Philip Larkin asks, “Where can we live but days?” and then remarks that “solving that question / Brings the priest and the doctor / In their long coats / Running over the fields.”
Another poet a couple of thousand years removed from Larkin, the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, wrote, “Even if you are going to live 3000 more years, or ten times that, remember: you cannot lose another life than the one you are living now, or live another than the one you are losing…the present is the same for everyone, and it should be clear that a brief instant is what is lost. For you can’t lose the past or the future—how can you lose what you don’t possess?”
What are we doing with our days? One third grader was asked what he did at school all day and replied, “I fight and take tests.” That’s a pretty good description of our lives—fight and take tests. Sometimes it seems like every moment is either a great struggle or a moment of decision. Is that what life is supposed to be like?
Paul explained what we are supposed to be doing with our days, saying,
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Eph. 5:15-16)
Life is not about fighting and taking tests. It’s about using the time God gives you wisely, understanding his will for the present, and seizing the moment to perform it.
There are two words for “time” in the New Testament. Chronos signifies chronological time; it has to do with clocks, calendars, schedules, agendas, and pressure. Chronos is not the word used here. The word used here is kairos, which has to do with an opportune or appointed time, hence the translation “opportunity” in the NIV.
To Paul, the present moment was a wonderful opportunity. “The days are evil”; they soon pass. Therefore it is a tragedy to waste any moment that can be used for doing God’s will.
Does that mean that you have to be an expert at time management and have enormous To Do lists and be known as a productivity wizard? No, God’s will for the moment you’re in may be to play with your kids, or eat dinner with a friend, or sit alone and pray. It may be to assist your neighbor with a need, or invite a friend to church, or share the gospel with a family member. It may be to cook dinner, or mow the yard, or watch a movie with your kids. It may be an opportunity to attend Bible class, or it may be an opportunity to worship.
Just don’t waste your days on fighting and taking tests. Do important, God-driven things with your days. Exchange them like valuable currency, because that’s what they are. Your days are either storing up treasure in heaven, or they are spelling a wasted life.