outpace death is not.
The Bible teaches, emphatically, that we cannot outrun death. Our days are numbered and we cannot presume upon tomorrow (Job. 14:5). Therefore, we should live with the length of eternity, not the length of our earthly days, on the forefront of our minds by stewarding our time like our money—saving it, investing it, and using it, with wisdom and intentionality.
Below are 4 steps you can take each day to keep your mind and heart in the right perspective regarding time.
Reflect on the brevity of life and the length of eternity
Life passes us by at a shockingly rapid pace. With each passing year, this pace seems to pick up speed. One day our kids are born; the next day they graduate high school. One day we enter the workforce; the next day we retire.
In Psalm 90, a psalm of Moses, he describes the brevity of life and prays that God might “teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts” (v. 12). The brevity of life in the light of eternity creates an even starker contrast between the two, a contrast upon which we must regularly reflect and meditate.
Realize the uncertainty of tomorrow
Prudence is a biblical virtue. Presumption is not. We should save, work, plan, and prepare for life’s contingencies well into the future. At the same time, we cannot assume we will have a future. Consider what Jesus’ brother, James, has to say about this:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring— what your life will be! For you are like a vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes. Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So it is sin to know the good and yet not do it. (James 4:13–17)
The Bible itself describes our lives as vapors that vanish quickly. We must recognize today that we are not promised tomorrow.
Remember, time is your most precious possession
Time, not money, is your most precious possession. And we often throw away our time in alarming ways: social media, television, and idle chatter. Accordingly, Don Whitney observed, “If people threw away their money as thoughtlessly as they throw away their time, we would think them insane. Yet time is infinitely more precious than money because money can’t buy time.” Yet, this is not just for our own benefit; it is for that of Christ and his kingdom. Our allotment of time is a special gift from him, for us to use in light of our divine stewardship.
Learn to say “no”
For me, saying the word “no” did not come naturally. I was equipped to say “no” over issues of doctrine, conviction, or morality, but I was much less capable of saying “no” over more subjective, less consequential issues—especially when asked to do something by someone I knew and loved, like family, friends, or fellow church members.
The result usually was not a disaster, but it often brought about some other downside—a dilution of my time and resources. The old adage holds true, when you say “yes” to something, you are saying “no” to something else. As such, you will not rightly steward your time until you learn to pronounce the word no.
It matters how we use our time because ultimately, our time is a gospel issue. How will you use your time for the gospel?
Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from Dr. Jason Allen’s book Being a Christian. You can purchase or find more information on the book at LifeWay Christian Resources. The excerpt was originally published at JasonKAllen.com.