The Value of Time

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There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die… (Eccl. 3:1 NIV)

Born and grown in a Chinese family, I know the Chinese people value longevity. Birthdays are celebrated more than any other milestones in life. In the earlier years of my marriage, my mother-in-law cooked birthday misua when anyone in the family celebrates his/her birthday. She would send some to her daughter’s family.  In return, my sister-in-law sent birthday gifts (eggs, boxes of misua and canned goods of pork legs). Eggs and misua are food related to long life. Pork legs might be delicious but seemingly not a life-prolonging food. LOL! In recent years, families dine out to celebrate birthdays. All children and grandchildren wear red.  Even among Christians, celebrating milestone birthdays (60th,70th,80th,90th) is a tradition. Having parents who live a long happy and healthy life is a symbol of filial piety.

The ideal of longevity is a pursuit of man towards his control or ownership of time. Life on earth is measured in terms of days, months and years. Near the end of his life, Moses asked the Lord to ‘teach us to number our days that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.’ (Psalm 90:12) Numbering is more than just counting. To put a number to each day of our lives is to put importance and significance to it. The traditional Chinese calendar is meaningful as there is an individual page to each day of the year.  More than life having an end, each moment is ‘allotted time’ – a precious gift from God. Do we need wisdom to number our days? Or do we gain wisdom from numbering our days?  The God of eternity and Creator of time can ‘Teach’ us to make our life worthwhile.

We say life is short. We also feel how fast time passed us by. Notice how Hong Kong people are always in a hurry; they walk fast, talk fast, and they even have to eat fast because many others are waiting. Time is so limited and there are so much to do we need to manage our time wisely. What is more important and what is more urgent? Sometimes, the urgent stuff makes us forget the important stuff. What does God want me to do quickly? What do I ask God to do quickly for me? Am I patient when God wants me to wait? Do I linger when He calls me to act?

Time is precious. 一寸光阴一寸金,寸金难买寸光阴. A unit of time equals a unit of gold; a unit of gold cannot buy a unit of time. Eternal life in heaven is paid at the great price of the blood of God’s only Son. Life is precious because man’s first breath started with the breath of God. Man was created in God’s image and his redemption realized through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. Each measure of time is equal to each breath of God. Each moment in eternity is equal to each drop of Jesus’ blood. If one could measure eternity then he would realize how great the value of God’s salvation plan!

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