Concerned about money, your job or career, your home? Here's an important perspective about your long-term security.
"I have changed my value system," said the refugee, telling me her sad story of shattered hopes. "I had been far too materialistic. I had concentrated on getting physical things. Now that they have all been swept away, I want to cling to more enduring values." Helen is an intelligent, once-wealthy woman in her early 20s who was forced to flee, penniless, with her family from a Third World country that fell to communism. She told me her story of broken dreams. "What has the experience taught you?" I asked. "I was overly concerned with physical things. I need to invest my time more wisely now," she replied. Helen had learned the hard way to invest her time in enduring values. Time is one of our treasures — perhaps the greatest one. And the Kingdom of God is an investment that requires the time of true Christians. Each day we receive another precious 24 hours. From evening to evening, another 86,400 seconds are credited to our account. And we have to spend every one of them! A day misused is gone forever. Whether you are an oil billionaire riding along proudly in your limousine or a dirt farmer saving for a secondhand tractor, you have an equal amount of the precious treasure of time each day. Are you investing that treasure wisely? How we use our time shows where our hearts are. Other matters that are important to us will receive proper attention only if we first learn how to use our time wisely.
The time wasters
Cleverly, Satan has devised a world in which, if we are not careful, we can become so engrossed with inconsequential matters that we have no time for matters of true importance. This is true even in a physical way. For instance, tests have shown that even some executives of the most successful companies waste much of their time on trivia. They are usually unaware of the waste. When these business executives are asked to record, minute by minute, where their time goes, they are usually shocked to discover how many hours are bled away by trifles. Chances are, if you take a hard look at how you use the hours of your life, you, too, will have to admit that too much of your time is oozing wastefully away. Of course, I am not referring to time spent well, in balance. We all need to eat, sleep, work, play and rest. What I'm talking about is wasted time. For example, how much of your day do you spend watching insipid television programs or reading meaningless magazines? Do you waste time worrying? Or being sick because you don't eat right? If you look hard, you will probably find many hours slipping by unproductively. It is a problem we all struggle with. Whenever I check up on myself, I find that much of my time needs to be reorganized.
First things first
Satan knows that true Christians believe in prayer and Bible study. He knows that it would be almost impossible to shake our belief in the value of those essential areas. Therefore, Satan takes an indirect approach. He tries to keep us so busy with other matters that we become deluded into thinking that we have no time for the spiritually essential areas. He does this by offering many attractive and appealing — but unprofitable and harmful! — alternatives. In addition, the environment around us offers many perfectly wholesome and right pursuits that nevertheless can distract us if we overemphasize them or put them before our spiritual obligations. The result is the same as if we had deliberately decided not to pray or study. We must guard against wasting time in these areas by firmly committing ourselves to doing the important things first.
Get the focus
Look at it this way: A photographer focuses his camera on the subject of his picture until that subject becomes clear. If the subject is clear, the photographer doesn't worry if the background blurs a little. We need to do the same with our time. We need to focus on our priorities. The rest of the items requiring or inviting our attention will then appear in their proper perspective. You can redeem your time, and the Bible commands you to do so! The apostle Paul said that we should be "redeeming the time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:16). For example, if you find yourself in need of more time, ask yourself if you really need to read all the details of all the crimes reported in the newspaper. If you concentrated on the major news issues and trends, especially those related to Bible prophecy (the situation in the Middle East and the rise of Europe, for example), and skimmed the rest of the paper, you could still be getting the most important news — and you would be spending your reading time more profitably (Luke 21:36). Once spent, time can never be replaced. We can only live this day today. The best time investment we can make is putting the right amount of time into preparing for the Kingdom of God. God's Kingdom is the only government that will not eventually collapse. That is why we are commanded to redeem the time and use it wisely. Sad to say, some have preferred to invest their time primarily in the things of this world. How about you? How do you compare with the rich man in Mark 10:17-22, who turned down the chance to become one of Christ's disciples because he couldn't bear to part with his goods? He's dead now, his goods long ago divided among heirs, and he has no promise of anything more. Some men and women set themselves a physical goal — a public office or a fat bank account, for example — drive themselves relentlessly toward that goal, deprive themselves of rest and relaxation — then die of heart attacks from overwork and stress just as they attain "success." What a tragedy of wasted life! By contrast, let us read what Jesus instructed His disciples: "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21). If people without God's Spirit are willing to expend so much for a physical goal, how much more should we be willing to sacrifice our time readying ourselves for the office and the understanding of a God?
In this world, we spend so much time acquiring and then maintaining physical things that it sometimes seems that they are controlling us, instead of us controlling them. But stop! Get off the merry-go-round and think just a minute. Longtime readers of The Good News know that the Bible clearly shows what is ahead for humanity — more frightful upsets and violence, worldwide, and a time of greater trouble than the world has ever seen (Matthew 24:21). Fortunately, although our property may be destroyed, we as true Christians will be able to claim God's protection from such catastrophic events as Psalm 91, verses 3 to 7, describes, and God also promises to supply our needs (Psalms 37:25). Our enemies can rob us of our televisions and radios. They can steal our fancy carpets and curtains. They can confiscate our homes and deny us jobs. But there is no need to be disheartened if our real treasure is not invested in those trinkets. Unless we let them, our enemies cannot take away our time invested in the Kingdom of Heaven. If we continue to give God our best time now and in the short time remaining in this age, God will give us more time than we can imagine — eternity. Where could you find a better deal?