We are finite beings. Because of this, we operate within the limits of space and time. Most of us wake up by an alarm clock at a certain time in the morning. We have to be at work by a certain time. We have to be at work for a certain length of time. We have to eat at a certain time. We go to sleep at a certain time. We all have 24 hours or 1,440 minutes or 86,400 seconds in our day. We have to operate each day under those time constraints. So if we are so limited in our resource of time, then it makes sense that we need to manage that time well. We need to do what is most important in the time that we have. And when we look at the length of our life biblically, we see that our life is not very long in the scope of eternity. Therefore, because our time on this earth is short and uncertain, we must make the best use of our time while we are here.
I. Your Time on Earth is Short (Psalm 39:4-5)
Let’s look at Psalm 34:4-5:
“O Lord, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah “
Notice that David is asking God to make him aware of the brevity of life. When you’re young, 70 or 80 or 90 seems so far off. But the older you get, the more you realize how quickly life goes by, and David asks God to make him aware of that. He says, “Let me know how fleeting I am!” In other words, let me know how temporary this life is. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon talks about how he spent all of his time throwing parties, being with women, drinking, eating, gaining wealth, gaining knowledge, and doing whatever his heart desired. But do you know what he said about all of it? It’s worthless. It’s like chasing the wind as if you could catch it. He wasted his time on things that were temporary. That is why Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:18, “…we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient (or temporary), but the things that are unseen are eternal.” So we realize with David that this life and all that goes with it are temporary. Why is that?
As David continues, we see that it is because our days are few or merely a breath. James 4:14 goes along the same lines saying, “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” To emphasize that shortness of life, David compares it to the smallest measuring unit of ancient times (i.e., the handbreadth). Then he compares it to God’s infinite existence. David says that in the realm of eternity, which is where God dwells, our lives are as nothing. The few short years that we live on this earth are nothing compared to eternity. They are merely a breath. As David says in Psalm 144:4, “Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.” We do not have long on this earth. Our lives are only a breath in the scope of eternity. You may be in great health and have had a doctor tell you that you will live to be a certain age or you may be in bad health and have had a doctor tell you that you will not live to be a certain age. It doesn’t matter. We are not guaranteed to make it another day.
Our time is short, and because of that, we need to use the time that we do have wisely.
II. Use the Time You Have Wisely (Ephesians 5:15-16)
Let’s look at Ephesians 5:15-16:
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. “
Now we have to have a clear understanding of the passage in Psalm 39 before we move on, because it is the understanding that our time on earth is short that is the foundation of this passage in Ephesians. Since our time is short, we must make the best use of the time we have. So what does Paul mean when he says, “…making the best use of the time”? It literally means making the most of every opportunity. We are all presented with different opportunities each and every day. We have the opportunity to witness for Christ. We have the opportunity to serve the Lord. We have the opportunity to be a means of blessing to others with whom we come in contact. We have opportunities each and every day, and we either make the most of them or we allow them to pass. There is a Chinese proverb that says, “Opportunity has a forelock so you can seize it when you meet it. Once it is past, you cannot seize it again.” God has given us this limited window of time that we call life to take hold of every opportunity that He gives us. So as believers, we can only achieve our potential as His servants when we use the time He has given to us to its maximum potential. So as Romans 13:11 says, “…now is the time…” One of the most spiritually foolish things that we can do as Christians is to waste time and opportunities, literally throwing away our lives in half-hearted service to the Lord. We must make the most of every opportunity while we still have a chance.