Thursday, February 9, 2017

Time: Greatest Compliment in the World

Did you know time isn’t constant? Yes, scientists tell us our 24-hours a day, seven-day week never fluctuates and can give empirical evidence. But we all know time isn’t constant. I can prove it.

Think about the last time you took a long vacation that you really enjoyed. Didn’t the time pass quickly? It probably seemed like just a couple of days. Compare that with the same duration of time, except you were on a strict diet. No good food, no fun. How fast did that time pass? It seemed to crawl, right? A one-week diet can seem like a month.

Sometimes time seems to pass with lightning
speed, other times it slows to a crawl.
Compare spending several hours with a good friend you haven’t seen in months, with having to spend time with someone you don’t like. With one you think, “Where did the time go?” With the other, even a few minutes feel like hours, right?

Have you ever had a day at work when you remarked, “Man, this day has flown by!” and one of your coworkers responded, “That’s for sure!” The next day came, and it seemed the hands on the office clock were stuck in mud. You and the same colleague agreed, “Wow, I thought this day would never end!” See, proof that time isn’t constant.

So much for the time-space continuum. But consider an observation I heard a while back: “Time is the greatest compliment in the world.”

I think the speaker was right. If you buy someone a gift, it costs you something. But money is like what they used to say of Doritos chips in the old commercial – you can make more. Time, however, once spent, is gone. It can’t be recaptured. Spending time with someone, especially when you have other options, is a great compliment. It’s essentially saying, “I’m here to give you a portion of time – part of my life – that I’ll never have again.”

We’re busier than ever. Everyone seems in a hurry, even if we’re not always sure why. This makes time, which can’t be saved or set aside for a rainy day, a precious commodity. Stopping whatever you’re in the middle of so you can give someone else a few minutes (or more) of your attention says a lot about them – and you. Philippians 2:3-4 says, “…in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” It’s like saying, “My time is your time. You’re most important right now.”

Writing to followers of Christ in the city of Thessalonica, the apostle Paul expressed it this way: “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us” (1 Thessalonians 2:8).

In an age when people are so busy with their smartphones they can’t be bothered to look up and talk with each other, even sitting in a restaurant, standing in a mall, or participating in a meeting, to consciously and intentionally devote time to someone else says a lot. It’s a non-verbal way of communicating, “You’re significant. You’re deserving of my time.”

Taking this one step further, as followers of Christ we know God has all the time in the world – and more. And it’s clear He desires to spend some of it with us. The last thing Jesus said before His ascension to heaven was, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). To me, that’s like the Lord saying to us, “My time is your time.”

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