Perhaps this will be considered a boring post. But for a seminary class last semester, I had to do a project on the 4 wisdom books of the Old Testament – Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs. For this assignment, you had to pick a certain topic and find all the verses in the wisdom books on that topic – and then group the info together in a simple, summarized form.
I chose the topic of “time” partly for personal reasons. I have the tendency to procrastinate and squander time, and I hoped this project might challenge me to make better use of my time. Below I share part of my project…Perhaps it will help and challenge you as well. (Remember that the wisdom books focus more on the here and now – our life “under the sun” or here on earth. The Bible clearly teaches an eternal afterlife, but that is not the focus of the wisdom books.)
Why is time important and why should we value it?
- Life is brief, and our days on earth are limited. Job 14:1-5
- Unlike a plant which cyclically reproduces, man lives only once. Job 14:7-12
- All people face the fate of death. Eccl 3:2a; 7:2; 9:2-6
- We should not boast about tomorrow, because it is uncertain. Prov 27:1
- Length of life can be unpredictable, and not necessarily based on whether one is righteous or wicked. Time is in God’s hands. Eccl 8:12-14; 9:1-12
- Due to the brevity and uncertainty of life, value life as God’s gift and enjoy the time you have, within the bounds of godliness. Eccl 2:24-26; 3:12-15,22; 5:18-20; 8:15; 9:7-10; 11:9-10; 12:13
Do you know what “time” it is?
- Every activity or event in life has its proper “time” (point in time) and “season” (duration). Eccl 3:1; Song of Songs 2:7; 3:5; 8:4 (time for love)
- The times/seasons of life are often in contrast to each other. Examples: birth/death, plant/harvest, kill/heal, tear down/build up, weep/laugh, cast away/gather, gain/lose, love/hate, war/peace. Eccl 3:1-8; 7:13-14; Job 1:21
- These times/seasons of life are appointed by God, and God accomplishes His purposes in His sovereign time. Eccl 3:10-11; 7:13-14
- A wise man discerns the time, and submits to God’s plan for the time (by behaving appropriately for the time he is in). Eccl 7:13; 8:5b
- Yet…life can be an enigma and we may not always understand God’s plan or purpose. Eccl 3:11; 7:14, 23-24; 8:17
What are the perils of misusing time?
- Wasting time through laziness or frivolity can lead to poverty. Prov 6:10-11; 19:15; 28:19
- If you wait for the “perfect time”, you will never get anywhere. Eccl 11:4
- Opportunities may be lost if you don’t do things at the proper time. Prov 6:6-8; 10:5; 19:15a; 27:1
- A lazy disposition can make you oblivious to the precious time you are losing, as if cast into a deep sleep. Prov 19:15a
- Squandered time can not be regained. (Grasp opportunities to the fullest because when death comes all opportunities cease.) Eccl 9:10
- As you utilize your time, remember that God will judge all your actions in time. Eccl 3:17; 11:9; 12:14
What is the relationship between wisdom and time?
- Heeding wisdom can keep you safe, and keep you from premature death. Prov 1:32-33; 4:20-22; 13:14; 14:27
- Heeding wisdom can give you peace of spirit, and lengthen your life. Prov 3:2,16-17; 4:10; 9:11; 10:27
- Remember that the Lord is the true source of wisdom, as well as the giver and preserver of life. Prov 1:7a; 9:10-11; 10:27a; Job 28:28
- Despite the value of a life of wisdom, it is still subject to the uncertainties of life and there is no guarantee of success. Eccl 8:12-14; 9:11-12
How should we then live? (Summary)
- Don’t lose your sense of the brevity of life, but don’t be in such a hurry that you fail to enjoy the life God has granted you.
- Accept that the times and seasons of life are appointed by God for a purpose, even when life doesn’t make sense from your finite perspective.
- Don’t squander time and seize opportunities, while living in the light of God’s wisdom.