One day, a worker came into his boss’s office to complain, “Hey boss, this month you forgot to pay me half of my wages! I refuse to work until you give me my pay-check!” His boss, nonchalant by the sudden comment of his employee, looked at him smiling and said, “Well look, Mark, last month we paid you double by mistake. Why didn’t you complain then?” And Mark simply replied, “Well, you know, I can always let one mistake go by. But when you guys mess it up twice in a row? That’s unforgivable!”
Without a doubt, money is valuable in this world. Why? Because you can only have so much of it. If everyone had an unlimited amount money, it would have no value at all. If rubies were like gravel, no one would pay $3,000 for a ruby necklace. But there’s something even more valuable than gold, silver, and gems. I’m referring to the use of your time.
J.R.R. Tolkien once wrote a famous riddle in the Hobbit:
“This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, and flowers,
Gnaws iron, bites steel.
Grinds hard stones to meal
Slays king, ruins town,
and beats high mountain down.”
Do you know what the answer is? Or do you need more time to figure it out?
Time is one thing that we’re all familiar with, but few of us know how to define it. It’s tough to realize how valuable time really is even though it’s the most precious thing we have. On your first birthday you were given a certain amount of time to use as you will, but no one knows how much. The only thing that is certain is that one day it will all run out. So how are you going to treat your time? When someone gives you a fragile golden cup do you start to play baseball with it? Or do you hide it under the couch? Or do you use it to drink apple juice?
They say that time is the best teacher. That may be true, but it’s also true that unfortunately he kills all his students. Francesco Petarca, a famous Italian writer from the middle Ages, wrote about this at the end of his life: “I knew that time was precious, but I didn’t know that it was so precious…I didn’t know this when I had the time to use it better. I didn’t give time its value, because I had other things to do. I spent time with my friends, complained about my body pains, the tiredness I sometimes felt and the bills I had to pay. Time was the last thing on my list, but now I realize that I should have been first! Because you can stop being tired when you rest and money can be won back again, but time once it goes by never returns.”
Yes, time is important. But in saying this, I don’t want you to be sad. Don’t you remember what we said at the beginning? Time is a gift! And gifts are meant to be used. You don’t take a new i-Pod and leave it there to rot. The person who gave it to you wants you to use it, but use it well. Using your time well doesn’t mean never having fun. Just look at Christ in the Gospel. Christ was the only one who ever knew exactly when he was going to die, and yet that didn’t stop him from going to a wedding in Cana. He even brought his Mom and his friends with him!
One famous Latin philosopher once wrote: “Omnia aliena sunt, tempus tantum nostrum est.” “Nothing belongs to us, only time is our own.” The only one in charge of the time that you use is yourself. That’s why he who kills time isn’t a murderer. He’s suicidal. When someone gives you $50 for your birthday, you’re the one who decides what to use it for. You could use it to go out to eat at T.G.I. Fridays or you could spend it on makeup or for a cell phone. Or maybe you want to use it for the missionaries in Brazil in Mexico. Or maybe you want to hide it under the couch or throw it directly into the trash can. It’s all up to you. I think we’ve all wasted money before. I once spent $20 on a gumball machine at Pizza Hut trying to win a prize that cost 15 cents.
So that’s what we do with our money. But what about time?
The best way to use your time is to waste it on someone else. That’s right; invert it doing good for others. Use it to help your mom prepare dinner. Use it to help your dad cut the grass. Above all, use it to do what God wants you to do. One man once did a statistic survey on the time that a sixty-year old man has spent doing different things in his life. He came to the following conclusion: This sixty-year old has spent 25 years working, 20 sleeping, 2 eating, 1 getting dressed, nine months showering, 7 shaving, 2 brushing his teeth, etc., etc. And how much time do you think he’s spent for God? In just one year your heart beats 36,792,000 times. And of these millions, how many were for God? Remember what Christ says in the Gospel, “He who loses his life for my sake, will keep it for eternal life.”
So how are you going to have a good time? Just do what God is asking you to do. If you are in class, give your best in class. If you’re at home, help your children or your parents out in the house. If you’re playing sports, play as hard as you can. Do what you’re supposed to be doing in every moment and in the end you won’t regret it. When the last second of your time on this earth finally ticks, you’ll wake up to a life of eternal happiness with Him who gave you that time in the first place.
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