“Quick: what’s your most valuable asset?”
So the commercial begins. Their answer corrects the typical answers: house, 401K, savings account. Instead, they assert, our most valuable asset is time. Their argument for the product was they know how to leverage time to give us a maximum return on our investment for retirement.
Biblically, this is fairly accurate. Mortally speaking, our most valuable asset is time. We can’t make any more and once we spend our 24 hours today, they’re gone forever. It can’t be borrowed, stolen, or recycled.
And there are many who spend their entire time grasping at financial independence they hope will come “someday”. Sometimes at the expense of today’s living, they claw, grasp, take, and acquire so they can have wealth one day when their time comes.
King Solomon, an extremely wealthy man in his day, had this to say in Ecclesiastes 6:1-6:
1 I have seen another evil under the sun, and it weighs heavily on mankind: 2 God gives some people wealth, possessions and honor, so that they lack nothing their hearts desire, but God does not grant them the ability to enjoy them, and strangers enjoy them instead. This is meaningless, a grievous evil. 3 A man may have a hundred children and live many years; yet no matter how long he lives, if he cannot enjoy his prosperity and does not receive proper burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. 4 It comes without meaning, it departs in darkness, and in darkness its name is shrouded. 5 Though it never saw the sun or knew anything, it has more rest than does that man—6 even if he lives a thousand years twice over but fails to enjoy his prosperity. Do not all go to the same place?
How often have we read of stories where people saved for retirement only to suffer a health tragedy or become somehow incapacitated so that the plans they had for their “golden years” become “tin realities”? It’s angering when someone’s retirement is robbed by any means.
To have “wealth, possessions and honor” (verse 2) but not have the ability to utilize them renders these things worthless. We’re better off not having them because they will do us no good.
We can have all this life offers and if we fail to learn how to enjoy what we have, we’re not really living at all. It’s like the old expression, “He who dies with the most toys still dies.” This didn’t originate in the 1990s…it originated with God and was expressed by Solomon.
Although the overtones are present throughout Ecclesiastes, King Solomon comes right out and pokes us in the eye with this one: apart from God, we can’t truly enjoy what we have. He’s the One teaching us to enjoy the life we are given.
This is why greed is ultimately self-defeating: we’ll never have enough and be miserable with what we have because we’ll always be craving more. No pleasure. No contentment. No peace. Just anxiety, worry, and exhausting drive to grab a little bit more. What kind of “life” is that?!?
Warren Wiersbe summarized it well in Be Satisfied (Victor Books, 1996, pgs. 74-75): “Enjoyment without God is merely entertainment, and it doesn’t satisfy. But enjoyment with God is enrichment and it brings true joy and satisfaction.”
How do we move from the obsessive drive for more to contentment with what we have while maintaining a healthy work ethic? After all, laziness is not the point Solomon makes nor is he advocating living with our proverbial heads in the sand and ignore the fact that we must save for retirement, rainy days, and seasons of “slim pickings”.
- Recognize greed for what it is: idolatry. It’s putting something else before God. He knows your need and He knows what you can handle. Greed gets you nowhere. Again, it’s self-defeating.
- Recognize what you actually have. Do you have food in the pantry? Do you go to restaurants sometimes? Is your car running at the moment—do you own a car? Are you healthy? Do have clothes to wear? If you answer “yes” to most of these questions, you already have a lot more than most.
- Recognize the temporary nature of our wealth. What we have is because someone else gave it up. What we have will eventually be someone else’s. All we have as God’s people is a gift from Him. Even the ability to work is a gift of health and ability from Him. Ultimately, this measly 80-100 year existence we “live” on this rock called Earth is so excruciatingly and laughably temporary compared to eternity. We must always ensure we evaluate our wealth in light of forever.
Therefore, yes: time is your most valuable asset. The Lord calls us to save for the unknown. He also calls us to redeem the time. And he calls us to live in the time we have today.