I Must Use Life Well
George Everard, 1881
I must use life well, because every moment of it is so precious. The minutes and hours of life are like the gold-dust which the goldsmith so carefully gathers together that none be lost.
"I have lost a day!" was the sorrowful lament of one who had learned the real value of time. If I waste my life I shall have only to blame myself that I am poor and lost, and undone forever. The laborer works hard early and late in seed-time and in harvest-time — and life is both one and the other.
I may now sow the good seed — the heavenly seed which shall hereafter afford me a rich growth of blessing. If I sow to the Spirit the seed of earnest prayers, holy thoughts, words spoken from the good treasure of a renewed heart, just and loving deeds and actions, efforts to do all the good in my power to all around — then shall I reap according as I have sown. And being saved only by the merit of my Savior, I shall likewise receive through His grace an unfading crown of glory.
But life is also my harvest-time. I may gather in sheaves for the garner of the Great Gardener. I may win souls for Christ, and every soul saved will bring far greater honor than attends any earthly success.
Life is very precious, and I dare not and will not throw any of it away!
I must also use life well because it will soon be over. My days and years will soon be spent, and I cannot recall them. My life is but a shadow — it is but a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away. Even if I am spared to the full age of man, compared with the long life awaiting me hereafter, my life here is but as a moment. "You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's life is but a breath." Psalm 39:5
An old man was traveling some years ago with a young lady in a coach. A word was spoken to him about his past life, and how it seemed to him as he looked back upon it.
With great earnestness he lifted up both hands and exclaimed, "It is as nothing! It is as nothing!" The word touched the heart of his fellow-traveler, and led her to a new view of the importance of life.
Let me endeavor then to remember how soon life will be gone, and be very careful to use well each precious moment.
If I had a little bucket of water, and no more could be obtained — how carefully should I watch that none of it ran to waste. Each drop I would reckon of great value. Such is my life. It is all I have. I must therefore lose none. I must squander none. "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom."
But life is also very uncertain. I may have far less than I think. I may be looking forward to years to come, and yet I may have but a few months or weeks or days to live!
I remember a woman who said that some day she would begin to attend our village church. She was in middle age, and had lived a sadly wicked and abandoned life. She thought that she had time enough and to spare, to think of more serious subjects. She did indeed soon afterwards come to our village church — but how did she come? She was carried on men's shoulders, and then left in the silent grave. Only six weeks had passed since the day she promised that some time she would begin a new life. "Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth!" Proverbs 27:1
Let me well consider how I can make the best use of life, and how I can improve it to the greatest advantage.
I must put first, or best, things first. Many people work very hard, and labor early and late, and yet at last they discover that it has been to little profit, because they have neglected the chief thing.
"What shall it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" "One thing is needful." "Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness." I must therefore first of all make sure of my salvation. I must come to Christ. I must confess the sins of my life past, and seek to be cleansed in His precious blood. I must ask for the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to renew me unto holiness. I must watch against my besetting sins, and daily walk before God, and endeavor to do the things that are pleasing in His sight. I must search God's Holy Word continually, and pray for grace day by day to follow in the footsteps of the Good Shepherd. My aim must be that of the apostle, "To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." "Whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord."
If I would make the best use of life, I must watch the moments and hours as they fly. I must avoid all sloth or idleness; I must not waste time in overmuch sleep or in profitless mirth. I must do heartily and with all my might, whatever work lies before me. I must cultivate the habit of filling up the niches of time by wholesome reading or by conversation that may edify others. I must take special care to spend well my Sundays and my leisure hours. It shall be my constant effort to get all the good I can, and to do all the good I can. I may be learning something every day that will assist me in the battle I have to fight and in the work I have to do.
And I may be able in some way to assist others. I may relieve some burdened, sorrowful heart by a few kindly words. I may find work in some portion the Lord's vineyard. I may teach the young, or visit the sick, or read to some aged one, the chapter of the Bible or the book that may suit their case. I will do what I can, and I will ask Him whose name is Counselor to show me the work He has for me to do.
So I trust my life will not be a lost one. When I am laid in my last earthly resting place, I trust my spirit will be with Christ in paradise. And though I can do but little compared with many others, I trust He will say to me at last: "Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master!" Matthew 25:23