“Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may
grow in wisdom” (Psalm 90:12 NLT).
I have been thinking so much lately about the swiftness of passing time. However we look at it, we don’t have much time left to finish preparing for the return of Elijah and Jesus Christ, our coming King and Judge. We so easily go from day to day doing the chores of daily life, forgetting that the most important thing every day is to number our days and to apply our hearts to wisdom.
What does that mean? Let’s look closer at Psalm 90:12 so we can more clearly understand its meaning. “So teach us to number our days,” that is, be aware of how few they really are. We have several illustrations in the Bible of life’s swift passing:
- “The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” (Ps. 90:10).
- “You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (Jas. 4:14).
- “Lord, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days that I may know how frail I am. Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my age is as nothing before You; certainly every man at his best state is but vapor” (Psa. 39:4-5).
- “For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits” (Jas. 1:11).
- “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle” (Job 7:6).
- “Our days on earth are as a shadow” (1 Chron. 29:15).
- “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away” (1 Pet. 1:24).
At best our years fly by and are very soon gone.
From these descriptions we should be very aware of the urgency to make the very most of the days we have.
Almost all of us, by some undefined instinct, deny the reality of death by immersing ourselves in the present moment, as if not thinking about it would keep death away from us. We absorb ourselves with work, our home, our children, a hobby, a book, or almost any activity. Some people make friends, or party, or travel to avoid facing their inner poverty of soul or looking too far into the future. But as Christians, our time is not ours to fritter away with distractions. God is giving us time to build the character that He will approve. If we squander it, we are in reality squandering eternity!
Opportunities do not last forever. The opportunity for the people of Noah’s day to enter the ark and find safety when the angel shut the door of the ark was lost forever.
Remember the parable Jesus told about the man who hid his talent in a napkin? He committed no heinous crime. He was not openly defiant, or rebellious, or dishonest. He did not mean any ill. His sin was that he did nothing with his opportunity. When the Lord of that servant returned, all that man could show was his unused talent, and how carefully he had kept it. By doing nothing with his opportunity, he sinned. And James tell us that one “who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins” (Jas. 4:17 NIV). Neglect is serious.
God calls us to make the right use of our time today. “Now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2). He does not promise us tomorrow. Now is the only sure moment.
Unused muscles atrophy. Undisturbed water evaporates. Unwound clocks stop. Unentered doors close.
What are we to do with the opportunity God has given us? We are to apply our hearts unto wisdom! How do we do this? We can
- Read or listen to things that are character building.
- Make our daily work an offering to the Lord, as well as to our employer (Col. 3:23).
- Keep God’s Word foremost in our minds (Deut. 6:5-6).
- Be honest and fair, even if it puts us at a temporal disadvantage (Ps. 15:2-4).
- Be peace-loving as far as possible, overlooking slights and things that might naturally offend us (Ps. 119:165).
- Keep our language clean and free from the rough vernacular and cursing that is so common all around us.
- Keep our spirit under control when things go wrong.
- Watch for opportunities to help and encourage others.
There is so much we can do to keep us going up that strait and narrow way that leads to life! (Matt. 7:13-14). And all the time we need to keep fueling the fire of faith in our hearts. Every day that passes means we have one day less. NOW is our opportunity.
Can you imagine what it would be like to mount up like the eagles, to run and not be weary, to walk and not faint (Isa. 40:31)? Or to never ever say, “I am sick” (Isa. 33:24)? To never be afraid (Isa. 32:17-18), never fear death?
If that is not enough, we have the promise that we will gain knowledge and wisdom through all eternity, that we will have riches and honor, and that the pure in heart will see God (Matt. 5:8)! Just imagine what that will be like.
The days fly, and with the passing of each one the arrival of our King is one day nearer. Oh, may we use each wonderful day with wisdom and care. Like Brother Paul, keep reaching for the prize before us that we may be among the winners! — PAF
My Life Work
To acquire a thorough knowledge of
my own heart and character;
To restrain my irregular inclinations;
To subdue every rebellious passion;
To purify the motives of my conduct;
To form myself to that temperance which
no pleasure can seduce,
To that meekness which no provocation can ruffle,
To that patience which no affliction can overwhelm,
And to that integrity which no self-interest can bribe.