In Ecclesiastes 3, Solomon goes on a riff about time. He recognizes first that time is a gift from God. With that comes a second truth – that time is a trust.
Verse 15 says, “Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before, and God will call the past to account.” When something is given to you “in trust”, the assumption is that you will take care of it, and use it well, and then one day you give it back to the owner. With that, there’s the understanding that you will have to give an explanation for how you used what was given to you. Well time is just that sort of thing.
We are each given by God a certain amount of time on this earth. And we’re each given by God certain raw materials to work with as we use time – our bodies, our minds, our talents.
Please don’t misconstrue this point. It’s not that God arbitrarily says to himself, “Okay, you I’ll give 73 years to live, and you I’ll give 51, and you I’m taking you out at 17. And you I’m making blind. You I’m making deaf. You’re going to have a weak heart. You get psoriasis, you cystic fibrosis.” The moment I was born, God knew that I would have psoriasis, but he didn’t give it to me. He allows the transmission of disease and ultimately death to occur because it’s part of the curse of sin which we must bear on this side of heaven.
This curse is transmitted from one generation to another in accordance with laws of genetics and biology and chemistry which God established and which God superintends, but don’t think for a moment that God gets pleasure out of this or singles you out for some sort of cosmic torture, like Michael on The Good Place.
What God gets pleasure from is watching you and me take this life, this time, this body, this mind that each of us is given – no matter the limitations and weaknesses we possess – and using them to expand his goodness and love on the earth in some way for whatever amount of time we are given.
At the end of years of backsliding where he chased down every pleasure he could find outside of God, Solomon concluded that life without the love of God and the love of neighbor is worthless in the end. The last two verses of Ecclesiastes read: “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”
He’s like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, who needs to learn how to love others first, and only then does the spell of his time-trap’s meaninglessness gets broken. He needs to learn that time is a trust given to him, and he is not to waste it all upon himself.
A lot of people get stuck in life. Get stuck in a place where one day bleeds into another, and there’s no more excitement to it, and they wonder what it’s all about. They go to bed sighing, they wake up sighing. If that’s you, maybe you’ve forgotten that life is a trust given to you by God. Maybe you’ve been spending your time and energy as though it’s all about you, when that never was the point at all.
Bear Clifton is a pastor, writer and screenwriter. His blogs and devotionals can be enjoyed at his ministry website: trainyourselfministry.com and his writing website: blclifton.com. Bear is the author of “Train Yourself To Be Godly: A 40 Day Journey Toward Sexual Wholeness”, “Ben-Hur: The Odyssey”, and “A Sparrow Could Fall”, all available through Amazon.
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