Psalm 90:12 “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Luke 12:20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”
Ephesians 5:15 “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise.”
Life is filled with opportunities, but the big question is what we do with them. Do we let them slip by, saying, “Maybe next time. There is always another day”? Or, do we grab them? We may not have as much time as we think. Not merely to count them, how many they are, in an arithmetical way; there is no need of divine teachings for that nor is this to be understood of calculating or reckoning of time to come – no man can count the number of days he has to live. The number of his days, months, and years, is with the Lord but is hid from him. But rather the meaning of the plea is that God would teach us to number our days, as if the present one was the last. For we cannot boast of tomorrow, we know not but this day or night, our souls may be required of us. But the sense is, that God would teach us seriously to meditate on and consider of the shortness of our days. That they are but as a shadow and to observe how unprofitably we have spent them, which may put us upon redeeming time and also to take notice of the goodness of God that has followed us all our days which may lead us to repentance and engage us in the fear of God.
What is Jesus’ story about the talents saying to us in Matthew 25:14-30? I think it is quite obvious. Jesus is like that wealthy man who goes on a journey which spans the day he left this earth to the day he returns in the Second Coming. We are the servants he has invested in, and we are to take what he has given us and use it for his glory while we await his return. In the story the first servant took what he had, invested it, and received a 100 percent return. He doubled his master’s investment. The second, though he had less, did the same thing. This demonstrates that it is not a person’s talent that matters as much as how he or she uses that talent. God never demands from us the abilities we don’t have. But He does demand that we should use to the full, the abilities that we do possess. We may not be equal in talent but we should be equal in effort. Take what God has given to you and do the most that you can with it for his glory. God can do a lot with a little. If you don’t believe me, just look at the story of the boy with the five loaves and two fish who gave everything he had to Jesus. It didn’t seem like a lot, but Jesus used them to feed a hungry multitude. Jesus can take a little, bless it and multiply it. He can use it beyond our wildest dreams.
If we will humble ourselves, take what we have and offer it to God, if we will be willing to do what He has placed before us and be faithful in the little things, then He will give us more to do. I would rather try and fail than never try at all. Any time you take a chance, you may fail. But it is better to try than to never take chances and never have anything happen in your life. So grab the day, seize the moment and take the opportunities before you. Don’t put it off too long, because you may not have as much time as you think. Be productive with your life and with your time. Seize the opportunities God has given you. How then should one live? The Apostle says: “Be very careful how you live.” Literally, he speaks of walking – what we call the walk of life. Paul says, “Be careful in your walk of life.” Our walk of life refers to the life that has its origin and destination in God. Proper “walking” means that you live a life that has received its meaning from God. This kind of walking is a gift of God. The people of other faith don’t know this. They don’t walk, because they don’t have time. They run from one thing to another and they never can relax. But a child of God can walk – a child of God walks right toward eternity! For this reason it says that we have to live carefully. Children of God have to watch precisely how we walk in the way of God. The Apostle says we must “make the most of every opportunity.” That is how you are wise. We have to make the most of the present time for God. But that is where we have a constant problem, for Satan will fill your time with everything except the service of the Lord. For “the days are evil,” the times are wrong, let us be thankful that there is still opportunity to be dedicated to God.
And “do not be foolish.” We have to understand what the Lord’s will is. That doesn’t mean that it is hard to understand, for it is the will of God which we see in Christ Jesus. The fact that we have the Savior Jesus Christ and that He did his redeeming work, is the will of the Lord for us. And that is what we have to understand. It is not too difficult. We don’t have to ascend into heaven, or descend into the depth. The Word, the will of God, is near us in our mouth and in our heart. That Word places the wisdom of God right in front of us. With that Word of God we should be filled all the time. For then we will become wise, and we will learn to be very careful. That is the way God wants us to be. Live wisely therefore, making the most of the opportunities granted to you in this life. You never know how long you will have the time. The clock is running, and we are getting closer to the end of all things. Who will take your opportunities? Devil will only waste your time. With God we will have eternal opportunities for life!
In the Gospel lesson includes a familiar parable of Jesus in which a wealthy farmer has an abundant harvest which creates a problem for him. What to do with all the grain? What to do with all the things the income from the grain has acquired? He says to himself, “I will tear down the barns and I will build bigger barns, and I will fill my bigger barns with all the grain and with all my other things. And then I will say to myself, ‘You finally have the security you have worked so hard to achieve. So relax! Take it easy! Eat, drink and have fun!'” God says to this wealthy farmer, “You fool! What good is all the grain? What good are all these things, for tonight you will die?” Taking that as the order, what it means to number our days? It means to recognize that life is very short. The Bible gives us many illustrations to make us understand the brevity of life. But we live in a world where people do not recognize that fact. I would say to myself, as I say to you, oh may we number our days and not forget, in the midst of the hustle and bustle of life, to keep this ever before us: our life is short at its best. What we have to consider is: How does God teach us this lesson? He teaches us by His holy Word. The Bible explains to us why it is that man dies. Why do we die at all? The Bible alone is the place we go to discover a reason for this. It is that God reckons the first sin of the first man to be the sin of all His children: the attribution of Adam’s first sin. That is why our life is short and why we must die. God tells us and teaches us that in His holy Word. God teaches us this also by experiences. We must experience the saving grace of God: conviction of sin and conversion, which is the work of God; all of that is necessary in order that we might learn this important lesson. But the experiences of grace and having fellowship with the Lord’s people, also teach us the same thing. One of the experiences of grace that God gives to His people is, when He transforms them to Himself, He begins to turn their minds round from the vanities and follies of this world, to consider life from the perspective of truth. God teaches us also by the mistakes of others; why did Christ tell us the parable of the rich fool but for this reason? Do you recall the parable? The rich man whose barns were too small to contain all his grain? He broke them down and built bigger barns and jam-packed all the grain inside, and then he said to his soul, “And I will say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” Christ tells us that, obviously, to make us realize the shortness of our life, and to use the bit of it we have got left in a wiser way than that unhappy man did. So, through the mistakes of others we need to learn to number our days! Sadly, all people around us are living the life of the rich fool. Nothing is going to last or take them to a happy world above. Oh, that is the sadness of this world and of this generation.
There is a time for everything, so manage your time well. Ecclesiastes 3 says: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4) And so on. It is beautiful poetry, and a beautiful reminder that there is a right time and a right season for everything. We just need the wisdom to match the right activities with the right times. There is a time for everything, and so we need to manage our time well. Make sure our priorities are in line with God’s priorities. Some people spend their whole life climbing the ladder and then they get to the top only to discover it was leaning against the wrong wall. You need to make God’s priorities your priorities. As Jesus said in Matthew 6:33: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” You need to make sure the tasks on your calendar line up with God’s overall purpose for your life. Are you loving God and serving others? Are you working hard to provide for your family? Are you getting adequate rest and exercise? Do you make personal time each day for the word of God and prayer? Do you worship regularly with your church family on a weekly basis? Managing your time well is not just about productivity. It’s about balance. There is a time to work hard, and there is a time to rest; there is a time to focus on projects, and there is a time to focus on people. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “God has made everything beautiful in its time.” Time is a gift from God. And God has given you sufficient time to accomplish everything he has called you to do in your life.
The days are evil, so be careful how you live. Look at Ephesians 5:15-17 with me: “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” The days are evil. That simply means that we live in a sinful world where sinful choices are made each day, and each of those choices defile God’s good gift of time. And because the days are evil, God urges us to be careful how we live. Enjoy the good things God has given you on this planet while you can. Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.” If you really want to make your time count, then seek God’s will on a daily basis. Most of God’s will is clearly laid out for you in the Scriptures. God will never lead you to do anything that is contrary to his revealed will in the Word. So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. James 4 talks about the person who says: “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money” And then James responds, “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15) Living carefully in evil times means you yield every action, every decision to the Lord’s will. And always leave room for God to change your plans. Proverbs 16:9 says: “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” God can overrule at any time, so let him. He knows better than you know, how best to apportion your time. Don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.