By Heather Riggleman, Crosswalk.com
Human beings are creatures of “time,” and we’re preoccupied with that theme. Maybe even obsessed.
We spend money on wall calendars and check off days. Some obsess for hours about which planner to buy...Erin Condren, The Start Planner, or my personal favorite, Plum Paper. Many of us buy the latest specialized watches to keep track of time, fitness goals, hours of sleep or whether we got paid to work.
We count the time we’ve been married, the months of our newborns’ lives, and we muse “How much time do I have left?”
And as we walk into any new decade, our obsession continues. Scroll through Facebook or Instagram when a new decade hits, and you’ll see posts of friends commenting about the last decade, complete with pictures. While entering the 2020s, new goals, dreams, and plans are being shouted from the rooftops—or at least Facebook.
But what if we are mistaken about the concept of time, or how we assign importance to calendars?
The Bible counsels that we need to place our focus on that which is eternal as opposed to the fleeting pleasures of this passing world.
What Does the Bible Say about Time?
An online search through the New Living Translation Bible finds 966 results about the concept of time. Some discuss what someone did, as in Genesis 4:3 “When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord.”
Others address the time we’ve been given, as in Ephesians 5:15-17: “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.”
The New Testament includes two main concepts of time represented by two Greek words: chronos (χρόνος) and kairos (καιρός). Chronos is about sequential time as we often think of it—clocks, calendars, and weekend plans. It’s where we get words like chronological.
Kairos is about the right season or occasion. “Kairos time” is about a long-awaited hope coming to fruition. It refers to our times of prayer and worship, walking through one season of life into another, or waiting on God. Some Greek dictionaries define it as “appointed” time, for example, Jesus came into the world on kairos time—precisely the right time.
Psalm 90 gives us the best biblical perspective of time. It compares how man and God view time and life. Moses prays, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” God set eternity in our hearts knowing that will we have to give an account of our lives. C. S. Lewis understood this: “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.”
There’s no doubt that smaller, less important things can pull us in different directions. It’s easy to forget the time we’ve been given as it gets swallowed up by the mundane. Or by our relentless tracking and marking off of days, years, and decades. Our endeavors that have eternal value can sometimes get pushed aside.
God Isn’t Defined by Decades
One important thing we must keep in mind as we ask what the Bible says about the new decade is that time provides the historical framework in which things happen, but time has no innate ability itself. God has been working with time since the beginning of creation. In fact, he is the originator of time. We can catch a glimpse of how God views time, or any new decade, in 2 Peter 3:8-9:
But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/monkeybusinessimages
How Does God Invite Us to Embrace Each New Decade?
It is important to recognize the brevity of life so that we don’t squander the time we’ve been given.
Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” God wants us to live with purpose, recognizing that the clock is counting down to the moment we step through death’s portal and enter our eternal state. At that moment, the books are closed, and we will begin to reap the consequences of our choices on earth (Hebrews 9:27; Romans 14:10; Luke 16:19-31).
To avoid losing focus, we can prioritize by asking: What will the next decade look like if I focus on Christ? How can I make him a priority? What things can I do in this decade that will make an impact on eternity compared to the last 10 years?
Therefore, the next decade should be lived wisely. Knowing that the harvest is great and the workers are few (Luke 10:2) and that time is rapidly dwindling should help us make better use of our time to witness, both through our words and our example. We are to spend time loving others in deed and in truth.
God wants us to walk into any new decade with him in our hearts. He reminds us in James 4:14, we are but a mist: “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.”
This illustrates how fleeting our days are as we journey into the next decade. He wants us to focus on ‘kairos’ time.
Most importantly, we need to spend daily time with God. He is the One who equips us to carry out the tasks he has given us. It is he who directs our days, weeks, years, and decades.
So, the best way to receive each new decade that God designs is this: ask for his wisdom daily in how to use the time you’re given. Then proceed in confidence, sensitive to his course corrections and open to God-ordained interruptions along the way.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Brooke Lark
Heather Riggleman is an award-winning journalist and a regular contributor for Crosswalk. She calls Nebraska home with her three kids and a husband of 22 years. She believes Jazzercise, Jesus, and tacos can fix anything and not necessarily in that order! She is author of I Call Him By Name Bible Study, the Bold Truths Prayer Journal, Mama Needs a Time Out, and a contributor to several books. You can find her at www.heatherriggleman.com or on Facebook.