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September 2, 2017

Time is a stream in which we all swim. Every part of God’s creation moves down the river of time as we go through the stages of life. Our spirits come from heaven and enter this mortal body we now have. We live each day experiencing all sorts of things as we grow up. Finally, our particular stream in the river of time comes to an end. We are then brought before the Living Judge who weighs our spirit core in the balance to see if we have more spirit than ‘self’ in us. (Proverbs 16:2, AMP) We mark time by clocks, seasons and calendars but God marks time differently. I hope to shed some light on how important it is to understand this difference.

As humans we slavishly mark time with clocks and calendars. With each second, minute, hour, day, week, month, year, and decade life changes all around us. Sometimes our lives can change in a heartbeat with tragedy or surprise. Most often, however, life continues steadily, looking like it will always be the same but it never is. Change is a constant in our world with the incessant march of time. The change that most affects us is the growth of spirit or ‘self’ within each of us. The time we are granted on earth allows us to feed and nurture either one or the other. Time also limits how far each will grow. By giving us limited time for this human existence God has actually put healthy boundaries around how far our ‘self’ nature would be allowed to develop. Could you imagine how evil people would become if physical death did not put an end to their ‘self’ nature with its inherent treachery?

We are created to live in time and cannot escape its ever present march forward. In this movement of time God bids us to wait on Him. It is in the place of waiting for God that time reveals the issue of ‘self’ inside of us. ‘Self’ wants to grow, to move, to expand but God wants it to die. God bids us to stand with Him in peace but ‘self’ is a raging torrent that must keep moving. ‘Self’, like a noxious weed, knows that time is the only thing it has and it tries to use that time to bring forth the fruit of more ‘self’. God, however, lives outside of time and wants us to wait on Him so ‘self’ can be destroyed. God calls us to hold still in this march forward and in so doing time works to expose, and kill, our impatient ‘self’ nature.

Time has a unique way of wrestling ‘self’ out of hiding and into the light. By bidding us to wait on Him, God, in His infinite patience, needles and prods the impatient ‘self’ nature out into the open. Once exposed God holds a steady spotlight on ‘self’ until it’s ugliness can been seen and hopefully repented of. God does this not by moving us but by holding us still in one place, providing for life’s necessities but not comfort. This is the essence of the wilderness. The lack of comfort causes frustration and anger at God but it is really ‘self’ crying out in pain as it is starved of nutrients. After all, ‘self’ lives only for itself and God is trying to kill it. The term used for this process is called patient endurance. Our forefathers in faith told us about this in the Bible. There once was a time when believers actually understood that it was necessary for our growth and maturity. Not so much today.

Besides being a perfect foil for ‘self’ time has one other aspect that we learned about as we journeyed with God in the wilderness. We discovered that God sees time far differently than we do. Instead of looking to a clock or calendar for progress God looks to our growth in spiritual maturity. God does this because He sees time for what it is and not what it isn’t. Mankind often looks to time, erroneously, as something to be consumed or bartered. You may have heard the term ‘time is money’ but this is an incorrect way of seeing time. From God’s perspective time is a gift and a tool for mankind that is to be used to produce a crop of fruit, either for ‘self’ or spirit. All farmers understand plants need time to grow. Likewise, God gave us time as an allowance to see if we would learn how to love.

Love is not just a feeling but goes far beyond that. God is love and His love has action connected to it. God’s love is continually expressed through His actions. When we see the highest pinnacle of God’s love in Jesus suffering a horrendous death for our sake, we begin to understand the nature of His love. His love cost Him something and that love goes far beyond the cross. When we were abandoned and alone, rejected by man and treated like trash in the wilderness, God was with us every single moment. He provided us food, shelter, warmth and medicine even though many tried to hurt us. His love was continually with us. This is who God is. This is what love looks like. This is the fruit that God is looking for from our lives as we live out in time.

So God has given us time to live on this earth so we can learn to love, actively, sacrificially and practically. God then marks time for us not by steady movements of the sun and moon but by how much we have developed and grown in love. This is why a 60-year old man can act like a 5-year old when he doesn’t get his way because he has not learned how to love. Or how a grown woman can act like a spoiled brat when someone cuts her off in traffic because she has not learned how to love. Physical age is tied to physical time but spiritual age is tied to progress in the lessons God gives us in love. If we fail those lessons, we do not mature. If we use the time given to us to solely indulge ‘self’, then we will never learn to love and will be perpetually immature. The time we were given will have been wasted. No matter how much ‘success’ you may have achieved on this earth, your life will have been a failure in God’s eyes.

On the other hand, if you faithfully learn the lessons of love God gives you at various stages of spiritual growth, then God will mark that progress and move you to the next lesson. Through time you will march forward to maturity as love fills your every action. This is a proper use of the gift of time God gives every person. If you are faithful in all the lessons that God gives you, your physical and spiritual ages may come into alignment. This is the person that will become one of the eternal Bride of Christ, physically and spiritually fully mature. ‘Self’ is no longer a force in the life of the Bride as the life of the spirit is in control and fully yielded to the will of God.

Time is a gift and a tool. When understood properly one can learn to wait on God in time and let Him do the great work He must do. He will expose ‘self’ to destroy it and will call forth spirit so that we can grow and mature in Christ-like character. When our time is done He will weigh our spirit core to find if we have more of spirit than ‘self’. All the ways of a man are clean and innocent in his own eyes [and he may see nothing wrong with his actions], But the Lord weighs and examines the motives and intents [of the heart and knows the truth].” Proverbs 16:2 If ‘self’ reigns we will find ourselves separated from the living God. If spirit reigns, and we have learned to love, we will enter into the reward He has prepared for us.