It seems like it was only recently that the year was brand new, and now it is all but vanished away, ready to give way to another year. Things seem to change so rapidly, and time never slows down. Some observations for the occasion which is upon us seems called for.
Observation Number One: Time has a way of getting away from us.
The older you get, the truer it seems that time just slips away. A morning begins and before you know it, you are into a new week, or a new month, and you wonder where the time all went to. It is a common refrain that there does not seem to be enough time in the day, yet even in an entire year, how often do we seem to run out of time before we have done all that we had planned to do when the year began? Our life is a vapor, brief and soon vanished away, often before we are properly prepared (cf. James 4:14).
Rather than complain about it though, wisdom counsels us to accept the situation for what it is. In the Bible, the Spirit reminds us, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15-17; ESV)”
God gives each of us the same number of hours in each day, and the same number of days in each year. What we do with those days is up to us. We can fritter them away chasing after matters inconsequential, or we can use them to the best of our ability, doing those things that are most important.
Which brings us to…
Observation Number Two: Most of us prioritize pretty poorly.
During His ministry on earth, Jesus tried to hammer into His head the importance of putting first things first and not stressing over the things that were ultimately worthless. “Don’t lay up your treasures on earth,” Jesus said, reminding us of the fleeting nature of earthly treasure, “but lay up your treasures in heaven where neither moths nor rust destroy, and where thieves cannot break in and steal (Matthew 6:19-20)”
Elsewhere Jesus tells a story of a man who thought he had it all, only to find out he had wasted his life chasing after worthless money.
“The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God. (Luke 12:16-21; ESV)”
Time slipped away from him, and poor spiritual planning meant that he died before he was truly ready to face God in the judgment. A life not rich towards God is a life where prioritization has been poorly managed.
But on a slightly different note…
Observation Number Three: Jesus remains ever the same.
Time slips away so quickly, and the world presents the illusion of being ever in flux (illusion because, as Solomon wisely observed, there is nothing new under the sun), and men adrift in the sea of time frequently feel unanchored and unmoored. In this maelstrom of uncertainty, one thing remains ever unchanging. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). His word remains ever the same, and ever profitable being always relevant and always timely (cf. 2 Timothy 3:15-17). His salvation is ever available (cf. Acts 2:39). Moreover, His standards do not change from day to day or year to year, but are a reliable constant by which we can measure ourselves, our priorities, and our standing before God, knowing assuredly that those very words will be the standard of judgment on the last day, when time, for each of us, has run out.
The church of Christ invites you to come worship and study with us, as we each seek to make the very best use of our time in His service, at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, Ohio. If you have any questions or comments, we invite you to share them with us at chapelhillchurchofchrist.org.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.