1. A TALENT FOR EVERYONE
a. Even in the fast-paced era in which we live, what does God mercifully provide—and why? Ecclesiastes 3:1.
“Our time belongs to God. Every moment is His, and we are under the most solemn obligation to improve it to His glory. Of no talent He has given will He require a more strict account than of our time. . . .
“We have but a few days of probation in which to prepare for eternity. We have no time to waste, no time to devote to selfish pleasure, no time for the indulgence of sin. It is now that we are to form characters for the future, immortal life. It is now that we are to prepare for the searching judgment.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 342.
b. What factors should we take into consideration as we plan our use of time? James 4:13–15.
“The shortness of time demands an energy that has not been aroused among those who claim to believe the present truth.”—Counsels on Health, p. 506.
“If all would use their time to the best account, very much means would be saved to the cause of truth. When the heart is in the work, it will be done with earnestness, energy, and dispatch.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 451.
2. PRUDENCE AND VIGILANCE
a. In seeking to advance God’s work, what must we realize? 1 Peter 5:8; Revelation 12:12.
“We have no time to lose. The powers of darkness are working with intense energy, and with stealthy tread Satan is advancing to take those who are now asleep, as a wolf taking his prey. We have warnings now which we may give, a work now which we may do, but soon it will be more difficult than we imagine.”—Evangelism, p. 218.
“Oh! we must be terribly in earnest to impress upon every soul that there is a heaven to win and a hell to shun. Every energy of the soul must be aroused to force their passage and seize the kingdom by force. Satan is active, and we must be active too. Satan is untiring and persevering, and we must be the same. There is no time to make excuses and blame others for our backslidings; no time now to flatter the soul [that] if circumstances had only been more favorable, how much better, how much easier [it would be] for us to work the works of God. We must tell even those who profess to believe in Christ, that they must cease to offend God by sinful excuses.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 12, p. 336.
b. What does Inspiration teach about the struggle before us? Ephesians 6:12; Matthew 24:13.
“In consideration of the shortness of time we as a people should watch and pray, and in no case allow ourselves to be diverted from the solemn work of preparation for the great event before us. Because the time is apparently extended, many have become careless and indifferent in regard to their words and actions. They do not realize their danger and do not see and understand the mercy of our God in lengthening their probation, that they may have time to form characters for the future, immortal life. Every moment is of the highest value. Time is granted them, not to be employed in studying their own ease and becoming dwellers on the earth, but to be used in the work of overcoming every defect in their own characters and in helping others, by example and personal effort, to see the beauty of holiness.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, pp. 306, 307.
“With intensified zeal and energy we are to carry forward the work of the Lord till the close of time.”—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 548.
3. RESOURCES MADE USEFUL
a. What are some points that our Master wants us to understand about the various talents entrusted to us? Luke 19:13.
“However large, however small the possessions of any individual, let him remember that it is his only in trust. For his strength, skill, time, talents, opportunities, and means, he must render an account to God. This is an individual work; God gives to us, that we may become like Him, generous, noble, beneficent, by giving to others. Those who, forgetful of their divine mission, seek only to save or to spend in the indulgence of pride or selfishness, may secure the gains and pleasures of this world; but in God’s sight, estimated by their spiritual attainments, they are poor, wretched, miserable, blind, naked.”—Counsels on Stewardship, p. 22.
“I cannot find an instance in the life of Christ where He devoted time to play and amusement. He was the great educator for the present and the future life; yet I have not been able to find one instance where He taught the disciples to engage in amusement in order to gain physical exercise. The world’s Redeemer gives to every man his work and bids him, ‘Occupy till I come’ (Luke 19:13). In doing this, the heart warms to the enterprise. All the powers of the being are enlisted in the effort to obey. We have a high and holy calling.”—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 309.
b. What should we learn from Solomon’s experience? Ecclesiastes 2:10, 11.
“We must turn away from a thousand topics that invite attention. There are matters that consume time and arouse inquiry but end in nothing. The highest interests demand the close attention and energy that are so often given to comparatively insignificant things.”—The Ministry of Healing, p. 456.
“Let the people see that you have a mind for usefulness and duty, and that to the saving of the soul. The amusements that consume time, just to gratify self, do not pay.”—Medical Ministry, p. 82.
“The energy now concentrated on cheap, perishable goods should be enlisted in the work that is to enlighten the world. Let every energy God has given be used in the work which bears with it the blessed satisfaction that it is for time and for eternity.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 6, p. 267.
4. A PURCHASED POSSESSION
a. Why is the attitude of the foolish rich man a warning for us? Luke 12:16–21.
“There is a sad withholding from God on the part of His professed people. The means and efforts that should be given to Christ are devoted to self-pleasing. God is robbed of time, money, and service. Self-love, self-gratification, exclude the love of Jesus from the soul, and this is why there is not in the church greater zeal and more fervent love for Him who first loved us.”—The Signs of the Times, December 22, 1890.
“Men act as though they were bereft of their reason. They are buried up in the cares of this life. They have no time to devote to God, no time to serve Him. Work, work, work, is the order of the day. All about them are required to labor upon the high-pressure plan, to take care of large farms. To tear down and build greater is their ambition, that they may have wherewith to bestow their goods. Yet these very men who are weighed down with their riches pass for Christ’s followers. They have the name of believing that Christ is soon to come, that the end of all things is at hand; yet they have no spirit of sacrifice. They are plunging deeper and deeper into the world. They allow themselves but little time to study the word of life and to meditate and pray. Neither do they give others in their family, or those who serve them, this privilege. Yet these men profess to believe that this world is not their home, that they are merely pilgrims and strangers upon the earth, preparing to move to a better country. The example and influence of all such is a curse to the cause of God. Hollow hypocrisy characterizes their professed Christian lives. They love God and the truth just as much as their works show, and no more. A man will act out all the faith he has.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, pp. 662, 663.
b. What should always be foremost in our mind? 1 Corinthians 3:23; 6:20.
“Whether or not we give mind, soul, and strength to God, it all belongs to Him. God speaks to each human being, saying: ‘I have a claim on you. Give me your zeal, your capabilities, your energy, your means.’ He has a right to ask this; for we are His, redeemed by His boundless love and by the agony of the cross of Calvary from the service of sin.”—The Signs of the Times, January 2, 1901.
5. PREPARING FOR THE LATTER RAIN
a. What realization should awaken each one to action? 2 Corinthians 6:2; Matthew 10:7.
“We need greater earnestness in the cause of Christ. The solemn message of truth should be given with an intensity that would impress unbelievers that God is working with our efforts, that the Most High is our living source of strength. . . .
“Is this indifference to continue from year to year? Is Satan always to triumph, and Christ to be disappointed in the servants whom He has redeemed at an infinite price? We are looking forward to the time when the latter rain will be poured out, confidently hoping for a better day, when the church shall be endued with power from on high, and thus fitted to do more efficient work for God. But the latter rain will never refresh and invigorate indolent souls, that are not using the power God has already given them. Spiritual laziness will not bring us nearer to God. There must be energy and zeal as well as devotion and personal piety, woven into all our works.”—The Signs of the Times, December 9, 1886.
b. What is God’s call for us today? Isaiah 60:1, 2; Matthew 5:14–16.
“A working church is a living church. Church members, let the light shine forth. Let your voices be heard in humble prayer, in witness against the intemperance, the folly, and the amusements of this world, and in the proclamation of the truth for this time. Your voice, your influence, your time—all these are gifts from God and are to be used in winning souls to Christ. Visit your neighbors and show an interest in the salvation of their souls. Arouse every spiritual energy to action. Tell those whom you visit that the end of all things is at hand.”—Medical Ministry, p. 332.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why is time so valuable?
2. What common trap may be preventing us from laboring for Christ?
3. What tendency could be stagnating us in a Laodicean condition?
4. What should give us incentive to labor for Christ?
5. Why will many miss out on receiving the latter rain?