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The Meaning of Time


God has mercifully brought us into another year. May we enter 2016 with expectant faith and hope, confident that God’s grace and mercy will follow us. As the clock struck midnight, I could not help but to reflect on the meaning of time. I share those thoughts with you in what follows. Why does God give us time in the first place? I came up with three reasons:

God gives us time to create in us a sense of urgency. Have you ever met someone who had no sense of time? They are the ones chronically (ironically, this word is traced etymologically to the Greek word chronos, meaning “time”) late. They are the ones who live without a sense of purpose. They drag their feet across the landscape of life. But time is meant to create in us a sense of urgency. A simple experiment will confirm this. Go and perform some mundane task, say, mowing your lawn. No big deal. However, perform that same task while in view of a large stopwatch counting down the minutes. Instantly your banal work takes on a newfound necessity. You just may mow faster and trim quicker. You will be determined to get the job done before time is lost.

And maybe God gives us time because He wants to impress upon us the urgency of repentance.

God gives us time to remind us of our ephemerality. Time brings inevitable decline. The world is passing away. Paul could say that our “outward man is perishing.” Our bodies get older and weaker and our minds more feeble with time. Time reminds us of our finitude. In light of this fact, we yearn for things that are imperishable, unchanging, and eternal. That is to say, we yearn for God.

And maybe God gives us time to remind us of our human frailty so that we would recognize our need for Him.

Finally, God gives us time to teach us a lesson in wisdom. Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Why do we number our days? What is the use of clocks and calendars? The wise use of time involves writing down and recording our blessings. The hymn has it this way, “Count your blessings, name them one by one.” But the wise use of time also involves living on purpose. This means living as if eternity really mattered.

Paul sums it up for us in Romans 13:11 when he said, “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.”

Thank you God for your time.

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