CHRISTIAN NEWS MAGAZINE FOR KERALA MALAYALEE CHRISTIANS FROM INDIA AROUND THE WORLD
DECEMBER 2008 DEVOTIONAL MESSAGE
VOL:07 ISSUE:12

THE VALUE OF TIME
By MATHEWS MAR BARNABAS
[Diocesian Metropolitan of American Diocese - Malankara Orthodox Church]




H.G. MATHEWS
MAR
BARNABAS

Success in life depends on how we make use of time. Hence the knowledge of the value of time is very important. Whatever abilities one may have and whatever resources one may have, if he/she does not know how to use them and does not get an opportunity to use them, they all will be fruitless. For example, if an efficient doctor is inactive, not making use of his abilities, nobody is benefited by him. Hence along with increasing our abilities and resources, we must know how to use them making the best use of time.

  1. Time passes away. But the works of time continue to abide.
    Time is not a material thing, which can be stored and used whenever the need comes. But whatever we acquire and whatever abilities we develop can be used in future. See how Joseph of Egypt collected wheat in the years of plenty and distributed it in the years of famine. The knowledge and the skill acquired by children will be useful in the future. "To catch the time by forelock" is a phrase showing how to make use of time. Time is like a series of men running in a line one after the other, with baldheads, having forelocks. In order to catch such a time, one has to watch and catch hold of the forelock. Once time has passed, we cannot catch it, as only the baldhead is available to catch. When we have caught the forelock, time will be under our control.

    Time is the opportunity to work. It is the opportunity to do good and to grow in goodness. Time can also be used to rectify the wrong we have done. When we do bad things we bring harm misusing time. When we ignore time through sloth, we are wasting and losing time.

    Time can be said to be life, which is a period of opportunities. Whatever a living being does, whether good or bad, will continue to produce its results, even after death. In the case of lifeless things, time produces transformation through chemical and other changes.

    Another specialty with time is that certain things have certain special opportunities. If we don't make use of the special opportunities, it may happen that the special opportunities may not come again. Hence we must see that we make use of these special opportunities as they come. In agriculture there are opportunities, like the time of sowing, weeding etc. Those who make use of such opportune moments will be successful. There is a saying, "Strike the iron when it is read". We have to strike the iron to make the needed things.

    This is true in spiritual life also. Prophet Isaiah says; "Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near." (Isaiah 55:6) If we postpone, it may happen that we may not feel the need again. The robber on the cross on the right side repented and prayed to the Lord when he had the spirit of repentance. He did not postpone his prayers. Hence he was saved. We also should repent and seek the Lord whenever we have the spirit of repentance.

    Whenever we get an opportunity to do something good, we shall not postpone it. If we postpone, it may happen that we may lose the desire to do good and we may not have the same circumstances. Our Lord said; "We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work." (John 9:4) Saying this, our Lord healed the man born blind. St. Paul says: "Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:15-16)

    It is foolish to postpone the opportunities to stop bad habits and to start good ones. As time goes, it may become more difficult to have a changed life. Solomon the wise says; “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it." (Proverb 22:6) St. Paul says: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. (Galatians 6:7-10) Whatever we wish to become, we must continuously do the things, which help us to grow in that line.

  2. The importance of the present tense.
    It is the works of the present tense that last. In the prophecy of Ezekiel, God says that when a sinner begins to give up his sins and tries to lead a virtuous life, all his past sins will be forgotten. But if a wicked man turns away from his sins which he has committed, and keeps all my statutes and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness which he has done, he shall live. (Ezek. 18:21-22) At the same time, if a righteous man begins to do evil, none of the deeds of righteousness will be considered. "But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity and does according to all the abominations that a wicked man does, will he live? All his righteous deeds which he has done will not be remembered for his treachery which he has committed and his sin which he has committed; for them he will die." [Ezek 18:24] Thus there is hope for all sinners and the righteous are given the warning to be watchful to the end. Therefore we must be ever bent upon leading a righteous life in the present tense till the end. Therefore we must be ever bent upon leading a righteous life in the present tense till the end. St. Paul says: "But one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind, and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:13-14)

    "Trust no future however pleasant,
    Let the dead past bury its dead.
    Act, act, in the living present,
    Heart within and God overhead."
    [H.W. Longfellow]

  3. Are we bearing fruit making the best use of time?
    Our Lord says, "you did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide" [St. John 15:16] On another occasion our Lord said, " I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me, you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers, and the branches are gathered and thrown into the fire and burned" [St. John 15:5-6] The fruit that we should bear is the fruit of the Spirit. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" [Galatians 5:22-23] Our Lord says, "By this my Father is glorified that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples" [St. John 15:8] It is said of our Lord that all His life was love and prayer. It is written of Him that he went about doing good [Act 10:38]. What an attractive life! When we fail to be bear fruit, we perish.

  4. The need to be vigilant up to the very end, making the best use time.
    We must be vigilant to te very end, as danger can come at any time. John banyan says in his book, "Pilgrim's Progress", "Even from the gates of heaven, there is a way to hell". If the pilot is careless just before landing, there is the possibility for air crash. Our Lord says, "He who endures to the end, will be saved" [St. Mark 13:13]

  5. Our duty to do our best, making the best use of time.
    Our goal is to become perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect, "You shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect" [St. Matt. 5:48] Hence we have to love God and His children to the fullness. "You shall love the Lord your God and His children to the fullness. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and wit all your mind, and with all your strength - you shall love your neighbor as your self" [St. Mark 12:30-31]. "Whatever your hands finds to do, do it with your might" [Eccl. 9:10]

    "Whatever you do
    Do with your might
    Things done by halves
    Are never done aright"

    Our Lord and the Holy Spirit will help us to grow in love. "Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and eat with him, and he with me" [Rev 3:20] St. Paul says: "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us" [Romans 5:5]

  6. The need to do the very best, making the best use of time.
    If we do our very best every day, there will be real progress.

    "If you do your best,
    Your best will better grow,
    But if you slight your daily task,
    You will let the better go".

    Some children ask, why work so hard? Is it not enough to get a pass? Such children lose the heights they can reach. There is no use of repentance when they are old.

    "The heights by great men reached and kept,
    Were not attained by sudden flight.
    But they while their companions slept,
    Were toiling upward in the night".

    Sometimes ordinary children work hard and get a first class, while brilliant children may lose it through overconfidence and carelessness.

  7. Do not waste time by comparing ourselves with others.
    No one is called to be like any one else. Everyone is expected only to do his/her best. If we find anyone on a higher level than us, don’t be jealous and feel sorry. What we have to do is to identify ourselves with that person, rejoice with him/her and encourage him/her. Everyone is a child of God and a fellow being.

    When we find someone on a lower level, don't be proud and contemptuous. We should identify ourselves with that person, sympathize with him/her and help him/her.

    St. Paul says, "Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep" [Romans 12:15]. Our duty is to do our best and thank the Lord for all His blessings.

  8. We have made the best use of time when we are filled with love and when we fill others with love.
    Love means four things.

    1. Helping others sacrificially.

    2. Forgiving whole-heartedly maintaining the old love.

    3. Respecting others counting them as better than ourselves and

    4. Obeying others and submitting to them selflessly.

As a result of good works, and becoming godly in this transitory world, we will be able to enjoy heavenly bliss in this world and in the eternal world to come. Everyone in this world has infinite potentialities for good and evil. Let us therefore, make the best use of time, for the glory of God and the benefit of His Children.

MORE ARTICLES AND SERMONS OF THE AUTHOR



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