“TAKING A SERIOUS BIBLICAL LOOK AT HOW LIFE IS JUST SO SHORT”
One common theme in the Bible is the brevity of human life on this earth.
- Genesis 47:9 “Few have the days of the years of my life been”
- 1 Chronicles 29:15 “Our days on the earth are as a shadow”
- Job 7:6 “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle”
- Job 9:25-26 “My days are swifter than a post…They are passed away as the swift ships: as the age that hasteth to the prey”
- Psalm 39:5 “Thou hast made my days as an handbreadth”
- Psalm 89:47 “Remember how short my time is”
- Psalm 103: 15-16 “As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more”.
In these passages and many others we are given the imperative directive to make the most of our time here on earth.
- Ecclesiastes 9:10 “Whatever you hands finds to do, verily do it with all your might, for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol where you are going”
- Ephesians 5:16 “Making the most of your time, because the days are evil”
Even non-Christians understand the value of “seizing the day”. Even worldly people often change the way they live or their priorities after encountering a serious illness or when they reach mid-life. In the Oregonian on August 14th, 2007 there was an article entitled, “Want to Change? Consider a ‘Life’s Too Short’ list. The story was discussing how a number of people have made a list of things they no longer want to waste time on, or are finally getting around to doing because they realize that their time on earth is very limited. Among the choices on some people’s lists were:
- No longer dutifully plodding through a boring book.
- Spending time with toxic people.
- Saying no to disagreeable people who are making unreasonable requests.
- Sending back food if it is cold or substandard
- Drinking 2% milk instead of skim.
- Using the good china and silverware frequently instead of keeping family heirlooms hidden and packed away.
- No longer waiting patiently for guests to leave late at night but instead saying, “Well, it’s getting late”.
- No longer saving every extra penny for a rainy day but buying things that I like.
- No longer working at a job that requires a MBA, but rather at a job that I enjoy.
- Sitting near a door and leaving meetings or concerts that turn out to be boring.
- No longer listening to music that does not suit one’s personal taste
- No longer hanging around people that make me feel bad about myself, including relatives.
- No longer fighting just to prove I’m right.
- No longer being concerned about what people think, but instead voicing my opinions.
One question that arises after looking at such lists, “Are these answers manifestations of using one’s time wisely or only an indication of an increasing selfishness in one’s life?” In answering this question, allow me to focus in on a few examples:
Not caring what people think
This actually can be a biblical principle if we understand it properly. From the Scriptures it is clear that we are not to be intimated by men or cater to their whims (Galatians 1:10). Neither are we to live our lives for the purpose of pleasing human opinion (Matthew 6:1-4). At the same time, we need to care about other people (Philippians 2:3-4), and carefully listen to what they are saying (James 1:19) before we either accept or reject their point of view (Acts 17:11). So instead of just rejecting all views that do not mesh with our thinking, we need to reject all views that do not agree with God’s thinking, and adjust our thinking when we are out of sync with God. Christians need to remember that truth is truth, even if an unbeliever stumbles upon it (Acts 17:28). We need to care about things that cause brethren to stumble in their thinking.
Avoiding Toxic People
“I’m going to stop spending time with toxic people” is equally a worthy goal if we properly define what makes a person toxic or dangerous. The Bible often warns us about various dangerous individuals, such as:
- False teachers (2 Corinthians 11:13-15; 2 Timothy 2:17-18).
- Factious individuals (Titus 3:10).
- Immoral influences (1 Corinthians 15:33).
Yet we must not make the mistake of labeling people “toxic” who are admonishing us to repent when we are actually in the wrong (Galatians 2:11-13), even if they are very pointed in their rebuke (Matthew 16:21-23). The Christian who is seeking to bring us back to God or challenging a sin or sinful attitude in our life is a good influence (James 5:19-20). And we need to reach out to people who are suffering the effects of sin that is toxic to one’s soul. Jesus had equally noted that one is wasting valuable time by continually attempting to reach someone who has made it clear that they are not interested in God’s truth (Matthew 7:6).
People that make me feel bad about Myself
The question on this one is, “do we need to feel bad about something we are doing or not doing?” Spend time with people who will bring out the best in you and exhort you to improve if you are becoming slack or apathetic. And avoid people who try to make you feel bad over things that do not matter (Matthew 12:1ff). Thus the Pharisees were to be avoided because they made rules that were mere human opinion, rules that they did not even keep themselves.
The Christian’s List
So what might a “Life is too short” list look for Christians?
- I will no longer waste time by dabbling in sin (1 Peter 4:3).
- I will no longer waste time by engaging in the harmful habit of worry. I will redeem the time by quickly taking all worries to God and then moving on (1 Peter 5:8).
- I will no longer waste time in being angry over things that do not matter, and I will quickly seek to resolve conflicts with brethren and those who I love (Matthew 5:23-24).
- I will not allow myself to be intimidated by a company, boss or company culture that wants me to think that working for the company is far more important than time I spend serving God or being with my family. God will come first (Matthew 6:33).
- I will stop trying to derive all my fulfillment from a career or material objects.
- I will not require perfection of others, especially seeing that I fail to reach this level myself.
- I will not waste time by habitually daydreaming about the future, fretting about the past, or wanting to be somewhere else all the time.
- I will not waste time dwelling on “what might go wrong”.
- I will not fear the future (Revelation 21:8).
- I will not dwell on the negative, rather I will look for what is going right, who is succeeding and what I can praise in others.
- I will spend my time nourishing my mate rather than trying to undermine his or her confidence.
- I will not accept, “That won’t work” as a reason not to try.
- I will never assume that a certain person would not be interested in the gospel message (Romans 1:14).
- I will not waste time envying others.
- I will not waste time feeling sorry for myself.
- I will not waste time listening to or reading about gossip.
- I will not wish away a certain part of my life, such as wishing the children would grow up.
- I will not volunteer for everything, but I will always make time for those things that really will make a difference and matter in eternity.
- I will not waste time and money trying to keep up with the Jones’.
- I won’t spend time feeling bad because I offended someone with the truth (Matthew 15:18).
- I will spend more time reading books, magazines, listening to music or watching movies that I want to watch and that help me grow personally instead of relying upon to the popular culture to tell me what I should be doing with my leisure time.
- I will be more zealous in wanting to offer compliments and encouragement rather than waiting to receive it.
· I will be more generous.