“What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” James 4:14 ESV
The short hand in the upper right hand corner would be meaningless to all who might wander across the page, but it stands as a reminder to me, almost a caution, that I must be guarded, prudent and wise with my time; a constant battle it seems. At present, there are four simple notes dating back to 2004 that remind me of when I last read the pages that follow. And, as the sermon is aptly titled, it reminds me of “The Preciousness of Time, and the Importance of Redeeming It.” The sermon, by Jonathan Edwards, is dated December, 1734, but its message is timeless; permit me to share some excerpts.
“Time is precious…because a happy or miserable eternity depends on the good or ill improvement of it.” Here, Edwards makes the point that we have no assurance of tomorrow and that securing reconciliation with our maker—God, the Creator of heaven and earth—is something that must be done in the present. He continues, “…when the time of life is gone, it is impossible that we should ever obtain another such time. All opportunity of obtaining eternal welfare is utterly and everlastingly gone.”
Reflecting on time past, Edwards asks, “Have you let the precious golden sands of your glass run?” Certainly, we cannot live in the past nor can we relive the past. But, we can reflect on our lives with a penetrating eye to gain wisdom as to how we should act in the present.
In reference to mindlessly wasting time Edwards quips, “If men were as lavish of their money as they are of their time…we should think them beside themselves, and not in possession of their right minds.” It has been said that “time waits for no man” and I believe that’s true. One of the most repeated dadisms heard around my house is, “You’re burning daylight.” My point being there is no time like the present to tend to important matters of the day. Also, in the big scheme of things, I’m convinced that time can be employed most profitably during the day—not during the night.
Near the end of the sermon Edwards poses this question that cuts to the heart of the matter: “Would you not behave otherwise than you do, if you considered with yourselves every morning, that you must give an account to God, how you shall have spent that day?” Today, would you burn endless hours in front of the television or computer screen if you had to give an account to God this evening? Would you toss and turn in your bed during the morning if you had to give an account in the evening? If God were to pass judgment on how you spent your day, would you be as captivated by the affairs of others as you are?
The sermon concludes with three pieces of advice: (1) “Improve the present time without any delay.” (2) Take special care not to waste special seasons of time (like your youth) and (3) don’t waste time in useless diversions or amusements. Instead, make use of each day as if you would give an accounting to God each evening.