The Value of Time

The Value of Time

Psalm 90 says, “as for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years, yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; for soon it is gone and we fly away … So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.”

Understanding the value of time is key to living with a heart of wisdom before God. I recently read an article in Popular Mechanics about a new transatlantic fiber-optic cable being laid across the ocean floor from London to New York. It will take over 10 years and cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. This gigantic undertaking has one purpose—to make stock market trades 5 milliseconds faster.

You see, most stock transactions these days are triggered automatically by algorithms when a certain stock reaches a certain price. But transactions are handled in the order in which the exchange actually receives them. If a thousand algorithms all watching the same stock send a signal to “sell” at the same moment, the one received by the exchange first will be processed first. If one of those signals could travel just a little faster, it would be processed at the front of the line, making a big difference in actual stock price and thereby increasing the profits (or reducing the losses).

There is already a transatlantic fiber-optic cable in use. But the new cable will take a straighter path around Halifax, Nova Scotia, shaving off 310 miles. Light takes about one millisecond to travel 62 miles of cable. Thus, the new cable, when completed, will send trade signals that beat the competing firms by .005 seconds, totally justifying the expense of construction. 

This story, in a stunning way, illustrates the worth of time. I’m not sure a span of time could be any more valuable than these five thousandths of a second to a greedy stock trader. But time itself is a valuable commodity, and should be used wisely. Jesus pointed out, “We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4). Once time is spent it cannot be regained. “You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). 

To realize the value of one year: Ask a student who has failed a final exam and will get no credit for a class.

To realize the value of one month: Ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.

To realize the value of one week: Ask an editor of a Sunday newspaper facing a deadline.

To realize the value of one day: Ask a construction worker who has five kids to feed and doesn’t get paid when taking a sick day.

To realize the value of one hour: Ask a guy who is running late to meet his sweetheart for dinner. 

To realize the value of one minute: Ask a commuter who has missed the train.

To realize the value of one second: Ask a driver who has narrowly avoided a serious car accident.

To realize the value of a fraction of a second: Ask a sprinter who has settled for the silver medal in the Olympics. 

Time waits for no one. Treasure every moment you have, as a gift from God. Balance work and worship and family and play. “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity” (Colossians 4:5). Put God first, and be saved without delay, because it is not promised that we will see tomorrow. Take seriously your opportunities to serve God, for “now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

--John Guzzetta