A classic message from Billy Graham (1978)
Time is collapsing on us. How brief is time? The Scripture says, “You have made my days as handbreadths, and my age is as nothing before You” (Psalm 39:5). If I live to be a hundred years of age, that’s nothing in eternity.
The Scripture says, “For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:4). A watch in the night was four hours, that’s all. One day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day. The Bible says, “My days are like a shadow that lengthens, and I wither away like grass. But You, O Lord, shall endure forever, and the remembrance of Your name to all generations” (Psalm 102:11-12).
Each of us has the same amount of time in every day—1,440 minutes a day, 168 hours a week. “The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10).
Let’s think about those 70-some years for a moment. The first 15 are spent in childhood. We spend 20 years sleeping. In our final years, physical limitations curtail our activities. So you’ve only got about 30 years left. Now part of that time has to be spent in eating, and part of that time has to be spent working. So how much time do you have left? “What is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away,” says James 4:14. Just a vapor. It comes up like a vapor and it’s gone. That’s what your life is in eternity, and in the sight of God.
The Bible says, “[Redeem] the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16). The Bible talks about the “prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2), who is the devil.
Jesus calls him the “prince of this world” (see John 12:31). The Bible talks about the great forces of evil, dominated by Satan, that have been unleashed upon the world. Thank God, someday Satan is going to be bound, and Satan will not trouble us anymore. But “[redeem] the time, because the days are evil.” That means that we are to buy some time. That word redeem is a business word. We are to redeem—we are to buy—the time at any cost to invest it in the Kingdom of God.
Have you ever thought of tithing your time? Every Christian ought to tithe his money. But what about tithing your time? I know about a man on the West Coast who decided he’d give 10 percent of his time to the Lord in witnessing. He went from door to door. In one year, more than 20 different families came into his church as a result of the faithful tithing of his time. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every professing Christian tithed his or her time, and went out witnessing for Christ and helping others? What a change it would make!
Then there’s the tyranny of time. Time controls us, and we become frustrated. We begin to run here and there doing this and that, because we say we don’t have enough time for everything. Jesus said, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4). Think of what Jesus did in 33 years. That’s all the time He lived on earth. And we don’t know much about His life except the last three years. In those three years, He healed the sick, He fed the hungry, He taught as no other teacher has ever taught.
But that wasn’t the real reason He came. He came to die on the cross for your sins. And when I see Jesus Christ on the cross, tears come to my eyes as I realize the love of God that was being poured out on that cross, and see the blood dripping from His hands and His feet and from His head. I know that He didn’t have to stay there. The angels of Heaven could have come to rescue Him, but He said, “No, I love them. I love them. I love them.”
There are billions and billions and billions of planets and stars. And as far as we know, this is the only planet in rebellion against God. God could have swept us all into eternity and destroyed this planet, but He didn’t do it. He said, “I love them too much.” He gave His only Son to die on the cross, and He took our sins. And I want to tell you this: If it cost Jesus Christ His life on that cross for your sins, you can be sure that you’ll never get to Heaven except by the way of that cross. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
There are many people who are nominal Christians. You joined a church, you have been baptized. Maybe in your church you were confirmed, but you really don’t know Christ. You’ve never had a real experience with Him so that He dominates your life and controls your life. You have not surrendered to the lordship of Christ.
If you are looking for purpose and meaning in life, give your life to Christ. Get into the cause of Jesus Christ and march in His army under His banner. We could use millions of people marching for Christ all over the world right now, taking love instead of hate to the world, telling the people how to be saved, telling them how they can find forgiveness and newness of life.
Jesus said, “I have finished the work which You have given me to do” (John 17:4). God has given you something to do, too. Are you working on it? Have you finished it? You don’t have much time. Your life is a vapor, it’s a handbreadth, it’s grass that grows and withers. It may soon be over; it may be over at any time.
We never know how long we have to live. That’s the reason the Bible says, “Prepare to meet your God” (Amos 4:12). Be ready at all times. “Be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:44). He’s coming again; but He’s also coming to you in death one of these days. Are you ready?
Redeem the time. You don’t have very much of it. The days are evil, life is very brief, the time is urgent. Don’t waste it. Because, you see, you’re going to be held accountable at the Judgment. There is going to be a Judgment in which every word that you’ve ever spoken, every thought you’ve ever had, every moral choice you ever faced, everything you’ve ever done will be accountable at the Judgment.
Jesus will say to you, “Depart from Me, you cursed; I never knew you” (see Matthew 7:23; 25:41). But you’ll argue a little bit. You’ll say, “But, Lord, I did this. I did that. Lord, I was busy doing a lot of things.” But, you see, you didn’t do the most important thing. You didn’t receive Jesus Christ into your heart as Lord and Savior when you had a chance.
Time calls for immediate action. “Now is the accepted time; today is the day of salvation.” Every time your clock ticks, it’s saying, “Now, now, now, now, now, now, now.”
Hebrews 3:15 says: “Today, if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” You can hear the Gospel and do nothing about it. You don’t make your commitment to Christ. You harden your heart. And after a while you can’t hear His voice any longer because your heart is hard. And without the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, you cannot come to Christ.
Come now! If God is whispering to you, come to Christ. There’s a warning in time. It will someday be too late for your soul. Time is too short for indecision and vacillation. I’m asking you to receive Christ now.
When you come to Jesus Christ, you not only accept Him as Savior from your sins, you accept Him as Lord of your life. You become His follower and He becomes Lord of every phase of your life—Lord of your business, Lord of your family, Lord of your life, Lord of your relationships, Lord of everything. That’s what it means to surrender to Christ. You must be willing for the whole world to know that you are putting Christ first in everything that you do from now on.