By sis Sara Ong
Given our mortality, we humans are invariably mindful of time and the use of it. We keep it, while it away, buy it, are robbed of it, lose track of it, waste it, kill it and try to save it. Yet in spite of everything we do to it, time continues to eludes us as the truth of the matter is, we are not the masters of time. Unlike the fictitious Doctor Strange, we can’t slow down the ticktock rhythm or halt the inexorable march of time, let alone wind back the clock. All we can do is to make the most out of the time we have.
All of us have only one lifetime to live, which as described in Ecclesiastes 6:12 are but few days which pass like a shadow. “For who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?” So, with time being such a precious commodity, how we choose to use it, what we decide to use it on and with whom we spend it with is important. This evaluation of the use of our time or the determination of the value we place on our time, is shaped by the strength of our motivations, goals, aspirations and priorities. Most of us would be familiar with the “10,000-Hour Rule” to achieve mastery of something, popularized by author Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers: The Story of Success. Although his theory was debunked in other studies, suffice to say, if we are determined to get better at something or to achieve a certain outcome, we need to deliberately put in the hours. So, someone desiring to be the next Allyson Felix (decorated Olympian in track and field) will devote countless hours to rigorous training. Another mesmerized by the grace of Misty Copeland (renowned ballerina) and inspired to follow in her footsteps, will practice long and hard for hours on end. Others with an altruistic heart that nurtures their deep resolve to help the underprivileged, will purposefully dedicate time to serve and make a difference. Evidently, what undergirds the reason(s) for why we are willing to spend time on something, is a true reflection of the value we accord to that particular thing or endeavor and its worth of our time.
Naturally when we need to apportion our time, the corollary is certain things will have to be sacrificed. Closely associated with the question on how much something is worth our time is the question of whether we can tolerate the trade-offs. Some of us may perform a cost-benefit analysis to compartmentalize what is beneficial to spend time on versus what is not and at what cost. Others leverage on time management tools to help them optimize their use of time to lessen the trade-offs. Whichever method we employ, the crux of the matter is we need to be conscious of spending more time on the things that hold true eternal value and are of Godly purpose. So, truthfully, how much time are we giving to God? Do we endeavor to be fruitful workers in God’s vineyard and will therefore gladly allocate 10,000 hours to do His work? Or are we more ready to compromise our involvement in the Lord’s church for more enticing secular pursuits?
In the story of Mary and Martha found in Luke 10:38-42, we learn that Martha was pre-occupied with being a hospitable host and “was distracted with much serving”. Mary on the other hand, sat at the Lord’s feet and paid attention to His teaching and was credited for choosing “the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” In another account found in Luke 9:57-62, we read of the various reasons given by the disciples when Jesus called them to follow Him. They all professed to be willing to follow Him eventually, but wanted to see to some things first, and they were educated by Jesus who said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” These Biblical accounts teach us about having our priorities in order and that God and His Word should take precedence over all other matters that may seem important for us to first sort out. The timeless lesson in our walk of faith is that God should come first always, and our demonstration of His value to us and our love for Him is in the amount of time we devote to Him and His Word.