My son still hasn’t grasped the concept of “rounding up.” When he asks what time it is, I might say, “1:15,” to which he replies, then “why does the clock say 1:13?” Of course, my wise reply is always, “If you can see the clock, why did you ask me what time it is?”
Time is a strange thing. By its very definition, time is exact. Yet, have you ever noticed that everyone’s watch displays a slightly different time? Or why is it that on some days time seems to pass quickly while on other days it tends to creep by slowly?
Sometimes the profundity of time begins to strike the heart in the midst of crisis. For instance, when a friend or loved one dies at a young age it may cause one to consider how much time he or she has left. Or when a parent notices how a child has “grown up overnight” they sense an urgency to cherish time spent together. Such moments cause us to move beyond the child-like notion that “I’ve got all the time in the world to accomplish my goals and dreams” to the question, “Do I still have enough time to make an impact?”
I imagine Moses was experiencing one of those moments when He wrote, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). I think we would all do well to pray similarly.
The Bible gives us a balanced perspective on time. On the one hand, we are called to make “the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16). On the other hand, we must keep in mind that “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (I Peter 3:8-10).
In other words, as believers, we must live in both this life measured by time and the next life measured by eternity. But how?
Consider Peter’s words in I Peter 3:8-10:
“But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.”
Here, Peter describes several implications for living in the balance of the temporal and eternal:
1) The limitation of time produces hope. Consider for a moment the fact that hope is based upon a future reality. Without time, however, there would be no such thing as a future. Peter looks to the future and describes the end of time in verse 10. There is great hope for the believer when we look forward to the coming of the Lord and, consequently, the destruction of plaguing sin.
2) The limitation of time produces urgency. In the next chapter of his letter, Peter warns believers: “The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit…” (I Peter 4:7).
For those who have not yet trusted the Lord, a look toward the Lord’s future return should create an urgency to trust Him by Faith. “Today is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).
3) The vastness of eternity instills trust. Christ’s pending return and the ensuing judgment in no way means that Jesus is hard-hearted toward sinners. In fact, the opposite is true. Peter explains that, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”
Balancing the fact that God is patient while at the same time remembering that the opportunity for repentance is limited should bear several results. First, it should be a wonderful message to the unbeliever hearing the gospel. Second, it should be encouraging to Christians praying for and sharing the gospel with their unbelieving friends. Finally, it should build our trust in God’s goodness, wisdom, love, and sovereignty over all things.
4) The vastness of eternity changes our perspective. When believers realize that this temporal life on earth is merely a vapor compared to eternity (James 4:14), we should be encouraged all the more to endure –even in the midst of suffering. “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised” (Hebrews 10:36).
The reality of broken dreams, shattered lives, inconvenient truths, and disappointing relationships are worth enduring faithfully for the sake of eternity with Christ. “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison (2 Corinthians 4:17). In the words of A.W. Tozer, “True religion confronts earth with heaven and brings eternity to bear upon time.”
How well are you coping with time and eternity?
- Have you repented of your sin and placed faith in Christ alone? You are not guaranteed tomorrow.
- Are you calling upon the Lord on behalf of other who don’t know Him? God is “not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”
- Do you view today’s struggles as permanent problems or as temporary afflictions? For the believer, there is nothing so terrible on earth that can outweigh one moment of glory.
- Is your heart’s treasure in time or eternity? Is it evident from your life?
Be sure that eternity is coming. Do you know what time it is?