In this challenging article from the 'Parish Life' Journal of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St John the Baptist, Washington, DC., the importance of the right use of time is clearly shown...
The Apostle Paul writes regarding time that we walk circumspectly “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil...” Thus he concisely said... the days are evil, life is short, and that is something we need to remember, to feel to the depths of our hearts, and to understand how precious is the time allotted to us. Some people think that reflection on the swift passage of time is to contemplate something sad, something that drives us towards anguish and gloomy thoughts. But it is not at all like that. To the contrary, every minute brings us closer to eternity, and asks us, “What have you done [to prepare] for that?”
After all, we are but guests here on this earth. We are guests for a brief span of time, a very brief period that comes out of a mystery and departs into a mystery. But the Lord reveals to us that this brief life is of great significance for us, for it is the school of eternity in which our person, our conscience, all within us that is Divine, grows and becomes educated.
How frightening it is for someone who has wasted his time, spent it on an abyss of trivialities, on miserable, insignificant things. He turns around only to find that his life has already passed, spent in petty concerns, empty fruitless chatter, in things perhaps not even worth contemplating. Time passes.
Time cannot be turned back for even a second, and that is why the Apostle implores us to redeem the time, not waste it, not spend it on idle words and needless works. Remember: every minute is precious. Any hour may cost a person life eternal. When we think about this, we treat life, our responsibilities, our efforts, and everything around us differently. We take more care, knowing that today or tomorrow we can be called to account. Just imagine: today, tomorrow, we may all perish. Half of us, bent over with serious illnesses, are already moving toward life’s end. The rest of us can die at any moment.
Once again, I repeat: thinking about proper life, about responsibility, reflecting on what we bring with us when we present ourselves, what we have managed to be able to do in this life with what our conscience, our duty demanded of us—is no cause for despondency. How beautiful, how really fulfilled life becomes when you feel a sense of responsibility. Remaining mindful of what is to come for us should serve to encourage and strengthen us, keeping us from weakening, becoming undisciplined, falling into despondency, idleness, pettiness, and utter insignificance. This is why in days of old it was the custom to keep a human skull as a reminder of death, in one’s home; people would even add a sign saying “Memento moiré!” — “Reminder of death!” Remember, so as to live properly, self-collectedly, cognizant of all, to live in love, in labors, in understanding that this is all given to us but for a short time.
How many stones there are scattered about! Millions, billions, and we tread upon them without even noticing them. Yet gold is collected in tiny grains, and one gram of gold costs an enormous amount of money, as a single grain is not enough. So here, we also have time, which just like gold, is something precious. Therefore, let each of you keep to a firm rule that we treat it reverently. If we work, work, if we pray, pray, if we rest, rest. But nothing should be done senselessly, stupidly.
“To kill time” is a frightening expression. The words are correct, but also frightening, for time is life. And if we kill time, if we waste it, we kill our own life. Let us test ourselves, think, try to see that nothing ever transpires in vain, in idleness, in futility, in mediocrity.
And finally: when the Apostle tells us, “Redeem the time, for the days are evil,” the words should teach us to distinguish what is the main thing in life, what is the most important, from what is less important. The main thing is what makes us people, what we will carry over to the other side, the characteristics which remain with us when we are old, decrepit, dead in body but eternal in soul. The main things are that which each of us collects as a treasure in this our life. All of the rest but serves that end. We eat, we clothe ourselves, we work—all in order to support life, so that the spirit might grow, for without that goal, how are we any different from any animal or tree that takes nourishment, grows, and multiplies?
So, redeem the time for the sake of your soul, and in your life, treat it as a great gift from God. I know several people who were gravely ill, and then found that the Lord had granted them additional time. How they treasured it, how they were thankful to God for allowing them another year, two years, or some other indeterminate span. It was then that they were sharply aware of time, as one should be. So why should we wait for some grave danger or sickness? How much better to hearken today to the Apostle’s words, “Redeem the time, for the days are evil.”