Our title is but one phrase that emphasizes the importance of timely completion. It comes from the language of contracts and recognizes that delay causes harm.
When it comes to spiritual things, time is of the essence. Delay is dangerous. We are often reminded in Scripture of the brevity of life and the immanence of Christ’s coming.
When we see the death of children and of youths in the prime of life, we are again reminded that time waits for no one. Time is no respecter of person, “time and chance may overcome them all” Ecclesiastes 9.11.
Yes, time is of the essence, so what ought we to do?
So keep what you have received
“I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have so that no one can take away your crown” Revelation 3.11.
If we have received the true gospel, we must not let anything or anyone steal it away. Persecution applies pressure to abandon our faith. But the coming Christ motivates us to hold on.
So many today are changing the gospel, making it into something other than God’s good news. We cannot, like the apostle to the Gentiles, ever surrender to those who cave to the popular opinion: “But we did not surrender to them even for a moment, in order that the truth of the gospel would remain with you” Galatians 2.5.
The word of truth is the gospel of salvation, and it is only the word of truth that brings the Holy Spirit into our lives, Ephesians 1.13. How ironic that so many who talk so much about the Spirit have so little of him in their lives, because they teach a different doctrine!
It is only “by holding on to the word of life” that we will “shine as lights in the world” Philippians 2.15-16. This word of life is contained in the apostolic traditions that today are available to us in Holy Scripture, 2 Thessalonians 2.15.
So speak what you have heard
If we belive it, we will speak it. By these terms, few really believe, but practice a silent faith, a faith like that of Israel, who saw themselves as the final goal of blessing. But they were supposed to be a conduit, or channel, of blessing to the nations.
They extinguished their witness in the world, in spite of God making them a “light to the nations, so you can bring my deliverance to the remote regions of the earth” Isaiah 49.6.
With the gospel we have an even greater mission to shine our gospel lights before people for God’s glory, Matthew 5.16. In praising God for John’s birth, Zechariah saw coming over the horizon that the Lord would bring the dawn “to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death” Luke 1.79. Simeon say in the child Jesus that God had sent his salvation as “a light, for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel” Luke 2.32.
How does this light get to the nations? We return to Philippians 2.15 again: “you live in a crooked and perverse society, in which you shine as lights in the world.” The light is in the gospel which we have been given to share with the world, 2 Timothy 1.10.
The apostle Paul wrote, “But since we have the same spirit of faith as that shown in what has been written, ‘I believed; therefore I spoke,’ we also believe, therefore we also speak” 1 Corinthians 4.13.
So use what you have been given
The one-talent man received a precious gift from his lord. Rather than use it, he buried it and consequently lost it in the end, Matthew 25.14-30. The use of our precious gifts must not be for selfish ends; this was the Corinthians problem, 1 Corinthians 12-14. They had missed the main point, love which serves its brother, 1 Corinthians 13.
“Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of the varied grace of God” 1 Peter 4.10.
What Paul said specifically of himself also applies in a general way to all saints: “I became a servant of this gospel according to the gift of God’s grace that was given to me by the exercise of his power” Ephesians 3.7.
We are called to serve one another, not our own interest and certainly not our own passions. “For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity to indulge your flesh, but through love serve one another” Galatians 5.13.
We eat our food and do not share. We sleep in comfortable beds but do not show hospitality. We have closets full of clothes but do not cover the naked. We have received the love of God in Christ but remain silent and hide our precious, eternal gift contained in the Good News.
What must God think of us?!
Time is of the essence. So what must we do? Eternity presses down hard upon us. Will the love of Christ constrain us?