Tom Hinkle - Time - Salem, Oregon - April 28, 2002

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven:  A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace."  Verse 17, "I said in mine heart, 'God shall judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.'"

 

Solomon was speaking about time and pointing out to us that there is a time for everything.  One time you gather stones together and then there is another time when you throw them away.  It seems to fit in with so many other things that Solomon said about life being in vain.  He says one time you gather things together and then you throw them away.  What is the profit in it?  He realized also that there is a time when God will judge the earth; God will judge the righteous and the wicked.


I had a boss one time who told me that time is money.  We were making these little pieces to sell and he had me time myself to see how many I could do in a minute and in an hour, then to see if I could do it faster the next time.  He brought it right down to the seconds and pennies, and he just showed me that time is money.  He really wanted to impress that on me so that I would use my time well.  I think I tried to.  I guess at that time that is all that it meant to me, that time is money.  I think of it in a far different sense since then.  What is it that each one of us has to spend?  Isn't it time, all in equal amounts?  It is just our time.  When we woke up this morning, there was going to be 60 minutes in every hour for you and for me.  And there is going to be 24 hours in every day - the same for you as for me.  We have all been allotted this same amount of time. 


Now, maybe our lifetime won't be as long as another, but one thing that I am conscious of is that I am spending it, and I am spending it fast.  But, what are we spending it for?  When Solomon looked at the way that time was being spent in his life, he could see that one day he was doing one thing and the next, the opposite, and there was no profit in it.  He was spending time, but what was he getting out of it?  What does it take to have a profitable life?  Here is one thing that you and I are both doing:  we are spending time.

 

Isn't it amazing how fast the years go?  A week is gone in just a little while, then a month, then a year; it is all spent and what have you spent it for?  You cannot spend it again.  I remember Dan Hilton used to tell us that his life was like a coin; you could spend it any way you want to, but you could spend it just once.  We have all been allotted time. It is like God has given us an allowance.  He passes out a little allowance today, 24 hours, and maybe some of us won't even make the 24 hours today.  But should we, He may decide to give us some more time. He wants to see how we are going to spend it.


A little story about my mother:  she was a little concerned about how she was going to divide up the inheritance that she had to leave behind. She is not even gone yet, so why worry about that?   After all, she doesn't have that much to leave, and 7 to divide it amongst!  I said to her, "Mom, you know what you ought to do? You should give 10 bucks to each one of your kids, watch them spending it and the one that spends the most like you would have, then just give him everything, all of the rest."  I don't think she took my advice, and I doubt that she will.  I think that is a little like what God is doing.  He is giving us time, and he is watching how we spend it.  He would like to, after time is no more, give us eternity.  There is no way to describe eternity.  It is a time without end.  It is a lot of things; you cannot measure it in hours, or years, or light years; you cannot measure it in any direction.  It is like time that has no end.  Wouldn't we all like to have that? 


Everyone complains that they are running out of time.  They just do not have enough time to do everything that they want to do.  How many of us have ever complained that there is just not enough time in the day?  We all have this same amount of time and we can spend it any way we want to.

 

The God in heaven, who allots time or gives us our allowance, is watching how we spend it.  It is just like money, but is it money in the bank?  Is it spent on anything profitable?  Our life and our time are going to run out together and that is going to be it.  That is what Solomon was worried about.  He felt like life was passing him by, time was running out and was there going to be anything left called eternity that would pay a dividend? I think of all of us want that, don't we?

 

I don't know how many of you have ever sat down and thought about how you spend your time, maybe take an hour, and say, "What did I do in this hour?"  I worked at a place one time where we had a time card.  There were different jobs and each job had a number.  If you worked on this job two hours, you would write that down, and so on for different jobs all day.  This was to keep track of your time, because time was money. Have you ever really sat down and thought about how you spend your time in an hour or in a day, week, month, or a year? 


There is an article that my mom sent to me; I'm not sure where she got it, Reader's Digest probably.  It tells how the average person spends their time, a lifetime.  I think it is based on a 70 year life. Presently, the average is a little better than that.  In this article, the years are cumulative. There are three years spent in education; there are eight years spent in amusement, six years spent eating.  Five years are spent in transportation.  I think I will spend more than that; it seems that I am on the road all the time!  Four years are spent in conversation, fourteen years are spent at work, three years are spent reading, twenty-four years are spent sleeping, and three years are spent in convalescence.  It is interesting to me to just see how my time is being spent, where the day went.  Well, six to eight hours went for sleeping.  If I slept eight hours, that is one third of my day.  The biggest part of the day goes for working, 14 years out of a 70 year lifetime.  A person would feel quite a bit like Solomon, wouldn't they? They didn't get anything out of it, so what good was it?

 

God would like to teach us how to make our time count for something, something more than just work, something more than play.  We could rearrange this thing and say, “I am just not going to work so hard; I am going to play more.  I will beat the odds a little bit.”  Maybe you worked only 12 years instead of the average of 14, but at the end of the time, did the pleasure bring any more profit than the work?  This little article about time says that if a person went to a 60 minute service once a week and spent 30 minutes praying each day (you could probably add to that some time you spent reading Scripture), and maybe you prayed more than that and you went to more than one service in a week, but if we add it up, it boils down to a year and a half spent for God out of a 70 year life.  So we realize that it is only this time that is spent profitably for eternity.  We can pretty well say that time spent for things that are on this earth just stay right here and there is no profit in it; it does not have a value that overlaps into eternity. You know, I think everyone here realizes that you could spend 60 minutes right here listening to the Gospel and it wouldn't necessarily be time spent for God.  In fact, we don't come here and call this time spent for God, at least I hope not!  This is time spent for us.  This is time spent learning how to spend our time so that there is a profit in it when time is all over - so that there is a profit for eternity. So, we look at our life and say, this is how it is going to be spent. We have been allotted so much, so how am I going to do it on a daily basis?  In II Corinthians it tells us, "Now is the time," speaking about turning to God spiritually, putting the right things in our lives.

 

When I was quite young I knew a man, not real well because I didn't see him often, but one thing he did not have time for was for God.  There were too many things going on in his life, too many responsibilities, he felt.  When he wasn't working, he felt he needed to relax, so there was never any time for God.  He was asked one day by a servant of God, "Alfred, when are you going to do something about this matter of serving God?"  His reply was, "I just don't have time right now."  He said, "I have to make a living for my family, I have responsibilities, there are people that rely on me, I am so busy and just don't have time now, but when I get old, then I want to do something for God."  That is kind of like squeezing the lemon and handing God the rind.  Would we ever be guilty of such a thing as that?  I went to Alfred's funeral when I was 12 years old, and he had never found time for God.  He had developed a habit of spending his time and was never able to break out of that habit.  Even after he retired, he found out that retirement does not mean that you don't have anything to do.  You can be just as busy in retirement as you ever were, and still no time for God.


If you read those verses in Ecclesiastes 3, you will see that there was time for everything, but it doesn't tell anything about time for God. And this article that I read about how most of us spend our time, you see hardly any room for time spent for God.  Think of it this way:  if we took Jesus into this heart of ours to work with us every day, that is the biggest segment of time that a person spends every day.  14 years are going to be spent working, and it looks like it is just lost time, time for education and six years at the dinner table.  All of those are necessary and we had to be there, at least most of that time.  You know, if we took Jesus with us in this heart of ours, the spirit of God into everything we do, then none of it would be lost time.  It would not be time that we would say, well, there was no profit in it.  It would no longer be misspent time.  Six years spent at the dinner table could be six years spent for God.  Fourteen years spent at work could be fourteen years spent for the Lord.  This 70 years that we are allotted on this earth looks like a long time, but there are several people in this meeting that have seen 70 years behind them a long time ago, some 20 years ago and more.


God knows how we are going to spend eternity by how we spend this life we have been given.  He knows how much we value the time that He has given us by how we have spent it.   Really, He is doing just like what I told my mother to do.  He is allowing us just a very small margin of what eternity is all about:  timelessness.  He would never want to entrust a period of timelessness to a person who did not spend it wisely.  There is no doubt that He has a lot for His people to do in eternity.  Those who are willing to spend their time profitably, with the Spirit in it, is the way that He wants us to spend eternity.  When we have the privilege and the opportunity in this life to spend our time profitably, spiritually, we will never regret it, and we will get to heaven for all eternity.