What Time is It?

What Time Is It?

“Daddy, what time is it?”  With little concept of the reality of time, my youngest daughter asks this question on many nights.  “It’s 9pm” is the equivalent to “it’s 7pm” to her.  It’s simply an answer from her daddy in which a meaningless number is attached.  But when I say, “It’s bedtime,” she knows it’s time to spring into action – brush teeth, get dressed, read a book, sing songs, say prayers, and go to sleep.  Without my specific reminder of just what time it is, I don’t know if my youngest child would ever go to sleep.

I wonder how many people walk around with no idea of just what time it is.  Oh, we know the time on our smartphone and the date on our Google calendar, but do we really know what time it is, and does it spring us into action?

In 1 Peter 4:7, the Apostle Peter reminds us what time it is in light of eternity, saying, “The end of all things is at hand.”  In other words, we live temporary lives in a temporary world, and any day now, the eternal God is going to make all things new.

One might think that if we understood this fully, we would care less about our lives today and get lost in the promise of eternity.  But according to Peter, knowing what time it really is springs us into action, giving our lives meaning and purpose.  What are these actions at the end of all things to which the author points?

#1 – Pray (vs. 7) Peter says, “Be self-controlled and sober–minded for the sake of your prayers.”  In other words, when we forget what time it is, we easily get distracted by the desires of our hearts, running after things that will not last and that will ultimately let us down.  Or we get bogged down in our anxieties and fear and seek our vice-du-jour to numb the pain and create a diversion for our minds.  When we know what time it is, we are driven to our knees before the God who not only knows the end from the beginning, but is Himself the beginning and the end.

#2 – Love (vs. 8) “Above all, keep loving one another with a sincere heart, since love covers a multitude of sins.”  When we forget what time it is, we become self-focused, hypocritical, acting as though our reputations and desires are far more important than the people with whom we’ve been called to live in community.  Jesus, though, makes clear that love among believers is the great apologetic to the world that God is real, and He has a people whose lives have been transformed, even as they wait on Him (Jn. 13:34—35).  When we know what time it is, we’re free to love as Christ loves us, with sincerity, forgiveness and grace.

#3 – Show Hospitality (vs. 9) Peter is not calling the church to put on a Thanksgiving spread that would make Martha Stewart proud.  Instead, the Biblical call to hospitality is a call to open our homes and our lives to one another and to our neighbors in such a way that the welcome of Jesus is evidenced through us.  When we forget what time it is, we become stingy with our homes and our lives because hospitality often requires us to be inconvenienced.  When we know what time it is, we are reminded that our lives are not our own, but belong to the one who was more than inconvenienced to come to this earth and welcome us with his nail-scarred hands.

#4 – Serve (vs. 10-11a) According to Peter, service flows from the fact that our time, talents, and treasures are owned by God and given to us to steward for His purpose in the world.  When we forget what time it is, we most easily serve ourselves, guarding our time for our pleasure, using our talents to garner the applause of others, and saving and spending our treasure for the purpose of accumulating today what will ultimately end up at the local dump.  When we know what time it is, we’re free to live out of God’s pleasure, for God’s purpose and in light of His security, knowing that we have the privilege today to steward our temporal resources for His eternal purposes.

#5 – Bring Glory to God (vs. 11b)  He says we do these things, “in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. ”  What time is it?   Whether now – through Prayer, deeds of Love, demonstrations of hospitality, and acts of service – or in eternity, it’s always the right time to bring glory to God with our lives.  God’s glory is not only a reality of who he is, but is the calling of every person who ever lived, and Peter gives us these four important ways we can do this at this and any time.

How can we remember what time it really is?  We hear the voice of our Heavenly Father in His Word, “The end of all things is near,” so live as if today really matters for eternity.  According to God’s Word it really does.  “To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever.  Amen” (vs. 11).