By Mason Harris
(Editor’s Note: Brother Harris wrote a previous, though independent, article on this same subject which you may want to refer to in the May 10th issue.)
In the parable of the great supper, all who were invited began to make excuse. One asked to be excused on the basis that he needed to see a new piece of ground; another needed to test a yoke of oxen; and a third had married a wife. It seems that all these people were bothered by the same problem. Each was saying in his own way, “I do not have time to attend the supper for I have something else to do.”
It may be that none of them wanted to attend the feast and simply allowed his schedule to become so filled that he would not have time. Or, it may be that they would have enjoyed going to the feast, but did not know how to manage the use of their time where they could do everything they needed or wanted to do.
People have not changed much, if any, over the past two thousand years. Excuses still sound much the same. One of the most common excuses heard today is, “I don’t have time.” I suspect that most of the time this is offered because the person has no desire to do the thing under consideration. However, there may be instances where some would really like to do something, but in all sincerity cannot find the time. This happens only because they do not know how to manage the use of their time. Someone has said, “A century can be crowded into fifty years by doubling the efficiency by which time. is spent. “
In order to avoid a collision of duties with regard to time, we need to plan our activities. This will allow us rightly to proportion between the various duties of life so that none is left out or fails to get its proper place. So, as we make our plans, we need to be able to decide what is most important and how our various duties relate to each other in importance. Jesus expressed it this way: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Mt. 6:33)
On another occasion, Jesus said to someone, “Follow me.” The man said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Jesus showed the importance of putting first things first when he said, “Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.” Another said, “Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.” Jesus said in reply to this man, “No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Lk. 9: 5962)
In every well-planned life there is time for religious activity such as family devotion, Bible study, church assemblies, helping others, etc. The person who says his work does not allow time to attend to spiritual matters is not leading a well-balanced life. Remember that it is written in Ecclesiastes. “To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven.” (3:1)
Paul said to the Ephesians, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”(Eph. 5: 15-16). The thought here is with regard to the proper use of one’s time. We should not walk without thought of where we are going, but with some fixed principles of action. Someone has said:
“This is the beginning of a new day.
God has given me this day to use, as I will.
I can waste it, or use it for good.
But what I do today is important
Because I am exchanging a day of my life for it!
When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever,
Leaving in its place something that I have traded for it.
I want it to be gain, and not loss, Good and not evil; success and not failure,
In order that I shall not regret the price that I have paid for it.”
Someone may ask, “How does one redeem the time?” One thing is sure: We cannot redeem it by regaining any portion of the past. The past is irrecoverably gone. So it would be only a further waste of time to spend hours in regret for wasted moments in the past. Furthermore, you cannot borrow time from another. You cannot hoard it up as you can money. You cannot even work exceptionally hard and earn more time. In the continua life, when we awake each morning, our purse is filled with twenty-four hours of the unmanufactured tissue of our life. If we would have health, pleasure, money, contentment, respect, and if we would work toward the development of our immortal soul, this is the time for us to use.
We redeem the time by “buying up opportunities,” or by making the most of them. Instead of letting the hours of our life be spent in idleness, excessive devotion to business, vanity, and such like, we are to lay hold on opportunities for doing good. If we would make the most of our time, we need to plan our activities so there will be no collision of duties. But planning is of no value if we fail to work the plan. And one of the greatest obstacles to work is procrastination, the act of putting off until another day the things we intend to do.
Procrastination entices us to wait . . . it tells us that tomorrow the work will be easier or more effective. At first it may be just a matter of days that we intend to wait … then weeks and months . . . until finally we lose interest and abandon our plans. An old proverb says, “Do not put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” In the book of Ecclesiastes it is expressed this way: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” He who waits about the salvation of his soul and the souls of others may at last join the ancient Jews and cry, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.”
TRUTH MAGAZINE XVII: 41, pp. 2-3
August 23, 1973