What Do You Do with Your Time?
“There is . . . a time for every purpose under heaven.”—Eccl. 3:1, Am. Stan. Ver.
1. Why did Paul write that the ‘appointed time was short’?
JEHOVAH inspired the apostle Paul to warn a Christian congregation nineteen centuries ago: “The appointed time has grown very short.” (1 Cor. 7:29, An Amer. Trans.) This sobering pronouncement from the lips of one of the world’s foremost authorities on Christianity should be thoughtfully considered by men living in this twentieth century. “But why,” you may ask, “should we be particularly concerned now? What time, then, grown so short could possibly affect this generation?” Paul looked confidently forward to the end of the present system of things with its confusion, corruption and violence; and his confidence was based on Holy Scripture and the words of his Master, Christ Jesus. Had not Jesus told his disciples he would come and that this old world would have an end? Yes; so they believed it and sought further information from him. In answer to their question, “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” Jesus enumerated events which would occur to mark his coming as enthroned King and the beginning of the end of this world system. Paul was looking for the end and its accompanying signs when he gave the above-quoted warning. The passing of the many intervening years has not served to postpone the “appointed time”. If the time was short in Paul’s day, it must be much shorter now.
2, 3. Why must the time be shorter now than in Paul’s day?
2 But to bring the matter even closer home: Do you know that the very signs Jesus foretold and his apostles looked for have seen fulfillment on this present generation? Look for yourself at Matthew chapter 24, Luke chapter 21, and Mark chapter 13, to see what Jesus said the signs would be: nation rising against nation in total war, famines, pestilence and earthquakes, with more sorrows to come. Then call to mind what has been taking place upon the earth, say during the past 36 years. Do you not note the striking parallel, that these same events have already been visited upon this very generation?
3 The fact that this series of events, along with others also foretold by Jesus, has been occurring particularly since 1914 may not strike you as significant until it is also called to attention that the year 1914, according to Bible chronology, marks the end of the Gentile times, or the period of 2,520 years which was foretold to intervene between God’s casting off the unfaithful nation of Israel in 607 B.C. and the restoration of Theocratic rule by installing Christ Jesus as heavenly King. These signs stand out like mileposts, notifying men and nations of their whereabouts on the stream of time. Whereas Paul had only the eye of faith with which to look for the end of the world and its attendant wickedness, we have before our very eyes this series of happenings of world-shaking magnitude, testifying that we are living in the last days!
4. As it is 1900 years since Paul wrote it was short, why now short?
4 It might still be argued that Paul thought the time was short away back in his day; so while we can readily see the signs that Jesus foretold would mark the beginning of the time of the end, why are we not justified in concluding that there is yet ample time? Perhaps several generations will yet come and go before God’s wrath is expressed against wickedness and its final end brought about. Such a conclusion should be hastily dismissed from mind, for Jesus further said, when speaking of the signs: “This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” (Matt. 24:34) It is the generation you are living in that is primarily concerned.
5. Why do we here call attention to the shortness of the time?
5 These facts are not here called to attention to paralyze you into fearful inactivity, but rather to awaken you to the significance of the times, the rare privilege that can be yours and the most profitable manner of using the remaining time. Of all the times that one might have lived, certainly this is the most blessed, notwithstanding the trials now afflicting humankind. We are living at the climax of the ages, when a corrupt world is in its death throes and a bright new world, with growing power, is crowding wickedness into a corner, there to crush it and rid the earth of it forever. ‘The great day of the LORD hasteth greatly,’ warned the prophet Zephaniah (1:14) As it comes on apace, let us not be found among the scoffers who push the end into the remote future saying, “Perhaps sometime, but not in our day!” Such a group has lived upon this earth in the past.
6, 7. What illustration forewarns us against any scoffing now?
6 If you do feel inclined to scoff at the evidence of the shortness of the remaining time you could profitably spend a few moments of the undetermined number which remain for you to consider an event which took place 1,656 years after man had been placed upon the earth. The righteous man Noah had just completed the construction of a gigantic boat. During the course of its building he had also been delivering a message to the wicked and corrupt race of men who had turned their back upon the righteous requirements of the Creator, Jehovah God, and had willfully followed the lead of the adversary, Satan the Devil. They had no time for this “preacher of righteousness”. Instead of heeding his warning of the nearness of impending doom they occupied themselves with their own selfish pleasure. Then, with startling suddenness, the flood waters struck! Fear filled their hearts and brought to them the awful realization that their time had not been profitably spent in taunting and casting reproach upon Noah and his family. Even as the lives of the wicked were snuffed out, Noah and the seven who had profitably spent their time as God had commanded them were comfortably situated within the protection of the ark. Before any scoff it is good to know that the apostle Peter described a similar end for those living in this day who willfully ignore the signs which prove the nearness of the end of this world.
7 Said Peter in this regard: “First of all, you must understand this, that in the last days mockers will come with their mockeries, going where their passions lead and saying, ‘Where is his promised coming? For ever since our forefathers fell asleep everything has remained as it was from the beginning of creation!’ For they wilfully ignore the fact that long ago there existed heavens and an earth which had been formed at God’s command out of water and by water, by which also that world was destroyed, through being flooded with water. But by the same command the present heavens and earth are stored up for fire, and are kept for the day when godless men are to be judged and destroyed.” (2 Pet. 3:3-7, An Amer. Trans.) This testimony is fully corroborated by Jesus himself when he said, “For just as it was in the time of Noah, it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For just as in those days before the flood people were eating and drinking, marrying and being married, until the very day Noah entered the ark, and knew nothing about it until the flood came and destroyed them all, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.”—Matt. 24:37-39, An Amer. Trans.
8. Why should the world’s stable appearance not fool us?
8 If, from outward appearances, it seems to you there is no sign that the old world is on the brink of disaster, but that its institutions are strong and stable, remember this significant incident. When the nation of Israel was fleeing from the oppressive Pharaoh, his armies were never in better form. His hosts were at the height of their military power and glory; the fleeing Israelites trapped before them seemed an easy prey. From outward appearances that army had many years of activity yet ahead. But that army’s time was not profitably spent when it dashed between the towering walls of sea water that Jehovah had caused to open for the passage of his chosen nation. In a matter of moments that once powerful army was reduced to a pile of junk and silent bodies.—Exodus, chapters 14, 15.
FACING THE QUESTION
9. In view of the evidence, what question poses itself?
9 To thoughtful men this evidence that the present power of the nations will not forestall the day of destruction, together with the Scriptural proof that the remaining time is short, poses the question, What shall we do in the remaining time that we may use it most profitably? Or, as Peter put it: “Seeing that these things are thus all to be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy living and godliness?” (2 Pet. 3:11, Am Stan. Ver.) The contrast is also sharply drawn between what the future holds for those who do and those who do not make wise use of their time. A wise person, accepting the clear Scriptural proof of the time in which we live, finds out what to do and when to do it. So doing, he need not fear the expression of God’s judgment upon him. “A wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment.”—Eccl. 8:5.
10, 11. Of what value or harm is our gaining material wealth now?
10 Manifestly, if the old world is soon to go to destruction, a wise man knows that he cannot spend his time as the world does. Operating under the principle that “gain is godliness” (1 Tim. 6:5), the world dashes blindly after wealth and power. Their wealth is used to provide luxuries which turn the mind even farther from God. But happiness and contentment are not their lot. Before yielding to the temptation to seek after wealth during the remaining time, or even for a short part of it, hear Paul’s advice to Timothy on the subject. “But men who want to get rich fall into temptations and snares and many foolish, harmful cravings, that plunge people into destruction and ruin. For love of money is the root of all the evils, and in their eagerness to get rich, some men wander away from the faith and pierce themselves to the heart with many a pang.”—1 Tim. 6:9, 10, An Amer. Trans.
11 The wise King Solomon records that after indulging himself in gardens, homes, slaves, wealth, provinces and all sorts of luxury he was forced to conclude that “everything was vanity and striving for the wind, and there was no profit under the sun”. (Eccl. 2:1-11, An Amer. Trans.) Though a man might prove so adept at amassing wealth that he gain the entire world, he could not truthfully say he had spent his time profitably. “For what shall a man be profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and forfeit his life?” (Matt. 16:26, Am. Stan. Ver.) Solomon further observed, “I have seen all that goes on in this world; it is a vain, futile business.”—Eccl. 1:14, Moffatt.
12. Why is the short remaining time granted us?
12 How foolish it is, then, to spend time storing up riches which ‘moth and rust corrupt and thieves break through and steal’ or even to spend more time than is absolutely essential to provide for the necessities of life! (Matt. 6:19) To do so only turns the mind away from the more important things. The time which remains for this old world is not that we might follow such pursuits. In the short remaining time it is God’s will that all men learn of him and gain life. And how are men to learn of God and his requirements? The apostle Paul raises that same question and then provides the answer, at Romans 10:14: “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” Jehovah, who ‘has a time for every purpose’ (Eccl. 3:1), has set this time aside for the preaching of the gospel, and men must be the preachers. To emphasize the fact that gospel preaching would immediately precede the final end, Jehovah caused his only begotten Son to declare: “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”—Matt. 24:14.
13. Why view preaching as a most profitable spending of our time?
13 It is such a privilege to have a share in this activity that the Scriptures indicate that even the angels in heaven would rejoice at the opportunity. (1 Pet. 1:12) They do not feel it beneath their dignity or a waste of time to uphold Jehovah as the sovereign of the universe and make it known that his King, Christ Jesus, is enthroned. Yet this privilege is reserved for men, but even if every man were to fail to preach it would still be accomplished, for Jesus declared that if his followers should hold their peace “the stones would immediately cry out. (Luke 19:40) So Jesus set the proper pattern. He did not refrain from preaching, but fervently devoted his life to that one thing. Since he ‘left us an example that we should follow in his steps’ (1 Pet. 2:21), is not preaching the most profitable manner in which we could possibly spend our time?
14. Why spend time improving our abilities as ministers?
14 True, it is no small responsibility to be a spokesman or ambassador for the Government of Almighty God. Your life and the lives of others depend upon how well you preach, how convincing your argument, how steadfast your efforts. Men of this crumbling world grasp at the opportunity to be ambassadors of governments which are destined to fade away forever. Years of their lives are spent preparing to do their jobs well. Does it not seem, then, that we in whose hands rests an even greater responsibility can profitably spend some of our time in improving our abilities as ministers of God through study?
15. Who are admonished to study? Why is study necessary for them?
15 Study is indeed a profitable thing, and no Christian should allow himself to acquire the mistaken belief that he can gain the approval of God without studying, or that he is too busy to profitably spend time for study. The admonition, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God,” was not recorded for the benefit of persons who have not heretofore had a knowledge of the truth. Without continued study truths once highly treasured grow dim and fade away. To preach profitably to others the well of truth must be kept filled. The clergy, who waste their time on philosophy and the writings of men instead of studying God’s Word, are referred to in the Bible as “wells without water”. We, being leaky vessels, might become the same unless the waters of truth are replenished. Such a dried-out source can scarcely be expected to quench the thirst of a person seeking after the truth if haply he might find it. The time of both the hearer and the preacher would be wasted.
16. Why must we be at attention when studying and preaching?
16 Paul affirmed the close connection between preaching, teaching and study when he advised the young preacher Timothy: “Attend to your Scripture-reading, your preaching, and your teaching.” (1 Tim. 4:13, Moffatt) And do not Paul’s words hold further instruction for the time-conscious servant of God? “Attend to,” he says. How easy it is, while studying, to allow the mind to wander to things not apropos, so that, even while the eye is scanning the lines and pages, time is not being profitably spent. The hazy impression gained slips out of the mind quickly, for in reality it was never fixed there. For one to profitably use his time he must concentrate solely upon the work at hand. While studying, work hard at it; while preaching, let thoughts of accomplishing the most good in the available time fill the mind; and similarly with each task that falls into the hand of the Christian to do. ‘Do with your might what your hands find to do,’ admonish the Scriptures (Eccl. 9:10); and to do mighty works one cannot be content with ‘beating the air’. (1 Cor. 9:26) Knowledge is essential to profitable preaching.
17. What is the efficient method for Bible study? Why?
17 Increasing efficiency in study serves to enhance the value of time so spent. While reading the Bible from cover to cover will undoubtedly broaden one’s appreciation of the truth, knowledge is accumulated more rapidly by employing the topical method of study. For example, scriptures dealing with the resurrection are distributed throughout the entire Bible. One specifically interested in that subject will profit most by gathering these scattered texts together so that they may be compared one with another and hence God’s mind on the subject be determined. It is in this regard that publications of the Watchtower Society are especially valuable, since they present an array of assembled scriptures which would take an individual researcher many tedious hours to gather. Information gained through individual study, line upon line and precept upon precept’ (Isa. 28:10), provides a backlog of information from which to draw when discussing the Bible with others.
18. Can we take for granted our always having Bible literature? So?
18 In recent years the Lord has provided so bountifully for His servants that some may be prone to begin to take the spiritual food for granted. The world has so firmly adopted the attitude, “It can’t happen to us,” that the danger exists among Christians to forget that the adversary has not yet completed his days of roving about the earth seeking whom he may devour. Further tests may be confidently expected. It can and will happen to us. What form his attack will next take no one can foresee, but is it not possible that Satan may again do as he has done so many times in the past, withhold the Bible and kindred publications? In such an event, happy is the Christian who has done as warned: “My son, forget not my teaching, but keep my commands in mind.” (Prov. 3:1, An Amer. Trans.) Yes, time set aside to firmly fix God’s truths in mind through study is time profitably spent.
19. Why is meeting with others for study profitable?
19 Further assistance toward efficiency in gospel-preaching is afforded through instruction imparted at Christian meetings such as those conducted by Jehovah’s witnesses. No person can truthfully say he has progressed to the degree that he cannot learn from others. Whether one is considering the Bible itself or Bible helps such as The Watchtower, the presence of others proves stimulating and helpful. This is a divinely established rule: “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” (Prov. 27:17) It might be further observed: “Wherever two or three are gathered as my followers, I am there among them.” (Matt. 18:20, An Amer. Trans.) God’s spirit quickens the minds of those who obediently gather together to consider his Word. By participating in congregational study, not only does one gain from the thoughts expressed by others but he unselfishly helps his fellows to profit from the information he has on the subject. Thus, time is profitably spent by all.
20. Why is attendance at weekly service meeting time well spent?
20 Specific instruction on gospel-preaching is provided at the weekly service meeting of Jehovah’s witnesses. Much of the rapid growth in number of active witnesses of God in recent years can be attributed to training gained here. No course in high-pressure salesmanship, the meeting simply calls attention to the Scriptural manner of preaching adopted by Christ and the apostles and suggests practical ways to carry out the same work today. Regular attendance at studies of The Watchtower and the service and other meetings is a profitable way for the servant of God to spend the time set aside for this purpose.
21. What goal should we set for attending meetings? Why?
21 At this point someone might suggest that the pendulum has been allowed to swing too far, that now there are too many meetings which occupy far too much of the little available time. Would not more time be available for preaching if less were spent at meetings? The time might be available, yes; but without the instruction and Christian fellowship provided by gathering together, other interests would soon tend to take up that “available” time. Time spent in company with men and women whose minds and hearts are set upon serving God is to your eternal welfare. As the final end draws nearer wickedness increases and time spent in contact with the world becomes increasingly hazardous. God, foreknowing this, caused Paul to record in his letter to the Hebrews: “Let us not neglect meeting together as some do, but let us encourage one another, all the more as you can see that the great Day is coming nearer.” (Heb. 10:25, An Amer. Trans.) Some will neglect meetings, according to Paul, and they will advance one argument or another for so doing, but that is not the profitable course to follow. By setting and meeting the goal never to miss any of the meetings that the Lord provides for His people, the Christian is protected against becoming involved in the affairs of this world. He doesn’t have time for it!
22. Why is it time economy to keep to the way of good habits?
22 It is well to keep constantly in mind that the pattern which our individual lives follow, the way we use our time, is largely determined by habits we have formed, whether good or bad. Usually the course that seems most difficult, when carefully examined, proves to be the best. It is a broad way that Satan constructs to lead his followers to death. The traveler on life’s way can ill afford to waste his time on excursions away from the narrow though more difficult road. He may find some day that he has traveled too far; habits may have such a firm grip upon him that the remaining time will prove too short to extricate himself and return to the path of life. Do not allow yourself to be enticed into being a ‘lover of pleasures more than a lover of God’ like those from whom Christians are advised to turn away. (2 Tim. 3:4) “Enter not the path of the wicked, and walk not in the way of evil men; avoid it, traverse it not, shun it, and pass on.” Although effort will be required to profitably spend time in gaining instruction the reward is great. “Keep fast hold of instruction, let her not go; guard her, for she is your life.”—Prov. 4:14, 15, 13, An Amer. Trans.
23. What rich gift do we have? How do we keep firm hold on it?
23 Having studied and assembled with other Christians and thus gained knowledge is no guarantee that a person will always retain it. Paul warned, “We must give the very closest attention to the message we have heard, to keep from ever losing our hold upon it.” (Heb. 2:1, An Amer. Trans.) How disheartening it would be, after spending days, months or years in learning about God’s Word, to find that the knowledge had been taken away again by him who gave it! Much time would then have been wasted, indeed. But such a thing need not happen, and the best way to insure against it is to keep the truth bright through use. Jehovah has given a rich gift to those who gain an understanding of his purposes. “Neglect not the gift that is in thee,” said Paul, “Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.” (1 Tim. 4:14, 15) Use must be made of the gift if it is not to be neglected and if all are to perceive how the servant has profited or progressed. This harmonizes with what Jesus told the disciples in one of his parables. “To everyone who has, shall more be given and richly given; but from him who has nothing, even what he has shall be taken.”—Matt. 25:29, Moffatt.
24. What parable shows a non-user of the gift loses out?
24 By the above words, Jesus was indicating what would be done with the talent which had been entrusted to a slothful servant who refused or neglected to trade with it and bring an increase to the master to whom it belonged. The talent was forcibly removed from his possession and given to the servant who had profitably used his time to bring an increase! The net result to the servant who fails to use his gift and bears no fruit for the Kingdom is shown by Jesus’ next words: “Throw the good-for-nothing servant into the darkness outside.” (Matt. 25:30, Moffatt) Yes, the light of understanding of God’s Word grows dim and blacks out of the mind of the one who carelessly fails to trade with the talent or Kingdom interests which are placed in his hands. As far as the Lord is concerned, such a selfish person is “good-for-nothing” and not worthy of an understanding of His purposes.
25. What does bringing increase mean? Why is it due to God?
25 By bringing an increase or bearing fruit, Jesus meant helping others to understand and to become witnesses to the majesty of Jehovah, preaching the word of life. This, according to Paul, is the sacrifice that is pleasing to God. “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” (Heb. 13:15) The desire to instruct and help others which so fills one when he begins to learn of Jehovah’s gracious provisions should not be shunted aside, ignored or drowned with worldly cares. When one accepts Christ as his Redeemer and consecrates his life to do God’s will, his time is no longer his own to waste or squander. His time, yes, his very life belongs to the service of God. “Ye were bought with a price.”—1 Cor. 7:23, Am. Stan. Ver.
26. What do study and use of learning bring us? How so?
26 This continued study and use of Bible truth brings great peace of mind. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee.” (Isa. 26:3) Those lacking this bulwark find their minds besieged with all manner of cares and worries. Consider what a tremendous amount of time is wasted daily through worry alone! Worry accomplishes nothing. Jesus asked: “Which of you with all his worry can add a single hour to his life?” (Matt. 6:27, An Amer. Trans.) One cannot lengthen the remaining time for him by worrying, neither can he profitably use that which is already allotted. And how can time-consuming worry be effectively banished? Paul says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the merciful Father, and the God always ready to comfort! He comforts me in all my trouble, so that I can comfort people who are in any trouble with the comfort with which I myself am comforted by God.” (2 Cor. 1:3, 4, An Amer. Trans.) Sharing comfort, preaching gospel truths, will free distraught minds for profitable use. Paul contended that God had comforted him that he might in turn comfort others. So doing, he followed his Exemplar, Christ Jesus, whose commission was, in part, “to comfort all that mourn.”—Isa. 61:2.
27. How do worldlings view our preaching? Why wrongly so?
27 It is true that spending one’s time in gospel-preaching is deemed both strange and foolish to those who lack vision to see the signs of the times. In a sense, it is strange or unusual to go about telling people that destruction awaits them if they continue in their heedless course; and it will be a strange or unusual thing when Jehovah brings about that destruction, for many centuries have passed since his power has thus been made manifest to men. But the fact that it is strange does not alter the truth. Rather, it serves to confirm it, for Isaiah, a prophet of Jehovah, recorded: “For Jehovah will rise up as in mount Perazim, he will be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon; that he may do his work, his strange work, and bring to pass his act, his strange act. Now therefore be ye not scoffers, lest your bonds be made strong; for a decree of destruction have I heard from the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, upon the whole earth.” (Isa. 28:21, 22, A.S.V.) So, this is a case where the strange thing, the foolish thing, is the profitable thing. So profitable that it leads to life. What greater profit can there be than that? “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”—1 Cor. 1:21.
28. Should scoffing make us curtail preaching? What does Job show?
28 What, then, if the wise men of this world do scoff and ridicule? That is no cause to fear them and hold them in awe to the point of failing to preach and thus fall short of using time to greatest profit. “The foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Cor. 1:25) The preacher may be certain he will be ridiculed. Such opposition and scorn may even come from his own family. But should that deter one from going out and to the doors of his neighbors to bring them kindly words of warning? Worse affliction than that which visited God’s servant Job could hardly be expected, yet that tormented witness of Jehovah said: “Did I fear a great multitude, or did the contempt of families terrify me, that I kept silence, and went not out of the door?” (Job 31:34) His course in maintaining integrity to God was a profitable one. Not only did the Lord give Job ‘twice as much as he had before’ and ‘bless the latter end of Job more than the beginning’ (Job 42:10, 12), but he increased Job’s remaining time upon the earth then. And Job is assured of everlasting life upon the earth as one of the “princes in all the earth”.—Ps. 45:16.
29. Which fear is profitable as to time? How did Noah show it?
29 Fear is a weapon used by the adversary to paralyze the activities of men, to ensnare them to do his will. “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.” (Prov. 29:25) The spirit of fear has settled upon this dying old world, and if one fled from all the things the world fears and flees from he would certainly have time for nothing else, profitable or otherwise. But God has not given his people the spirit of fear. (2 Tim. 1:7) The wicked consume their time fleeing when no one is pursuing (Prov. 28:1), but the Christian, bold as a lion, stands fast in the knowledge of the supremacy of his God and devotes his time to profitable pursuits. Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18), leaving the mind free to think clearly and direct the body in profitable works of praise. One who is interested in having more time to devote to profitable works casts aside worldly cares and fears God alone. “The fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.” (Prov. 10:27) It was godly fear that moved Noah to build the ark to the saving of his house. Had he allowed fear of man to interrupt his work, even for a short while, in all probability the ark would not have been completed in time to serve its intended purpose. In such a case, all of the time and effort Noah had put into the incomplete structure would have been entirely wasted. Instead of having many long years following the flood for continued profitable service of the Creator, he and his loved ones would have perished with the rest of the disobedient. Rather than halt or interrupt your work for fear, “resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”—Jas. 4:7.
30. Why is regularity in preaching essential as respects time?
30 Regularity in the preaching work is also essential. Not only is the mind thus occupied too busy for the Devil to tempt and trip up, but constant activity improves the efficiency of the preacher so that more can be accomplished in the available time. When one stops, he loses the swing of godly service, he becomes rusty in his use of the sword of the spirit and new bad habits crowd in and take the place of former good ones. Hence, not only is the time lost that is not spent in praising God, but time is also consumed in regaining past efficiency. The remaining time is too short to permit such losses; and there is the ever-present danger of being completely swallowed up in the old world. Now is the time to be awake and active and consistent in God’s service.
31. How do we act like sensible men in these evil times?
31 This need for wakefulness was emphasized by Paul, who, after rebuking some in the congregation at Ephesus for falling back into the practice of corruption, said, “‘Wake up, sleeper! Rise from the dead, and Christ will dawn upon you!’ Be very careful, then, about the way you live. Do not act thoughtlessly, but like sensible men, make the most of your opportunity, for these are evil times.” (Eph. 5:14-16, An Amer. Trans.) ‘Buy out for yourselves the opportunity.’ (Rotherham) These words of admonition were offered by Paul to direct the future course of Christians. As was true with those Ephesians, so with us today; what has been done or what we have failed to do in the past cannot be changed. That time is gone, it cannot be used again. But in the present and in the future are yet many opportunities awaiting the one who would serve God. These opportunities may present themselves in a variety of ways. But, however they come, sensible men will make the most of them, buying them up and putting them to good use so that they will not be wasted.
32. How do we gain more opportunities? Why is it worth the cost?
32 It is only reasonable that the one who spends a greater amount of time serving God will be able to buy out or make use of more of these precious opportunities. No matter how high the cost might be in relinquished wealth and good standing with this world, these opportunities to serve God and Christ will be well worth it and more. Christ spoke a parable to his apostles, saying: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.” (Matt. 13:44) Nothing we now might own or hope to obtain in the future could be compared in value to the kingdom of God and the blessings it will bring to those who live in it. Even though one might give his life for the Kingdom it would be profitable “for whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matt. 16:25) Christ can and will resurrect those from death who faithfully devote their time to his service.—John 5:28, 29.