I wanted to write this month on time and thought about finding some popular songs that refer to time. There were so many, I decided not to sort through them to find a few that seemed most appropriate. We are so obsessed with time, so I’ll bet a song will quickly come to your mind if it hasn’t already. After I gave up on songs, I started looking at famous quotes regarding time. There are a lot of those, too. Here is one from Thomas Jefferson:
“Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time, who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done, if we are always doing.”
Boy, Thomas Jefferson sure wanted us to be busy! He also said:
“Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.”
In reviewing famous quotes on the subject of time, I also found this one from Mother Teresa’s book A Simple Path (Random House Publishing Group, 1995)
“In the West we have a tendency to be profit-oriented, where everything is measured according to the results and we get caught up in being more and more active to generate results. In the East — especially in India — I find that people are more content to just be, to just sit around under a banyan tree for half a day chatting to each other. We Westerners would probably call that wasting time. But there is value to it. Being with someone, listening without a clock and without anticipation of results, teaches us about love. The success of love is in the loving — it is not in the result of loving.”
What different perspectives on the use of time! The author of Ecclesiastes tells us “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” (3:1, NRSV) This verse is followed by fourteen pairs of differing uses of time. What are we to make of our time? Which of the differing uses of our time is right for this time, this place, this situation?
The King James Version of the Bible uses the word “time” on 765 occasions. Job 27:10 asks the question “Will they take delight in the Almighty? Will they call upon God at all times?” Here are a few of many verses of scripture that tell us about our good and godly use of time (emphases mine):
I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. (Psalm 34:1)
Trust in [God] at all times (Psalm 62:8a)
Happy are those who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times. (Psalm 106:3)
My soul is consumed with longing for your ordinances at all times. (Psalm 119:20)
A friend loves at all times, and kinsfolk are born to share adversity. (Proverbs 17:17)
Be alert at all times, (Luke 21:36a)
It is good to be made much of for a good purpose at all times, (Galatians 4:18a)
Be filled with the Spirit, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:18b,20)
Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:18)
To me, these scriptures seem to agree with Thomas Jefferson on the matter of always being conscious of our use of time while seeming to also agree with Mother Teresa on loving and being present with God and to one another with our time. Certainly both of these renowned figures were very familiar with the Holy Bible and the teachings of Christianity. I have a high degree of confidence that both of them did what they did and were where they were, at least in part if not wholly, because of their unique understanding of God’s calling on their very different lives.
In the coming weeks, spend some time talking about and thinking about our use of the years, days, and hours that God has laid before us. I ask you to consider how you make use of your time in good and Godly ways. What are the actions that you are called to perform and where are you called to serve to best become the authentic, unique child of God that you are called to be?
You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God. Through the testing of this ministry you glorify God by your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ and by the generosity of your sharing with them and with all others, while they long for you and pray for you because of the surpassing grace of God that he has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Co 9:11–15)
The Rev. Walter Bishop is pastor at Hopewell Moravian Church.(All scripture quotes are from the New Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted.)