(J.R. Miller, 1898)
“Be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise–making the most of your time!” Ephesians 5:15-16
If you saw a man standing by the shore, and flinging gold coins and diamonds into the sea–you would say that he was insane. Yet God sees many people continually doing something very like this. Not gold and precious stones, do they this throw away–but minutes, hours, days, weeks, and years of time–possessions which are of greater worth than any gems of earth!
If we knew the intrinsic value of time–we would not allow a moment of it ever to be wasted!
It is said that in the mints, where gold is coined, that the sweepings of the floors are gathered and passed through the fire, and that in the course of a year large amounts of gold are saved from the mere dust of the precious gold which flies from it as it passes through the various processes of minting.
In the same way, what vast values would be saved if there were some way of gathering up all the little fragments of the days and hours–the golden dust of time, which people let drop amid the wastes!
Then think how much most of us would really add to the length of our life, if we had learned to use every hour and moment. We talk seriously of the brevity of life. We are often heard complaining about the shortness of the days, wishing they had many more hours in them. Probably the majority of people waste one-half of their time, and have made only one-half as much of their life as they might have done–if they had only used their time with wise economy, and had not squandered any of it.
There are many ways of wasting time. Many people waste a great deal of time in little fragments–five minutes here, ten minutes there, half an hour today, and an hour tomorrow. Those who understand the true value of time, and have learned the secret of using it, always have something worth while to fill up all the little interstices. They have a good book to read when they find a few minutes to spare; or on any occasion of delay.
Time is also well spent, in which we get a beautiful thought, an important fact or a suggestion of a lesson into our mind. Or the fragments of time may be filled with little acts of helpfulness or kindness. It is one of the finest secrets of life, to know how to redeem the minutes from waste, and to make them bearers of blessing, of cheer, of encouragement, of good, to others. Then the whole world is sweeter, because of every kindness done or good word spoken.
Much time is wasted in useless activities–in doing things which are not worth while. There are things which are not regarded as sins–but which are of no value to anyone, and bring no benefit to him who spends his time in doing them.
There is a great deal of reading that is not worth while. You go through book after book, and from all the pages you do not get one enriching thought, one helpful inspiration, or one impulse toward a holier life. All you have at the end of a year of such reading, is only a confused memory of exciting sensations, unwholesome incidents, and unreal experiences. You would better have spent the time in sleep or in sheer idleness, than in going through such worthless books!
There is altogether too much of such reading done. There are good novels, great works of fiction, which teach splendid lessons, which show magnificent character and noble conduct, which inspire their readers to truer, holier living. But there are novels which give unworthy and unwholesome thoughts of life, which leave in the mind of readers a residuum of unholy thoughts, false ideals, thetrail of the serpent. Then there are novels which, if they are not positively evil in their spirit and tendency–are inane, senseless, with nothing in them to make any one truer, holier, or sweeter-spirited.
A great deal of the popular reading of our day is but a waste of time, if not worse! If instead of it people would read only that which is worth while–how much richer they would be at the end of their life!
No problem that comes before us is more important than this–what to do with time. In youth, we learn how to live. The habits we form then, will go with us to the end of our days. If we learn then the value of moments, and form the habit of giving every minute something worthy to do–we shall have found a secret of successful living.
“Teach us to number our days aright–that we may gain a heart of wisdom!” Psalm 90:12