32546 Use it well
But this I say, dear readers old and young, the time is short: it remained, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passed away"
—I Cor. 7:29-31
In this chapter the apostle is discoursing concerning marriage. The mind of God upon this subject seems to be. That in ordinary time’s marriage is honourable in all, provided it is in the Lord. There are some who seem to imagine that there is peculiar holiness about an unmarried life; but this seems quite contrary to the Word of God. In the sinless world before man fell, God said: "It is not good for man to be alone:" and the closest walker with God in Old Testament times was a married man: "Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters."
That in a time of distress and trouble to the Church it is better not to marry: "I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress." (Verse 26.) When the ark of God is in danger, as at present in our Churches, it seems the mind of the Spirit that all who can, should keep themselves as much as possible disentangled from earthly engagements. When the wife of Phinehas heard that the ark of God was taken, she travailed in birth, and died, calling her child Ichabod.
The glory is departed. So, brethren, it does not become those who love Zion to be marrying and giving in marriage when the ark of God is in danger. 3. That even in such times it is lawful to marry: "But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned." (Verse 28.) I doubt not, brethren, the days are near when they shall say: "Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bear, and the brest that never gave." Still, if any will venture to meet these times, and if you think the faith of two may bear you up better than the faith of one, "I spare you." I would lay no snare upon you. You have not sinned.
Having opened up this subject, the apostle proceeds with this affecting statement, suitable to all, married or unmarried: "But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remained that both they that have wives be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passed away." In these words there is—. A statement made: "The time is short;" and again: "The fashion of this world passed away." The time to be spent in this world is very short; it is but an inch of time—a short half-hour.
In a very little, it will be all over; and all that is here is changing—the very hills are crumbling down—the loveliest face is withering away—the finest garments rot and decay: "The fashion of this world passed away." A lesson drawn from this: Believers should sit loose to everything here. Believers should look on everything in the light of eternity. Value nothing any more than you will do then. Sit loose to the objects, griefs, joys, occupations of this world; for you must soon change them for eternal realities.
The time a believer has to live in this world is very short. (1) The whole lifetime is very short. From the cradle to the grave is but a short journey: "The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away." The halves of men die before the age of sixty. Even when men lived for many hundred years, it was but a short life—a moment, compared to eternity. Methuselah lived nine hundred and sixty-nine years they say, and he died. Men are short-lived, like the grass. "All flesh is as grass," and the rich and beautiful are like the flower of the field—a little fairer and more delicate. "The grass withered, the flower faded; because the Spirit of the Lord blows upon it." (Isa. 40:7.)
Learn your folly in having lost the past. Although life be very short, it is all saving time. This is the reason for which God has given it to us. The long-suffering of God is intended for our salvation. God gives men time to hear the Gospel—to pray—to get saving conversion. But unconverted souls have wasted all the past. Think how much time you have lost in idleness. How many golden opportunities for prayer, and hearing the Word, and meditation, have you lost! How much time have you spent uselessly in your bed, or in idle talk, or in loitering about your doors! If you saw how short your time is, and how death and hell are pursuing you, you would have fled to Christ; but you have not.
Think how much you have spent in sin, at the tavern, or in vain company, or in dances, or in night walking, or in sins of which it is a shame even to speak. God gave you time for saving your soul, and you have spent it in ruining your soul. God gave you time to flee to Christ; and you have spent it in fleeing toward hell. Think how much time you have spent in business, without one thought for eternity. Think how you have lost your best time. Youth is your best time of being saved. Many of you have lost it ' Time of awakening, Sabbaths, holy time, years of Sabbaths have now gone over many of you. "The harvest is past, the summer is ended; and we are not saved."
Consider what value they put on time who are now in hell. Once, brethren, they cared as little for it as you once, they could see their years pass away without caring once, they could let their Sabbaths slip away; but now they see their folly. What would they now give, brethren, for such an opportunity as you have this day? What would they give for another year of grace for another week for another day? It is probable that some of your friends or companions, now in hell, are wishing they could come back to tell you how precious is an inch of saving time!
It has come to the eleventh hour with some—your unconverted head is grey—your feet are tottering. If you saw a man condemned to die, lying in chains, who had but three hours to live; if you saw that man playing at dice, or singing wanton songs, would you not be shocked? You would say he was a hardened wretch.
Ah, are there none among you the same? You are condemned already—your days are numbered—you are hanging by a thread over the mouth of hell; and yet you are cutting and slashing at the hand that holds you. In a little moment, brethren, it will be all over. Throughout the never-ending ages of eternity you will remember the few days we spent together. Ah, the remembrance will add fuel to the flame, and be a never- dying worm in your poor soul.