By Johnnie Godwin
Contributing Columnist, B&R
“Your daddy is soooo slow!” said my mother from my growing-up days till the close of their retirement days. More recently, one of my sons said about the hurried nature of life today, “Jesus was slow!” I didn’t take exception to Mother’s statement because Dad was slow unless he got in a hurry. But I put a caveat on and a sermonette to my son’s statement about Jesus being slow.
If you don’t know what I’m about to tell you about timely living, then you really need this bit of visiting we’ll do. The nutshell of this piece is that God in Christ was never slow or hurried; and he designed us for timely living.
A word about fast, slow, timely. Dad was a truck driver. When I was a boy, he explained to me that his truck had 16 gears and that each gear had its time and place for use. The lowest gear he called “Ole Granny,” and it was the slowest and had the most power. The highest gear was the fastest, which was sometimes called on for maximum speed but not necessarily optimum gas mileage or power. Dad lived life like he drove a truck: in a timely way to suit himself and not others. But he was usually early or on time and not late. Mother? Well, she told me, “I do everything fast. I don’t why. I just do.” She lived life being on time too.
Jesus was never slow; He was always on time: God’s time. Think through Jesus’ birth, life, ministry and the words fast, slow, timely. Personally, I’ve studied that matter over quite a few years. Jesus looked to the Father for His will and His time table for everything. Jesus was born in the fullness of time — not earlier or later but when time was brim-full (Galatians 4:4). Jesus announced with personal awareness at age 12 that He was preparing to be about His Father’s business (Luke 2:49). At about age 30, he began about three years of focused ministry that unfolded in a timely way. For one example, Jesus waited four days interrupted with healings and travel to get to dead Lazarus. Yet, Jesus knew exactly what He was doing in His timely living. Jesus’ ministry climaxed at the cross and Easter and ascension. Jesus lived with timeliness!
A word about our hurried society. We live in a multitasking world that has little or no patience. For many, there seems to be no awareness of timely living and doing things “decently and in order” (I Corinthians 14:40). Texting while driving has killed and injured so many people that even the major cell-phone providers have banded together for an “It can wait” campaign. Youth aren’t the only ones in the multitasking camp. Others are guilty too. More than ever, we need to memorize and live by Ecclesiastes 3:1: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”
Nothing of timely living calls for the spastic, erratic, impatient, multitasking lifestyle of our society today. All of life, however, does call for timely living. That means living life doing God’s will at exactly the right time and in the right way. Jesus lived the model life for this kind of living. To have the mind of Christ Jesus in us calls for timely living (Philippians 2:5).
No dire death or injury statistics will put the mind of Christ in us for timely living. No research facts or studies about multitasking reducing efficiency by 20 percent will help. No research facts that reveal the mind can actually only focus on only one thing in each nanosecond will make a difference. What will make a difference then? It’ll take a conversion to God’s design for timely living for Him and for ourselves — for all of life.
What the Bible says about timeliness. Genesis 1:1 simply introduces time to us with “In the beginning …” (Genesis 1:1). Eternity has always been, is, and always will be. But God created time as an island within eternity: a beginning, a duration, and an ending that will come. God’s unfolding drama of redemption is mapped out from Genesis to Revelation. But within time, God has called us to timely living.
The summary of timely living shows up in two Greek words that are also in English unabridged dictionaries: namely, chronos and kairos. Chronos just refers to time in general and ongoing time. Kairos refers to appointed time, opportune time, seizing the moment time. About half the New Testament references to time in the original Greek use the word for timeliness: appointed time or decision-making time. Jesus is quoted with this word in John 7:6 when He said, “My time is not yet come, but your time is always ready.” Jesus was on God the Father’s time table, but all mankind’s decision-making time is now. Kairos is the word used in “Redeem the time” (Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5). It is “seize-the-day time.” Now is the time for salvation (see II Corinthians 6:2). However short or long our lives might be, God created us for this kind of timely living that lives on timelessly in His eternal life for us.
What about you and timely living? Timeliness takes into account doing things decently and orderly. It also considers times when maximum speed and action are critical. But timeliness refers to optimum time: doing the right things at the right times and in the right way — which is God’s time table for you.
I’m not primarily concerned about making a tirade against our fragmented, dysfunctional, preoccupied, spastic society. My deepest concern is whether you are planning and living your life without knowing God in Christ as Lord and Savior and with eternal life. I’m convinced many are more anxious about possibly outliving their money than living outside God’s will and His timeliness. Your life is a vapor. Tomorrow is uncertain. A commitment to timely living within God’s will means never having to worry whether tomorrow comes or not (see James 4:13-17). I call you to fulfill God’s design for timely living.
— Copyright 2014 by Johnnie C. Godwin. Write the author: firstname.lastname@example.org.