Life in the present world is inseparably bound up with time. Time is part of God’s created order (Gen 1:14; Heb 1:2). By contrast God, being the eternal one and the creator of all things, is not limited in any way by time. This means that his view of time is different from that of human beings (Isa 57:15; 1 Tim 1:17; 6:16; 2 Peter 3:8; see ETERNITY). Nevertheless, God is able to use time to bring his purposes to fulfilment (Gal 4:4), and he gives it to the people of his creation to use also (Eccles 5:18; 8:15).

Men and women are therefore responsible to God for the way they use their time (1 Peter 1:15-17). (Concerning systems for reckoning time see DAY; MONTH.) As a wise, powerful and loving Creator, God sees that everything happens at the right time to maintain the world for the benefit of his creatures (Deut 11:14; 2 Kings 4:16; Eccles 3:11; Acts 14:17). He controls history, often announcing in advance the precise time for his actions (Exod 9:18; Isa 37:33- 38; Acts 17:26). (Concerning the time element in the writings of the prophets see PROPHECY.) Jesus’ birth, ministry, death and resurrection all took place at the time God had appointed (Gal 4:4; Mark 1:15; John 8:20; 12:23,27; 17:1). Christ’s return will also occur when God’s time has come (Mark 13:32; Acts 1:7; Rev 14:15; see DAY OF THE LORD).

Because history is moving constantly towards its climax, Christians must use their time wisely (Ps 90:12; Col 4:5). They should see time not merely as a period measured by a clock or a calendar, but as an opportunity given them to use. This does not mean that they have to create unnecessary pressure by squeezing as much as they can into their time, but that they should live and behave as befits God’s people (Eph 5:15-17; 1 Peter 4:1-3).

The prospect of Christ’s return is an incentive not to hectic activity but to more Christlike conduct (Rom 13:11-14; 1 John 2:18,28). God wants people to use their time in worthwhile work, but his gift of the Sabbath shows that he also wants them to have time for rest (Exod 23:12; cf. Gen 2:2-3). People should not waste their time through laziness or worthless activities (Prov 10:4-5; 12:11; 18:9; 2 Thess 3:11-12; 1 Tim 5:13), but neither should they spend their time in constant activity that leaves no time for proper relaxation (Neh 13:15-21; Eccles 2:21-23; Amos 8:5; cf. Mark 6:30-31; Luke 10:40-42; see WORK). In their concern for time, people should not try to calculate when present life will end. Rather they should use the opportunity of the present life to accept God’s salvation and grow in Christian character (Acts 1:6-8; 2 Cor 6:1-2; Heb 3:13; 4:7; 5:12-14; 10:25; cf. Luke 12:16-20; James 4:13-16).

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