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Direction: Lay Out Your Time for God

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade …

Exhortation to Good Traders in Christianity

Advice: Lay Out for God

Direction: Lay Out Your Time for God}


Lay out your time for God. Among the many wastes of mercies of which souls are guilty, this is not the least: waste of precious time. There is no created blessing of greater worth than time.1568 It is during time that a foundation is laid for all those mercies that are eternal. Time is a talent and treasure. Time is not only a mercy, but something without which there can be no mercy.1569 Therefore consider how you use your time.


Motivation: Your Time Is Not Yours, But God’s

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation to Good Traders in Christianity

Advice: Lay Out for God

Direction: Lay Out Your Time for God

Motivation: Your Time Is Not Yours, But God’s}


Your time is not yours, but God’s, made by Him and for Him. “Yours is the day, Yours also is the night; You have prepared the light and the sun” (Psalm 74:16 NASB). Time is that space between two eternities, limited by divine pleasure to divine use. [Regarding mankind:] “Since his days are determined, The number of his months is with You; And his limits You have set so that he cannot pass” (Job 14:5 NASB). And if time is the Lord’s, then it is fit that it should be used for God. Give to God the things that are God’s (Matthew 22:21).1570 When you sin away or trifle away this time, think about this: “Now I rob God and spend another’s goods.” You who hate robbery of people, do not steal from God and your own souls. Time belongs to God, not you.


Motivation: Much of Your Time Is Lost Already

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation to Good Traders in Christianity

Advice: Lay Out for God

Direction: Lay Out Your Time for God

Motivation: Much of Your Time Is Lost Already}


Think how much you have lost of past time. This should make you conscientious in your use of present time. “For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh” (Psalm 90:9 ESV). We spend our years as a tale that is told, which then vanishes into the air and is soon gone. Someone said, “Much of our time is plucked away from us, more is stolen away, but most of it just slides away. Oh, how little a piece of life is that which we live.” How much of your time has just vanished as if buried in the grave? How much of your time have you spent shopping?1571 How much slept away in the vineyard [instead of working]? When the necessities of life, self, the world, and sin have had their shares every day, how small a portion is left for God? Hence it is that the apostle advises saints to make the most of their time (Ephesians 5:15–16),1572 and to get time for God and their souls, even if there is some loss to other interests. This is because time has been taken captive by self, sin, and the world, and held prisoner for so long. This waste of former time makes it absolutely necessary for those who want to reach their journey’s end before their day [life] is gone to redeem time from their callings, recreation, refreshments, idleness, and all else, for the recovery of neglected work. Otherwise, they will find their work lacking when they come to die.1573Give me my time again,” a woman on her deathbed said. She had fears about her eternal state and nothing could relieve her troubled soul; she had lost time that she could have given to the salvation of her soul.


Motivation: Your Time Is Short and Uncertain

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade …

Exhortation to Good Traders in Christianity

Advice: Lay Out for God

Direction: Lay Out Your Time for God

Motivation: Your Time Is Short and Uncertain}


Consider how short and uncertain your remaining time is or may be. The whole time of your life is just a span,1574 a hand-breadth,1575 a post,1576 a weaver’s shuttle, a vapor, a tale that is told and then gone, as a flower of the field, things of no duration (Job 9:21; Psalm 39:5; James 4:14).1577 Someone said, “Present time is a short parenthesis in a long time period, so short that before we can name it, our present time has become past time.” Another said, “Our whole life consists of just two days: the day of our birth and the day of our death. For no sooner are we born than we begin to die.”1578 Time is flying on wings, hastening to eternity every moment. Time travels when you sleep and runs when you creep. Time goes on when you stop and gets ground when you go backwards. As the stream hastens to the ocean day and night, so does time toward eternity. Oh, use your time for God while you have it! It will shortly not belong to you anymore. If you do not use it, you will lose it. [You cannot restrain time;] it is better to let God have your time than to let it run away to no purpose. If duty does not use time well, rust will consume it, and the devil, world, and flesh will wholly steal it. It is better to give it to God than let the moth and caterpillar devour it. Besides this, you cannot put it to better profit than to lay it out for God.


Motivation: You Cannot Put Your Time to Better Profit than to Lay It Out for God

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation to Good Traders in Christianity

Advice: Lay Out for God

Direction: Lay Out Your Time for God

Motivation: It Is Profitable to Give Your Time to God}


Can you put your time to better profit than to lay it out for God? He will give you the greatest return on your investment. Nothing will give you greater returns on your time than will God. Put all of the returns from other uses of your time on one side of the scale, and the returns from God on the other side. You will soon see the difference. Time laid out for God will give you the most secure returns. Give God His time, and He will give you your time, all the time that is needed for a blessed eternity. There is no better way to enjoy time than to use it for God. “Long life is in her right hand; In her left hand are riches and honor” (Proverbs 3:16 NASB). Time expended for God not only gives secure returns, but sanctifies your time, as the firstfruits do the whole lump (Romans 11:16).1579 In addition, time devoted to God brings in eternal returns. Although time is an earthly thing, if used [for God] it will bring eternal returns (2 Corinthians 4:18).1580 It will also bring you mercy in the time of need. Give God your time when you are able to work, and God will feed you when you are disabled. “When I was a young man,” said Mr. Bruce, “I was diligent and lived by faith in the Son of God, but now I am old and not able to do so much, yet He condescends to feed me.”1581


Motivation: You Must Give an Account of Your Time to God

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation to Good Traders in Christianity

Advice: Lay Out for God

Direction: Lay Out Your Time for God

Motivation: You Must Give Account of Your Time to God}


You must give an account of your time to God. He takes notice of how people’s time is spent and will judge them accordingly. “Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’” (Luke 13:7 NKJV). “For forty years I loathed that generation, And said they are a people who err in their heart, And they do not know My ways” (Psalm 95:10 NASB). “And tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:44 ESV). God looks for fruit every month from His people (Ezekiel 47:12).1582 Oh, how important is it to you to arrange how you spend your time so that you can give a comfortable account of it in the day of Christ! Then you will wish that God had had more of your time when you account for it. What a blank will be in our account of time if it is not better used than previously. The time that was spent for eternity here will yield you the most comfort when you go to eternity.


Motivation: How Can You Begrudge a Little Time for God Who Has Not Begrudged You an Eternity of Mercy?

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation to Good Traders in Christianity

Advice: Lay Out for God

Direction: Lay Out Your Time for God

Why Begrudge Time for God Who Gives Eternal Mercy?}


How can you consider a little time for God to be too much when God has prepared an eternity of mercy for you? Christian, God has prepared for you salvation with eternal glory (2 Timothy 2:10).1583 [He will give you] an incorruptible crown, an inheritance that will not fade away, and a kingdom that cannot be shaken. It is with this very argument that the apostle presses the saints to not grow weary in the work of this present time (Galatians 6:8–9).1584 Think about the ingratitude that it shows when you withhold your time from the Lord Who has dealt so bountifully with you and originally gave you your time. He has denied these blessings to many others and will shortly end your time of troubles with eternal rest in blessed mansions of pure pleasure with Himself. Let Christ’s love shame you for badly used time and motivate you to lay out all possible time for God.


1568Wrong ideas about time have led to many theological errors, including the so-called openness of God, a heresy that teaches that God waits to see what people do, then makes a response. First, time is a created thing. The rate at which an observer experiences time can change based on physical phenomena, including speed and gravity. This is not mere conjecture; the GPS system depends on making corrections for both. Time is a basic component of this created universe. Second, the eternity in which God “dwells”—for want of a better term—is something mysterious, but very different from the time that is part of this universe. Probably also, the times of everlasting duration that saints in Heaven and the damned in Hell experience is not the same as that of this universe, but also certainly and necessarily not the same as the uncreated eternity in which God “dwells.” Unlike time for us creatures, God’s eternity is of Himself as He is a self-existent, self-sufficient being. Does God know some analog to our created time in His eternity, seeing that we are made in His image? Perhaps. All this discussion simply shows that Ashwood was more right than he probably knew for certain; the time we experience is a created gift that is integral to our universe, just as air and water and sunshine.

1569Ashwood seems to this editor to be simply saying that, since we exist in time, it is during the course of time that we receive other mercies. Of course, the same is true of air, gravity, and so on.

1570They said to Him, ‘Caesar’s.’ And He said to them, ‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s’” (Matthew 22:21 NKJV).

1571Ashwood has marketplace. The editor has translated it as shopping because it seems that Ashwood is not referring to productive commerce, but to the common practice in traditional open-air markets of idle talk and lost time not engaged in needful procurement of goods. For some people, shopping is as much entertainment as the process of obtaining necessities.

1572Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15–16 NASB).

1573There are two ways people may find their work lacking or incomplete at death. First, those who have never repented and trusted in Christ and closed with Christ will find themselves in Hell for eternity; it is not good enough to have merely been thinking about it or studying it. Second, those who do believe will receive a reward according to their work, not because of their work. The eternal inheritance and reward is entirely earned by our Lord Jesus. The sooner a Christian repents of overvaluing temporal things at the expense of heavenly rewards, the better off he or she will be in Heaven. The heavenly reward is both eternal and of absolutely enormous value compared with any of the things of this short life. Added to that, God is merciful to the repentant: “However, if you have warned the righteous man that the righteous should not sin and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; and you have delivered yourself” (Ezekiel 3:21 NASB). “For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, ‘I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the contrite’” (Isaiah 57:15 NASB).

1574A rough measurement made by the distance between pinkie finger and thumb tips with the hand maximally splayed out.

1575A rough measurement made by the width of the palm of the hand.

1576post: in this limited context, possibly a guard post, a single watch of guard duty.

1577I am blameless; I regard not myself; I loathe my life” (Job 9:21 ESV). “Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Selah” (Psalm 39:5 NASB). “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:14 NASB).

1578This is overstated, but it is worth recalling that the roughly twenty- to thirty-year-old age bracket is when athletic and mental abilities start to decline; this is less than half a normal lifespan.

1579If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches” (Romans 11:16 ESV).

1580“…while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18 NKJV).

1581Part of this quotation is unclear.

1582Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine” (Ezekiel 47:12 NKJV).

1583Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:10 ESV).

1584For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:8–9 ESV).

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