When you think about all the things in our lives we possess, which one is the most valuable? I have some collectables that some might consider of worth. We own a car and have a house. Many people have investments. But all of these things pale in comparison to the one thing each of us have that is priceless. That asset is time.
In the Book of Psalms, Moses gives us this words of wisdom: “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. (90:12 ESV)” I think for many of us, time is the one asset that we never have enough of but the one thing we often waste.
Moses’ words to us are a sober reminder of our frailty and transience compared to the eternal God who created and sustains all things. The psalm begins with a declaration that God has always been and will always be: “from everlasting to everlasting You are God.” Although we try to turn back the clock through cosmetics and surgeries, in the end, we will turn back to dust, with no more permanence than the grass which comes up one day and withers away the next. Compared to God, we are a vapour and to Him, a thousand years is like the passing of a day.
But it’s not just that compared to God we are like vapour; when our sins are set before God, His holiness overwhelms us. It’s only by His mercy and loving-kindness that we are not all wiped out. According to Psalm 139, He is everywhere. There is nothing we can hide from Him. We can’t hide our sin from Him. In a sense, our brief lives are open books written in simple language to the Lord. He sees and knows all.
The only way we can avoid despair is take to heart verse 12 and turn to the Lord, asking Him to teach us to number our days. This has nothing to do with asking how long we will live. This isn’t about figuring out the average life span of a person or trying to extend our lives, rather it is asking the Lord to teach us to make our days worthwhile.
We need His help to consider every day as a precious gift: a moment in our short number of years in which the Lord has granted us the grace to live. We need to learn not to squander these moments, but to invest them with meaning and purpose.
Unfortunately, for many of us, our days are filled with meaningless toil or play. There’s nothing wrong with work, or with entertainment, but do we have a sense of purpose? Have we considered what purpose the Lord might have for us, and how we might use the time He has given us to that end?
As I have gotten older, I have noticed that my body is slowing down and my health is harder to maintain. This verse reminds me that I need to heed the instruction from the bible on the use of my time. Moses says we should work at obtaining a “heart of wisdom.”
When I look at how the world lives, I realize that much of what happens is vanity. People are storing up treasures on earth, seeking pleasures and rewards that will wither and fade with the grass. But according to the Word of God, we need the wisdom of God that turns our hearts to desire the eternal, that which is truly good, holy, and precious.
I believe with the help of the Lord, we can see beyond the here and now, and consider our lives in light of the future hope we have in Christ. This will give us wisdom in our thoughts, our words, and our actions.
So my hope for all of us is that we would learn to count our days, and consider with godly wisdom how we invest our time here. One day this will all be gone, and only that which is of eternal value will last. I pray that our lives will be invested in the eternal, and not in that which perishes like the grass.