Something New Under the Sun: Ancient Wisdom for Contemporary Living - 23. EACH PRECIOUS MOMENT

23. Each Precious Moment


There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.

Ecclesiastes 3:1


Missionary friends in Nigeria have told me that Africans and Americans hold radically different views of time. For Westerners, time is to be managed, obeyed, and strictly observed. We spend large amounts of time planning for the future. We set deadlines and evalu­ate our performance by our ability to meet those dead­lines. We start every meeting with an agenda and rarely exceed the allotted time limit.

The Nigerian generally approaches the concept of time differently. Relationships take precedence over stick­ing to time limits. Therefore, if a visitor drops in, the Nigerian host stops whatever he is doing to entertain his company for an appropriate amount of time, according to the relationship. If you live in Nigeria and the visitor decides to stay with you, you do not ask him or her how long the visit will last; that will reveal itself when it is im­portant. To ask is considered rude. If spending time with this unannounced visitor makes you late for another en­gagement, that is OK. People generally accept that going late to any public function is normal-but one is not to leave early, which is a sign of rudeness. Meetings last until the work is done-with or without an agenda. The more important an item is, the longer there has to be discus­sion, even if there is already consensus. If there is no consensus, the group will continue to discuss the issue.

Another striking difference with respect to time deals with the concept of the future. Nigerian Christians speak in a way that frequently calls to mind the truth that God is in control of the number of our days. They frequently thank God for “seeing yet another day.” There is also fre­quent reference to Christ’s second coming. For example, a church announcement might sound like this: “Next Sunday evening, at 5 P.M. if the Lord tarries, the Couples’ Fellowship will have a special program. All are expected to be in attendance.” While those words can become rou­tine, they also embody a biblical worldview-living with a sense of anticipation for the return of our Lord.

For all of us, time is flying. Sometimes we are so in­tensely looking to the future that the present rushes past unnoticed. Our challenge is to count each day as pre­cious-knowing that what we do counts for eternity.


Almighty God, help me not to fritter away my days but to use each moment for the greatest possible good. Amen.



* How many hours have you wasted in the last week?


* Suppose that tomorrow you were given five extra hours. How would you use them for the greatest possi­ble good?



Read Psalm 31:15; Acts 1:7; and Romans 12:9-12.


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