I just celebrated my sixty-first birthday. Key moments in our lives often lead us to stop and think. Birthdays can be one of those times.
Statistics tell me that a healthy man will live on average to be 76.71 years old. Because I live in Texas, I can only expect to live until I am 75.63 years old. But if I lived in Connecticut, I could live until I am 78.93 years old. Maybe I should move.
I also have kidney disease and have had a kidney transplant. Kidney disease is the number nine cause of death among males in the United States. So chances are good I won’t make it to the average age no matter what state I live in.
What is the point of all this? If my life were a football game, I am in the fourth quarter. Football games are often decided by what happens in that final quarter.
Does a team become tired, overconfident, too cautious, and give up a lead? In last year’s Super Bowl, the Atlanta Falcons entered the fourth quarter leading the New England Patriots, 28-9. New England won the game, 34-28. (Sorry for reminding you, Falcon fans.)
We will all die one day, unless Jesus returns first. And it will happen sooner than we expect.
God tells us in Ecclesiastes 3:1-2: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: 2a time to be born and a time to die.” He says in James 4:14: “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
I am not trying to be negative or pessimistic. In fact, if we have given our lives to Jesus as our Savior, we can be sure the rest of our eternity after our death will be far better than it has been here. We will spend the rest of eternity with Jesus in a place where “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
If you are not certain about your eternal future, you can be. God tells us why He has given us His Word, the Bible in 1 John 5:13: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” You can find out how to make Jesus your Savior and be sure about your eternal future here: Meet Jesus.
Whatever time we have here on earth we must use to glorify and serve God. This includes together as a couple in marriage.
Reaching the last quarter of my life makes me want to make sure I don’t fail to finish strong. We should all want to say with Paul, as he writes in 2 Timothy 4:7: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
Early in my marriage, Sabra and I went to a money planning conference. The speaker said there were three things we could do with our money. We could choose to waste it, spend it, or invest it. And the same is true of our time, however much we have left together here on earth.
Wasting our time is using it on meaningless things. Wasting our time is spending it only on ourselves, the things we want to do, and the things that bring us pleasure. There is nothing wrong with those things, unless that is all we are doing.
Investing our time is spending it on the eternal things of God that will last far beyond our lifetime. It is like leaving money behind when we die that can be used for the good of our family. It is similar to leaving our possessions to organizations that will use them to further God’s kingdom.
Investing time is spending it with God together in His Word, and in prayer, so we can hear Him tell us what to do with our marriage. He tells us how we can help each other become what He wants us to be. And He reveals to us ways we can serve Him together.
We invest our time well when we spend it with our children teaching them “the way they should go” so that “when they are old they will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6; see also Ephesians 6:4). We invest our time well when we “Honor [our] father and mother” (Ephesians 6:2).
Time well invested is using it to serve God by serving others together. God tells us clearly in Philippians 2:3-4: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.”
We are told to serve others many times and in many ways throughout Scripture. We read, for example, in James 1:27: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (bold mine).
Hebrews 13:16 says: “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased” (bold mine). God asks us in 1 John 3:17: “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”
God tells us that the evidence of our faith in Christ is observed in our ministry to others. We read this in James 2:14-17: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
Jesus taught a similarly powerful truth. He is describing the final judgment. He informs us how He will determine who will go to heaven with Him based on those deeds that are a demonstration of our faith in Him. We read this in Matthew 25:34-36: “‘Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”’”
Jesus concludes this teaching by telling why this is so important. He says in Matthew 25:40: “‘The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”’” When we minister together to others, it is as if we are serving Jesus Himself.
We can use our time better by discovering opportunities to tell others about Jesus. Jesus’ final words to His followers is about this. We read in Acts 1:8: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’”
We can’t change our past. I can’t not say hurtful things that I’ve said to Sabra in the past. I can’t undo things that I’ve done. I can’t go back and say something I wish I had said, or do something for her that I wish I had but didn’t.
But I can learn from those things. I can do my best with God’s help not to repeat my past mistakes. There is something we can all change. We can change how we live and use our time from this moment forward; how we spend the rest of our days on this earth.
We can foolishly waste our time or invest it wisely. The choice is ours.
We can spend it and invest it wisely by following Paul’s model in Philippians 3:13-14: “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
We can obey God’s instructions in Hebrews 12:1-2: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
To make the most of our marriage and the most of our lives, these are certain God-given formulas for using whatever time we have well, wisely, and to the glory of God.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
♦ Read this week’s teaching together. Discuss the things God taught you through it.
♦ Evaluate your lives, individually and together. Would you say you are wasting, spending, or investing your time? Are you spending and investing it wisely in a God pleasing and honoring manner? How might you use your time more wisely?
♦ Go through the ways described in this week’s teaching about ways we can use our time for Christ. Are these ways you are using your time? Are any of these ways that you can start using your time for God and others? What are ways you can prioritize your time to make certain you are better using it for God’s purposes?
♦ Close your time together in prayer. Ask Him to help you recognize ways you can better use your time. Ask Him to empower you to do the things that He reveals to you.
Until next week, may God bless you and your marriage in all His wonderful ways,