Caramizile Casniciei (Part 4) Dragostea

Cititi

  1. Part 1 Legamintul
  2. Part 2 Scopul lui Dumnezeu in casnicie
  3. Part 3 Timpul

de Scott si Cheri Scheer

„Dragostea este îndelung răbdătoare, este plină de bunătate: dragostea nu pizmuieşte; dragostea nu se laudă, nu se umflă de mândrie, nu se poartă necuviincios, nu caută folosul său, nu se mânie, nu se gândeşte la rău, nu se bucură de nelegiuire, ci se bucură de adevăr, acoperă totul, crede totul, nădăjduieşte totul, suferă totul. Dragostea nu va pieri niciodată” (1 Corinteni 13:4-8).

Dragostea este una din nevoile emoţionale de bază ale omului. Ea îi motivează pe oameni să facă uneori chiar imposibilul. Dragostea a fost catalizatorul care a inspirat marile opere de artă, pe marii scriitori, precum şi pe marii compozitori. Tot ea i-a motivat pe unii sa ucidă şi a inspirat chiar şi câteva războaie, în topul şlagărelor, dragostea a fost ani de zile cea mai importantă temă. Problema societăţii este modul cum înţelege dragostea.

În Epistola a doua către Timotei, Pavel scrie: „Să ştii că în zilele din urmă vor fi vremuri grele. Căci oamenii vor fi iubitori de sine, iubitori de bani, lăudăroşi, trufaşi, hulitori, neascultători de părinţi, nemulţumitori, fără evlavie, fără dragoste firească, neînduplecaţi, clevetitori, neînfrânaţi, neîmblânziţi, neiubitori de bine, vânzători, obraznici, îngâmfaţi; iubitori mai mult de plăceri decât iubitori de Dumnezeu” (2 Timotei 3:1-4).

Dacă ne uităm mai atent la acest text, iubitori mai mult de plăceri decât iubitori de Dumnezeu, înţelegem că noi trăim cu certitudine zilele din urmă. Percepţia pe care lumea o are asupra dragostei este total diferită de viziunea lui Dumnezeu. Motivul divorţului, incestului, abuzului şi violenţei din familii este, în parte, o înţelegere incorectă a dragostei. Această percepţie a lumii se împarte în două categorii: dragostea „din cauza” şi dragostea „dau şi iau”.

Dragostea „din cauza” este dragostea care spune: „Te iubesc pentru că eşti atât de frumoasă.” „Te iubesc pentru că ai un simţ deosebit al umorului…” „Te iubesc pentru că eşti bogat/ă.” „Te iubesc pentru ochii, părul, trupul tău, pentru slujba ta, mediul care te-a format, religia ta.” înţelegeţi ce vreau să spun? Aşa este percepută dragostea la Hollywood. Problema cu acest tip de dragoste este ce se întâmplă când trec anii, când slăbeşti, falimentezi, te îmbolnăveşti de cataractă, cheleşti, te îngraşi, îţi pierzi slujba etc.

Celălalt tip de dragoste care predomină în societatea noastră este dragostea „dau şi iau”. Am mai putea-o numi dragoste de tipul „hai să ne-nţelegem”. Eu lucrez şi câştig cele necesare; tu ai grijă de casă, găteşti, faci curăţenie şi speli hainele. Este un fel de dragoste care se bazează pe ceea ce faci, nu pe ceea ce ai. Ea se bazează pe contribuţia pe care tu o ai în cadrul relaţiei. Să precizăm încă o dată că acest gen de dragoste este plin de neajunsuri. Ce se va întâmpla cu dragostea, dacă se schimbă împrejurările?

Aproape fiecare căsătorie trece prin trei stadii. Primul este acela al încântării, apoi al revenirii la realitate şi, în final, dacă totul merge cu bine, stadiul maturităţii.

ÎNCÂNTAREA

Este stadiul în care eşti în al nouălea cer, visător, plin de iubire, în acest stadiu fermecat, totul este perfect; hormonii se află în febră; este timpul lunii de miere, în anii în care am fost consilieri premaritali, am văzut multe cupluri de îndrăgostiţi în biroul nostru, încercam să le vorbim despre posibile probleme care ar putea interveni în viaţa lor – tensiuni la serviciu, probleme financiare, rudele prin alianţă, copiii etc. De fiecare dată primeam de la ei acelaşi răspuns: „Aşa ceva nu ni se va întâmpla niciodată.”

REVENIREA LA REALITATE

Acest stadiu spune: „Totul este greşit; cred că am făcut o greşeală; nu cu această persoană m-am căsătorit eu; nu pot să trăiesc aşa; renunţ.” Din păcate, pentru foarte multe cupluri, revenirea la realitate se întâmplă la foarte puţin timp după luna de miere. Este stadiul în care jumătate din căsnicii se destramă. Un număr mare de căsnicii rămân doar la acest nivel. Convingerile pe care le au îi ţin împreună, dar ei trăiesc o viaţă de familie mediocră, de nemulţumire şi dezamăgire. Una dintre cele mai mari tragedii ale vieţii este să vezi doi oameni care au fost odată îndrăgostiţi nebuneşte şi acum sunt înveninaţi, plini de mânie şi ostili.

MATURITATEA

În acest stadiu, se poate spune: „Ne vom ocupa de această problemă, va fi bine, haide să vorbim, vom trece peste ea cu ajutorul dragostei, legământului şi credinţei noastre”. Aici se poate realiza împlinirea nevoilor fiecăruia şi se poate experimenta bucuria şi satisfacţia pe care le aduce căsătoria. O relaţie matură în dragoste se poate realiza numai când fiecare înţelege realmente ce înseamnă dragostea lui Dumnezeu pentru noi şi încearcă să o pună în aplicare. O căsnicie ajunsă la stadiul de maturitate trebuie să fie ţelul pe care să şi-l propună fiecare cuplu. Şi aceasta cere un preţ. Cu multă strădanie şi cu ajutorul şi călăuzirea Duhului Sfânt, orice familie poate să ajungă la acest nivel.

TREI FELURI DE DRAGOSTE

PHILEO – este dragostea frăţească. Termenul provine din greacă, de unde avem şi cuvântul Philadelphia, cetatea dragostei frăţeşti. O relaţie de dragoste împlinită are nevoie de dezvoltarea unei prietenii profunde. Unitatea în cadrul unei familii o pot realiza bărbatul şi femeia care au învăţat cum-să fie buni prieteni. „Cine acoperă o greşeală caută dragostea, dar cine o pomeneşte mereu în vorbirile lui dezbină pe prieteni” (Proverbe 17:9). Dragostea frăţească se referă la capacitatea de a-ţi împărtăşi simţămintele, fără a te teme că devii vulnerabil sau că ai putea fi atacat. Este o mare binecuvântare să poţi să vorbeşti liber, să te poţi bucura de acceptarea şi înţelegerea unui prieten. Acoperirea păcatului presupune să-l accepţi pe celălalt şi să treci peste greşelile şi slăbiciunile celuilalt. „Prietenul adevărat iubeşte oricând..” (Proverbe 17:17).

Se întâmplă adeseori ca o relaţie de prietenie puternică pe care unul dintre soţi o are cu altcineva decât tovarăşul său de viaţă să intervină în relaţia lor de familie, în loc să dezvoltăm cu partenerul de viaţă acest tip de dragoste frăţească, ne împrietenim cu cineva din afara familiei. Dorinţa înnăscută de a experimenta dragostea frăţească va fi satisfăcută fie în cadrul familiei, fie în afara ei. Un prieten din afară nu va fi interesat de cum îţi petreci timpul sau cum îţi cheltuieşti banii. Cu un astfel de prieten nu trebuie să faci faţă tuturor problemelor, aşa cum o faci cu partenerul de viaţă. Să mergi la cumpărături sau să ieşi la pescuit poate sa fie mult mai plăcut şi mult mai puţin stresant cu altcineva decât cu partenerul tău de viaţă.

Cu toate că poate fi un câştig real în plan emoţional să ai un prieten cu care să-ţi împărtăşeşti asemenea preocupări, în familie există riscul unei îndepărtări de partenerul de viaţă. Dragostea frăţească presupune să petreci timp împreună şi să iei în serios fiecare problemă. Dragostea frăţească nu are de-a face cu relaţiile sexuale, nici cu legământul; este legată de prietenie. „Cine îşi face mulţi prieteni îi face spre nenorocirea lui, dar este un prieten care ţine mai mult la tine decât un frate” (Proverbe 18:24).

EROS – este dragostea trupească. Eros este dragostea pe care Dumnezeu a creat-o numai pentru relaţia de căsătorie. Oricine poate avea relaţii de tipul phileo sau agape cu mai mulţi oameni, la diferite nivele. Dragostea eros nu trebuie concepută ca o reacţie hedonistă, erotică, hormonală. Ea face parte din planul unic al Creatorului de a uni naturile fizică, emoţională şi spirituală ale soţului şi soţiei. „Izvorul tău să fie binecuvântat şi bucură-te de nevasta tinereţii tale” (Proverbe 5:18). Dumnezeu l-a creat pe om în aşa fel încât să se bucure de relaţia sexuală. Aceasta face parte din planul minunat al lui Dumnezeu pentru împlinirea omului şi fericirea căsătoriei sale.

Trupul a fost întocmit aşa încât să fie completat cu celălalt sex. Creierul, glandele, nervii, hormonii, organele genitale ale bărbatului şi ale femeii au fost întocmite în aşa fel încât să aducă un plus de plăcere în experienţa sexuală. Păcatul a pervertit planul minunat al lui Dumnezeu, aşa încât cuplurilor creştine le este dificil de multe ori să îl pună pe Dumnezeu în centrul vieţii lor, chiar şi în ce priveşte relaţia fizică. „Cerboaică iubită, căprioară plăcută: fii îmbătat tot timpul de drăgălăşiile ei, fii îndrăgostit necurmat de dragostea ei!” (Proverbe 5:19). „Ce lipici în dezmierdările tale, soro, mireasa! Dezmierdările tale preţuiesc mai mult decât vinul şi miresmele tale sunt mai plăcute decât toate miroznele! Miere picură din buzele tale, mireasă, miere şi lapte se află sub limba ta şi mirosul hainelor tale este ca mirosul Libanului. Eşti o grădină închisă, soro, mireasă, un izvor închis, o fântână pecetluita” (Cântarea cântărilor 4:10-12).

Cunoaşterea fizică/ înţelegerea generală a operaţiunilor fiziologice ale corpului tău, respectiv ale partenerului tău, poate juca un rol vital într-o relaţie sexuală sănătoasă. Bărbatul şi femeia au fost întocmiţi să se completeze unul pe celălalt, chiar dacă nu răspund în mod necesar la aceiaşi stimuli. Un soţ sau o soţie plini de dragoste vor avea grijă să studieze cum funcţionează trupul partenerului lor şi cum să-i aducă celuilalt cât mai multă plăcere. Vă recomandăm cu multă căldură să citiţi cartea Dr. Douglas E. Rosenau, „The Celebration of Sex”. Această carte este scrisă dintr-o perspectivă creştină, şi bogată în informaţie. Diferenţele emoţionale arată unicitatea bărbatului şi a femeii.

Relaţia sexuală poate fi afectată destul de mult din cauza atitudinii unuia faţă de sex. Această atitudine a fost influenţată de modul în care au crescut, de educaţie, de experienţe şi de societate. Mintea ne este de fapt primul organ sexual. O relaţie sexuală împlinită sau mediocră depinde cel mai mult de atitudinea ta. De cele mai multe ori, bărbaţii sunt mai perceptivi vizual şi mai predispuşi să aibă contact sexual decât femeile. Femeile sunt în general mai romantice şi au nevoie de mai mult preludiu. De multe ori sexul devine frustrant pentru cupluri din cauza acestor diferenţe.

Cunoaşterea întocmirii emoţionale a partenerului tău – temerile, aşteptările etc. poate aduce mai multă împlinire experienţelor sexuale. Comunicarea, este importantă atât pentru căsătorie în general, cât şi pentru o viaţă sexuală reuşită. „Şoaptele care spun nimicuri” pot să însemne ceva. Stimularea sexuală în fond este parţial verbală. La fel de mult ca o atingere fizică intenţionată poate avea efect a-l lăuda pe partener, a-i aduce complimente, a-l încuraja şi a-i fi recunoscător. Căutaţi să vorbiţi despre ceea ce vă place şi ceea ce nu vă place. Nu trebuie să fiţi inhibaţi pentru a-i spune soţiei sau soţului ce anume aţi dori să facă, ce anume îi place.

Criticismul sau reţinerile sexuale/faptul de a nu spune adevărul, nu vă vor ajuta în nici un fel să vă atingeţi scopurile în eros. Experienţele de dinainte de căsătorie pot afecta negativ relaţia sexuală în căsătorie. Dumnezeu a hotărât exclusivitatea raporturilor sexuale în limitele căsătoriei; planul diavolului este să distrugă unitatea prin concubinaj, adulter sau alt păcat sexual. Multe relaţii sexuale au fost afectate de lucrurile ascunse sau problemele privind poftele trupeşti, pornografia sau fanteziile.

Fiecare are nevoie să se împace cu Dumnezeu şi cu partenerul său de viaţă. Mărturisirea şi pocăinţa sunt calea lui Dumnezeu înspre eliberare. Chiar dacă partenerul tău a avut experienţe sexuale înainte de căsătorie, fiecare trebuie să vă cereţi iertare, să mărturisiţi păcatul şi să-I cereţi iertare lui Dumnezeu. Primiţi iertarea prin sângele lui Isus şi luaţi-o de la capăt. Feriţi-vă de a vă aduce în minte escapadele sexuale din trecut. Lăsaţi în urmă trecutul şi mergeţi înainte în curăţia şi sfinţenia planului lui Dumnezeu. Creativitatea poate menţine în formă impulsurile sexuale.

Un creştin trebuie să fie atent şi să nu fie câştigat de felul în care lumea înţelege satisfacţia sexuală. Voi nu sunteţi în nici o competiţie cu nimeni. Experimentarea diferitelor poziţii sau locul şi momentul când faceţi dragoste pot fi o terapie bună care să rupă monotonia. Planificarea unei ieşiri, o cină la lumina lumânărilor, o baie cu clăbuci în doi, un masaj, o haină din piele, cumpărarea unei noi lenjerii poate fi exact ceea ce are nevoie relaţia voastră. Igiena este parte importantă în a vă face doriţi de partener. În timpul curtării, cei mai mulţi depun eforturi continue ca să arate bine, să miroasă şi să se simtă bine. A face impresie bună era prioritatea majoră. Mulţi soţi au rămas uimiţi când, la scurt timp după căsătorie, spuma de baie, folosirea deodorantelor, a parfumurilor, a apelor de colonie şi curăţarea hainelor parcă şi-au luat zborul.

A te menţine în formă fizică nu sună numai pentru necăsătoriţi sau pentru tineri. Este un lucru foarte bun ca partenerul tău să arate bine. Altruismul este probabil cel mai important ingredient pentru a avea o viaţă sexuală fericită, sănătoasă şi împlinită. „Iubiţi-vă unii pe alţii cu o dragoste frăţească, în cinste, fiecare să dea întâietate altuia” (Romani 12:10). O relaţie sexuală excelentă este posibilă când renunţi la propriile tale dorinţe – când gândurile tale se concentrează asupra: „Cum să-i plac soţului sau soţiei mele? Cum pot face ca această experienţă să-l mulţumească şi să-i facă plăcere?” începeţi prin a-L ruga pe Duhul Sfânt să vă arate în ce domenii sunteţi egoişti.

Urmăriţi propria voastră cale sau vă îmbufnaţi când lucrurile nu vă plac? Aţi putea să nu vă pese dacă soţul sau soţia sunt satisfăcuţi la fel de mult ca voi înşivă? Atunci întrebaţi-L pe Duhul Sfânt cum puteţi face pe plac soţiei sau soţului. S-ar putea să vă miraţi: „Oare mi-ar spune Duhul Sfânt aşa ceva?” Bineînţeles că da. El este Cel care vă conduce în TOT adevărul. El este preocupat de orice aspect al relaţiei de căsătorie.

AGAPE este dragostea lui Dumnezeu. Este dragostea prin care un Tată Şi-ar sacrifica propriul Fiu pentru folosul altora. Este dragostea care iartă tot ce se face împotriva ei. Este dragostea care acoperă greşelile altora. Este dragostea în înţeles deplin, dragostea lui Dumnezeu împărtăşită cu creaţia Sa. Isus spune că ceea ce-i va deosebi pe urmaşii Săi de ceilalţi va fi dragostea. Această dragoste care trebuie să fie parte a vieţii fiecărui credincios trebuie să înceapă acasă. „Trăiţi în dragoste, după cum şi Cristos ne-a iubit şi S-a dat pe Sine pentru noi „ca un prinos şi ca o jertfă de bun miros” lui Dumnezeu” (Efeseni 5:2). Dragostea pe care Dumnezeu o împărtăşeşte cu noi este darul Fiului Său, dragoste pe care Cristos a dovedit-o prin darul Vieţii Sale, care este valabil pentru noi toţi. Noi suntem îndemnaţi în Efeseni 5:25 să iubim cu intensitatea dragostei lui Cristos.

„Bărbaţilor, iubiţi-vă nevestele cum a iubit şi Cristos Biserica şi S-a dat pe Sine pentru ea” (Efes.5:25). în cartea sa, Am iubit o fată, Walter Trobisch scrie despre semnificaţia cuvântului „dragoste”: Te iubesc. Vreau să spun pe tine şi numai pe tine. Tu vei domni în inima mea. Tu eşti aleasa după care am tânjit; fără tine sunt incomplet. Am să dau totul pentru tine şi am să renunţ la totul pentru tine, la mine însumi şi la tot ce am. Am să trăiesc numai pentru tine, şi am să muncesc numai pentru tine, şi am să te aştept; nu contează cât de mult. Am să fiu întotdeauna răbdător cu tine şi n-am să te forţez în nici un fel, nici măcar prin cuvinte. Vreau să-mi împărtăşesc cu tine gândurile, inima, trupul – tot ce am eu. Nu vreau să încep nimic fără binecuvântarea ta. Vreau să rămân întotdeauna alături de tine.

Teme de casă:

Ce spun următoarele texte din Scriptură în legătură cu dragostea?
1. Matei 6:24
2. Luca 6:27-35
3. Luca 10:25-37
4. Romani 13:8-10
5. Romani 14:15
6. 1 Corinteni 8:1
7. Galateni 5:13
8. Galateni 6:2
9. Efeseni 4:2
10. Efeseni 5:2 

Urmeaza Part 5 – Rolul sotului si al sotiei

Jonathan Edwards – The Precious Importance of Time and the Importance of Redeeming it

„Holy and humble Christian love, is a principle of wonderful power to give ineffable quietness and tranquillity to the soul. It banishes all disturbance, and sweetly composes and brings rest to the spirit, and makes all divinely calm and sweet and happy. In that soul where divine love reigns and is in lively exercise, nothing can cause a storm, or even gather threatening clouds.”
-Jonathan Edwards

„Redeeming the time.” (Ephesians 5:16)

Christians should not only study to improve the opportunities they enjoy, for their own advantage, as those who would make a good bargain; but also labor to reclaim others from their evil courses; that so God might defer his anger, and time might be redeemed from that terrible destruction, which, when it should come, would put an end to the time of divine patience. And it may be upon this account, that this reason is added, „Because the days are evil.” As if the apostle had said, the corruption of the times tends to hasten threatened judgments, but your holy and circumspect walk will tend to redeem time from the devouring jaws of those calamities. However, thus much is certainly held forth to us in the words- That upon time we should set a high value, and be exceeding careful that it be not lost; and we are therefore exhorted to exercise wisdom and circumspection, in order that we may redeem it. And hence it appears, that you is exceedingly precious.

SECTION 1 Why time is precious
Time is precious for the following reasons:
1. Because a happy or miserable eternity depends on the good or ill improvement of it. Things are precious in proportion to their importance, or to the degree wherein they concern our welfare. Men set the highest value on those things upon which they are sensible their interest chiefly depends. And this renders time so exceedingly precious, because our eternal welfare depends on the improvement of it. Indeed our welfare in this world depends upon its improvement. If we improve it not, we shall be in danger of coming to poverty and disgrace. But by a good improvement of it, we may obtain those things which will be useful and comfortable. But it is above all things precious, as our state through eternity depends upon it. The importance of the improvement of time upon other accounts, is in subordination to this.

Gold and silver are esteemed precious by men; but they are of no worth to any man, only as thereby he has an opportunity of avoiding or removing some evil, or of possessing himself of some good. And the greater the evil is which any man has advantage to escape, or the good which he has advantage to obtain, by any thing that he possesses, by so much the greater is the value of that thing to him, whatever it be. Thus if a man, by any thing which he has, may save his life, which he must lose without it, he will look upon that by which he has the opportunity of escaping so great an evil as death, to be very precious. Hence it is that time is so exceedingly precious, because by it we have opportunity of escaping everlasting misery, and of obtaining everlasting blessedness and glory. On this depends our escape from an infinite evil, and our attainment of an infinite good.

2. Time is very short, which is another thing that renders it very precious. The scarcity of any commodity occasions men to set a higher value upon it, especially if it be necessary and they cannot do without it. Thus when Samaria was besieged by the Syrians, and provisions were exceedingly scarce, „a donkey’s head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a cab of dove’s dung for five pieces of silver.” 2 Kings 6:25. So time is the more to be prized by men, because a whole eternity depends upon it, and yet we have but a little of time. „When a few years are come, then I shall go the way whence I shall not return.” (Job 16:22.) „My days are swifter than a runner. They are passed away as the swift ships, as the eagle that hastens to the prey.” Job 9:25, 26. „Our life, what is it? it is but a vapor which appears for a little time, and then vanishes away.” James 4:14. It is but as a moment to eternity. Time is so short, and the work which we have to do in it is so great, that we have none of it to spare. The work which we have to do to prepare for eternity must be done in time, or it never can be done; and it is found to be a work of great difficulty and labor, and therefore that for which time is the more requisite.

3. Time ought to be esteemed by us very precious, because we are uncertain of its continuance. We know that it is very short, but we know not how short. We know not how little of it remains, whether a year, or several years, or only a month, a week, or a day. We are every day uncertain whether that day will not be the last, or whether we are to have the whole day. There is nothing that experience does more verify than this. If a man had but little provision laid up for a journey or a voyage, and at the same time knew that if his provision should fail, he must perish by the way, he would treasure it all the more. How much more would many men prize their time if they knew that they had but a few months, or a few days, more to live! And certainly a wise man will prize his time the more, as he knows not how much he has himself. This is the case with multitudes now in the world, who at present enjoy health, and see no signs of approaching death: many such, no doubt, are to die the next month, many the next week, yes, many probably tomorrow, and some this night; yet these same persons know nothing of it, and perhaps think nothing of it, and neither they nor their neighbors can say that they are more likely soon to be taken out of the world than others. This teaches us how we ought to prize our time, and how careful we ought to be, that we lose none of it.

4. Time is very precious, because when it is past, it cannot be recovered. There are many things which men possess which if they part with, they can obtain them again. If a man has parted with something which he had, not knowing the worth of it, or the need he should have of it; he often can regain it, at least with pains and cost. If a man has been taken in a bargain, and has bartered away or sold something, and afterwards repents of it, he may often obtain a release, and recover what he had parted with. But it is not so with respect to time; when once that is gone, it is gone forever; no pains, no cost will recover it. Though we repent ever so much that we let it pass, and did not improve it while we had it, it will be to no purpose. Every part of it is successively offered to us, that we may choose whether we will make it our own, or not. But there is no delay; it will not wait upon us to see whether or no we will comply with the offer. But if we refuse, it is immediately taken away, and never offered more. As to that part of time which is gone, however we have neglected to improve it, it is out of our possession and out of our reach.

If we have lived fifty, or sixty, or seventy years, and have not improved our time, now it cannot be helped- it is eternally gone from us. All that we can do, is to improve the little that remains. Yes, if a man have spent all his life but a few moments unimproved, all that is gone is lost, and only those few remaining moments can possibly be made his own, and if the whole of a man’s time be gone, and it be all lost, it is irrecoverable.

Eternity depends on the improvement of time; but when once the time of life is gone, when once death is come, we have no more to do with time, there is no possibility of obtaining the restoration of it, or another space in which to prepare for eternity. If a man should lose the whole of his worldly substance, and become a bankrupt, it is possible that his loss may be made up. He may have another estate as good. But when the time of life is gone, it is impossible that we should ever obtain another such time. All opportunity of obtaining eternal welfare is utterly and everlastingly gone.

SECTION 2 Reflections on time past. You have now heard of the preciousness of time; and you are the persons concerned, to whom God has committed that precious talent. You have an eternity before you. When God created you, and gave you reasonable soul- he made you for an endless duration. He gave you time here in order to prepare for eternity, and your future eternity depends on the improvement of time. Consider, therefore, what you have done with your past time. You are not now beginning your time, but a great deal is past and gone; and all the wit, and power, and treasure of the universe, cannot recover it. Many of you may well conclude, that more than half of your time is gone; though you should live to the ordinary age of man, your glass is more than half run out; and it may be there are but few sands remaining. Your sun is past the meridian, and perhaps just setting, or going into an everlasting eclipse. Consider, therefore, what account you can give of your improvement of past time. How have you let the precious golden sands of your glass run?

Every day that you have enjoyed has been precious; yes, your moments have been precious. But have you not wasted your precious moments, your precious days, yes your precious years? If you should reckon up how many days you have lived, what a sum would there be! and how precious has every one of those days been! Consider, therefore, what have you done with them? What is become of them all? What can you show of any improvement made, or good done, or benefit obtained which is answerable to all this time which you have lived? When you look back, and search, do you not find this past time of your lives in a great measure empty, having not been filled up with any good improvement? And if God, that has given you your time, should now call you to an account, what account could you give to him?

How much may be done in a year! how much good is there opportunity to do in such a space of time! How much service may persons do for God, and how much for their own souls, if to their utmost they improve it! How much may be done in a day! But what have you done in so many days and years that you have lived? What have you done with the whole time of your youth, you that are past your youth? What is become of all that precious season of life? Has it not all been in barren to you? Would it not have been as well or better for you, if all that time you had been asleep, or in a state of non-existence?

You have had much time of leisure and freedom from worldly business; consider to what purpose you have spent it. You have not only had ordinary time, but you have had a great deal of holy time. What have you done with all the sabbath-days which you have enjoyed? Consider those things seriously, and let your own consciences make answer.

SECTION 3 Who are chiefly deserving of reproof from the subject of the preciousness of time.
How little is the preciousness of time considered, and how little sense of it do the greater part of mankind seem to have! And to how little good purpose do many spend their time! There is nothing more precious, and yet nothing of which men are more wasteful. Time is with many, as silver was in the days of Solomon- as the stones of the street, and nothing accounted of. They act as if time were as plenty as silver was then, and as if they had a great deal more than they needed, and knew not what to do with it. If men were as lavish with their money as they are of their time, if it were as common a thing for them to throw away their money, as it is for them to throw away their time, we should think them beside themselves, and not in the possession of their right minds. Yet time is a thousand times more precious than money; and when it is gone, cannot be purchased for money, cannot be redeemed by silver or gold. There are several sorts of persons who are reproved by this doctrine, whom I shall particularly mention.

1. Those who spend a great part of their time in idleness, or in doing nothing that turns to any virtuous account, either for the good of their souls or bodies; nothing either for their own benefit, or for the benefit of their neighbor, either of the family or of the neighborhood to which they belong. There are some persons upon whose hands time seems to lie heavy, who, instead of being concerned to improve it as it passes, and taking care that it pass not without making it their own, act as if it were rather their concern to contrive ways how to waste and consume it; as though time, instead of being precious, rather a mere encumbrance to them. Their hands refuse to labor, and rather than put themselves to it, they will let their families suffer, and will suffer themselves:
„An idle soul shall suffer hunger.” (Proverbs 19:15.) „Drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.” (Proverbs 22:21.)

Some spend much of their time at the tavern, over their cups, and in wandering about from house to house, wasting away their hours in idle and unprofitable talk which will turn to no good account. Proverbs 14:23. „In all labor there is profit; but the talk of the lips tends only to poverty.” The direction of the apostle, in Ephesians 4:28 is, that we should „labor, working with our hands the thing that is good, that we may have to give to him that needs.” But indolent men, instead of gaining any thing to give to him that needs, do but waste what they have already- „He that is slothful in his work, is brother to him that is a great waster.” (Proverbs 18:9.)

2. They are reproved by this doctrine who spend their time in wickedness, who do not merely spend their time in doing nothing to any good purpose, but spend it to ill purposes. Such do not only lose their time, but they do worse; with it they hurt both themselves and others. Time is precious, as we have heard, because eternity depends upon it. By the improvement of time, we have opportunity of escaping eternal misery, and obtaining eternal blessedness. But those who spend their time in wicked works, not only neglect to improve their time to obtain eternal happiness, or to escape damnation, but they spend it to a quite contrary purpose- to increase their eternal misery, or to render their damnation the more heavy and intolerable.

Some spend much time in reveling, and in unclean talk and practices, in vicious company-keeping, in corrupting and ensnaring the minds of others, setting bad examples, and leading others into sin, undoing not only their own souls, but the souls of others. Some spend much of their precious time in detraction and backbiting; in talking against others; in contention, not only quarreling themselves, but fomenting and stirring up strife and contention. It would have been well for some men, and well for their neighbors, if they had never done any thing at all; for then they would have done neither good nor hurt. But now they have done a great deal more hurt than they have done or ever will do good. There are some persons whom it would have been better for the towns where they live, to have been at the charge of maintaining them in doing nothing, if that would have kept them in a state of inactivity.

Those who have spent much of their time in wickedness, if ever they shall reform, and enter upon a different mode of living, will find, not only that they have wasted the past, but that they have made work for their remaining time, to undo what they have done. How will many men when they shall be with time, and shall look back upon their past lives, wish that they had had no time! The time which they spend on earth will be worse to them than if they had spent so much time in hell, for an eternity of more dreadful misery in hell will be the fruit of their time on earth, as they employ it.

3. Those are reproved by his doctrine, who spend their time only in worldly pursuits, neglecting their souls. Such men lose their time, let them be ever so diligent in their worldly business, and though they may be careful not to let any of it pass so, but that it shall some way or other turn to their worldly profit. They that improve time only for their benefit in time, lose it, because time was not given for itself, but for that everlasting duration which succeeds it. They, therefore, whose time is taken up in caring and laborings for the world only, in inquiring what they shall eat, and what they shall drink and wherewithal they shall be clothed, in contriving to lay up for themselves treasures upon earth, how to enrich themselves, how to make themselves great in the world, or how to live in comfortable and pleasant circumstances, while here, who busy their minds and employ their strength in these things only, and the stream of whose affections is directed towards these things; they lose their precious time.

Let such, therefore, as have been guilty of thus spending their time, consider it. You have spent a great part of your time, and a great part of your strength, in getting a little of the world; and how little good does it afford you, now you have gotten it! What happiness or satisfaction can you reap from it? Will it give you peace of conscience, or any rational quietness or comfort? What is your poor, needy, perishing soul the better for it? and what better prospects does it afford you of your approaching eternity? and what will all that you have acquired avail you when time shall be no longer?

SECTION 4 An exhortation to improve time.
Consider what has been said of the preciousness of time, how much depends upon it, how short and uncertain it is, how irrecoverable it will be when gone. If you have a right conception of these things, you will be more treasuring of your time than of the most fine gold. Every hour and moment will seem precious to you. But besides those considerations which have been already set before you, consider also the following.

1. That you are accountable to God for your time. Time is a talent given us by God; he has allotted us our day; and it is not for nothing- our day was appointed for some work; therefore he will, at the day’s end, call us to an account. We must give account to him of the improvement of all our time. We are God’s servants; as a servant is accountable to his master, how he spends his time when he is sent forth to work, so are we accountable to God. If men would consider this aright, and keep it in mind, would they not improve their time otherwise than they do? Would you not behave otherwise than you do, if you considered with yourselves every morning, that you must give an account to God, how you shall have spent that day? and if you considered with yourselves, at the beginning of every evening, that you must give an account to God, how you shall have spent that evening? Christ has told us, that „for every idle word which men speak, they shall give account in the day of judgment,” Matthew 12:36. How well, therefore, may we conclude, that we must give an account of all our idle misspent time!

2. Consider how much time you have lost already. For your having lost so much, you have the greater need of diligently improving what yet remains. You ought to mourn and lament over your lost time; but that is not all, you must apply yourselves the more diligently to improve the remaining part, that you may redeem lost time. You who are considerably advanced in age, and have hitherto spent your time in vanities and worldly cares, and have lived in a great measure negligent of the interests of your souls, may well be terrified and amazed, when you think how much time you have lost and wasted away. In that you have lost so much time, you have the more need of diligence, on three accounts.

(1.) As your opportunity is so much the shorter. Your time at its whole length is short. But set aside all that you have already lost, and then how much shorter is it! As to that part of your time which you have already lost, it is not to be reckoned into your opportunity; for that will never be any more, and it is no better, but worse to you, than if it never had been.

(2.) You have the same work to do that you had at first, and that under greater difficulties. Hitherto you have done nothing at all of your work- all remains to be done, and that with vastly greater difficulties and opposition in your way than would have been if you had set about it seasonably. So that the time in which to do your work is not only grown shorter, but your work is grown greater. You not only have the same work to do, but you have more work, for while you have lost your time, you have not only shortened it, but you have been making more work for yourselves. How well may this consideration awaken you to a thorough care, not to let things run on in this manner any longer, and rouse you up immediately to apply yourselves to your work with all your might!

(3.) That is the best of your time which you have lost. The first of a man’s time, after he comes to the exercise of his reason, and to be capable of performing his work, is the best. You who have lived in sin until past your youth have lost the best part. So that here are all these things to be considered together- that your time in the whole is but short, there is none to spare, a great part of that is gone, so that it is become much shorter; that which is gone is the best part, yet all your work remains, and not only so, but with greater difficulties than ever before attended it and the shorter your time is, the more work you have to do.

What will make you sensible of the necessity of a diligent improvement of remaining time, if these things will not? Sometimes such considerations as these have another effect- to discourage persons, and to make them think that seeing they have lost so much time, it is not worth their while to attempt to do any thing now. The devil makes fools of them for when they are young, he tells them, there is time enough hereafter, there is no need of being in haste, it will be better seeking salvation hereafter and then they believe him. Afterwards, when their youth is past, he tells them, that now they have lost so much, and the best of their time, that it is not worth their while to attempt to do anything, and now they believe him still. So that with them no time is good. The season of youth is not a good time, for that is most fit for pleasure and mirth, and there will be enough afterwards- and what comes afterwards is not a good time because the best of it is gone. Thus are men infatuated and ruined.

But what madness is it for persons to give way to discouragement, so as to neglect their work, because their time is short! What need have they rather to awake out of sleep, thoroughly to rouse up themselves, and to be in good seriousness that if possible they may yet obtain eternal life! Peradventure God may yet give them repentance to the acknowledgment of the truth, that they may be saved. Though it be late in the day, yet God calls upon you to rouse, and to apply yourselves to your work; and will you not hearken to his counsel in this great affair, rather than to the counsel of your mortal enemy?

3. Consider how time is sometimes valued by those who are come near to the end of it. What a sense of its preciousness have poor sinners sometimes, when they are on their death-beds! Such have cried out, „O, a thousand worlds for an inch of time!” Then time appears to them indeed precious. An inch of time could do them no more good than before, when they were in health, supposing a like disposition to improve it, nor indeed so much; for a man’s time upon a death-bed is attended with far greater disadvantage for such an improvement as will be for the good of his soul, than when he is in health. But the near approach of death makes men sensible of the inestimable worth of time. Perhaps, when they were in health, they were as insensible of its value as you are, and were as negligent of it. But how are their thoughts altered now! It is not because they are deceived, that they think time to be of such value, but because their eyes are opened; and it is because you are deceived and blind that you do not think as they do.

4. Consider what a value we may conclude is set upon time by those who are past the end of it. What thoughts do you think they have of its preciousness, who have lost all their opportunity for obtaining eternal life, and are gone to hell? Through they were very lavish of their time while they lived, and set no great value upon it; yet how have they changed their perspectives! How would they value the opportunity which you have, if they might but have it granted to them! What would they not give for one of your days, under the means of grace! So will you, either now or at the last, be convinced. But if you be not convinced except in the manner in which they are, it will be too late.

Revelation 10:5-6 ..there shall be time no longer

There are two ways of making men sensible of the preciousness of time. One is, by showing them the reason why it must be precious, by telling them how much depends on it, how short it is, how uncertain, etc. The other is experience, wherein men are convinced how much depends on the improvement of time. The latter is the most effectual way; for that always convinces, if nothing else does. But if persons be not convinced by the former means, the latter will do them no good. If the former be ineffectual, the latter, though it be certain, yet is always too late. Experience never fails to open the eyes of men, though they were never opened before. But if they be first opened by that, it is no way to their benefit. Let all therefore be persuaded to improve their time to their utmost.

SECTION 5
Advice respecting the improvement of time. I shall conclude with advising to three things in particular.
1. Improve the present time without any delay. If you delay and put off its improvement, still more time will be lost, and it will be an evidence that you are not sensible of its preciousness. Do not talk of more convenient seasons hereafter, but improve your time while you have it, after the example of the psalmist, „I made haste, and delayed not to keep your commandments.” (Psalm 119:60.)

2. Be especially careful to improve those parts of time which are most precious. Though all time is very precious, yet some parts are more precious than others; as, particularly, holy time is more precious than common time. Such time is of great advantage for our everlasting welfare; therefore, above all, improve your sabbaths, and especially the time of public worship, which is the most precious part. Lose it not either in sleep, or in carelessness, inattention, or wandering imaginations. How sottish are they who waste away, not only their common, but holy time, yes the very season of attendance on the holy ordinances of God! The time of youth is precious on many accounts. Therefore, if you are in the enjoyment of this time, take heed that you improve it. Let not the precious days and years of youth slip away without improvement. A time of the strivings of God’s Spirit is more precious than other time. Then God is near; and we are directed, in Isaiah 55:6. „To seek the Lord while he may be found, and to call upon him while he is near.” Such especially is an accepted time, and a day of salvation- 2 Corinthians 6:2. „I have heard you in a time accepted, and in a day of salvation have I succored you: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

3. Improve well your time of leisure from worldly business. Many persons have a great deal of such time, and all have some. If men be but disposed to it, such time may be improved to great advantage. When we are most free from cares for the body, and business of an outward nature, a happy opportunity for the soul is afforded. Therefore spend not such opportunities unprofitably, nor in such a manner that you will not be able to give a good account thereof to God. Waste them not away wholly in unprofitable visits, or useless diversions or amusements. Diversion should be used only in subserviency to business. So much, and no more, should be used, as does most fit the mind and body for the work of our general and particular callings.

You have need to improve every talent, advantage, and opportunity, to your utmost, while time lasts; for it will soon be said concerning you, according to the oath of the angel, in Revelation 10:5, 6.

„And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, and swore by him that lives for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer.”

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