Monday, February 19, 2007

Time and Wisdom

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on 18th February 2007 in GRIIS, on Time and Wisdom, as a special message for Chinese New Year today. It was preached in Indonesian and I personally translated to English.

Psalms 90:12

“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

How should we count our days?
How should we utilize our time?
How should we live our life?

Bertrand Russell said that we live in a world that is full of knowledge but lack in wisdom. This is so true, and true of him as well. He is a man with great knowledge but poor morality.

Moses understood it right when he asked for “a heart of wisdom” because wisdom is not knowledge in the head, but it is in the heart. Wisdom is not the same as knowledge. If we have a lot of knowledge but have no wisdom, we are like a big ship without a rudder to control our direction. Hence great knowledge need to be controlled by high morality. Otherwise humans would only become smarter devils who poison themselves and others.

Plato said that our will (impulse) should be controlled by our passion (emotions), and our passion should be controlled by our rationality. He said that our human body has shown such design. Human heart is above the sex organ, while the head is above the heart. This shows that our thinking should direct our love, while our love should direct our impulses. This is a great wisdom but this is also the limit where Greek philosophy stops.

If we further ask, what then controls the rationality, the Greek philosophy has no answers.

Wisdom becomes the foundation of all our knowledge. Wisdom is related to time and morality. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle all agree that wisdom is in true virtues because true virtues lead to true happiness. This is great and correct.

However, the Bible’s concept of wisdom surpasses human philosophy and has another element, that is time. What is time? Augustine is a man in history who has very deep understanding of time. Yet he said that before we ask him what is time, he thought he knew, but once we ask, he suddenly realize that he did not know what time is. Time is a very abstract thing, yet very real and we are all affected by it.

How is counting our days related to wisdom? It is related, because it tells us that our decades of life on earth is linked with the eternal God to whom we must give an account. A person who is not conscious of the existence of time can never be close to God. Time is connected to eternity. People who are not conscious of time will live more like animals.

Someone once says that any moment in history is in contact with God. This is a significant statement. This very present moment we have is the moment we can use to have positive or negative eternal impact. Whether we realize it or not, time is constantly shifting us towards the storeroom of history.

What then is the definition of time? The British came up with the statement that time is money. This is a very shallow statement because we cannot use money to buy time to extend our life if God demands it today. The Chinese came up with a similar statement that an inch of time is worth an ounce of gold, but added that it is hard to buy an inch of time with an ounce of gold. This is to say that time is more valuable than money. But these definitions are not good enough.

There are 4 possible definitions according to Scriptures’ teaching:

1. Time is our asset. Time and space are the foundational coordinates that contain our existence. They are the most fundamental assets we have in life. Without time and space, we cannot define our existence on earth. Our birth certificate and tombstone would record both the time and location of our birth and death.

2. Time is our life. If we insult our life, we will waste our time. If we value our time, we will value our life.

3. Time is our opportunity. It is the container of all our opportunities. No opportunity exists outside of time. We need to learn to catch the moments and opportunities hidden in this container called time. Charles Spurgeon said people who are just waiting for greater opportunity are bound to meet with greater sorrow and regret. A wise man seeks opportunity, an ordinary man waits for opportunity while a foolish man neglects his opportunity.

4. Time is our record. Everything we think, say and do in time is all recorded. So time becomes the record of the narrative of our lives. What then are we recording, what are we signing in our paper of life?

If in time, we contain things that are meaningful in the eyes of God, then what we do on earth would surpass time, and would never become obsolete in the storeroom of history as time shifts us, but would last unto eternity.

Therefore, young men and women, do not waste your time.


At 2:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i thot u guys believe in afterlife.

1. Time is our asset.
yes. we hav even more after we r dead.

2. Time is our life.
yes. we have a life even after we are dead.

3. Time is our opportunity.
yes. and we hav no lack of time and opportunity since... there's no 'the end'... even after we are announced dead.

4. Time is our record.
yes. but numerically speaking, no finitely large scalar can compare to infinity. so... so mayb u can play a bad guy role for our entire lifetime (finite) and quit after u r in yr afterlife (infinite)..

At 3:39 PM, Blogger Mejlina Tjoa said...

Hi Anonymous,

Thanks for dropping by. There's afterlife, that's why the way we use our time on earth matters rite?

You are right we have infinite time after we die, but our status then cannot be changed anymore. It is in this temporal life that there's possibility of change and our eternal destiny is determined.

In that sense, time as our asset, life, opportunity and record, is a limited one.

At 10:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

so there isn't a yellow ribbon programme? this is rather cruel, dun u agree?

At 10:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

or perhaps i can play a real nice guy during my lifetime. once after i hav got to heaven, i can commit all kinda sins up there w/o any fear since my eternal destiny has already been determined... u dun mean that, do u?

At 11:44 AM, Blogger Mejlina Tjoa said...

Hi anonymous,

Yes, of course it cannot mean that. There are 4 states of freedom in humanity.

1. Creation
=> Created originally good.
=> But freewill is not yet sanctified, need to go to trials. => Can continue to do good. Can depart from good (sin).

2. The FALL
=> Totally depraved. Every aspect is touched by sin.
=> Freewill is under bondage.
=> CANNOT do good. Can only sin.

3. Redemption
=> Christ's salvation, lead us to faith and repentance.
=> Freewill is redeemed, but still a battle on earth.
=> CAN do good. CAN sin.

4. Glorification
=> The Final Day.
=> Freewill is perfected & sanctified.
=> CAN do good. CANNOT and WILL NOT sin anymore.

I suppose you assume state (2) or (3) to continue in heaven. But in heaven, humans will be in state (4) then.

When God made us, we had the perfection of creation. But the ultimate perfection that He has in mind is state (4), which He has ordained that they be reached through the process of trials.

You may read up systematic theology on the doctrine of humanity which expounds more fully on this.

At 2:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi again,

now i get it. thanks for yr time.

wish u will get that one-way ticket to heaven. :)

At 12:17 PM, Blogger Mejlina Tjoa said...

Hi Anonymous,

Thanks for your well wish. It is indeed a one-way journey & I hope to see you there too.

At 6:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am Chinese from Indonesia now living in Montreal for the past 9 years. I really enjoy reading from this website, thank you so much ...

At 8:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi i am Adam from singapore. I love this blog. I feel that our human lifetime is only a very short journey.and equivalent to a peanut or peas as compared to eternity. It seems long when we are young and it seems short when we are old. What should we do with our existing time? below are some points which i can think of and like to share

1. we have to live as an image of god and glorify our god.
2. Use our wisdom and knowledge to spread the gospel
3. to understand more about god's will.
4. to keep our faith strong and not influence by critics. These are great battles which we need to fight in our life time.
5. keep our love with God fresh.

I dont know if there is much which i can add in but the above 5 points will use up a lot of effort to keep them up. I need a lot more guidance and experience sharing through this journey of faith. I am sure that this blog will help much.


At 4:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your writing refresh my memory of what Pastor Tong had said. Can you write down all the preaching of Pastor Tong in English ? It is very helpful and meaningful to us. It help me remember again and again what Pastor Tong had told us.
As I cannnot record down the messages so fast without distraction during the time of listening to Pastor Tong's preaching ...

At 5:11 PM, Blogger Mejlina Tjoa said...

Thanks for all your comments, my visitors. It is helpful to get feedback from you all.

Anonymous from Montreal, thx for dropping by and may the transcripts continue to be a blessing to you.

Adam, greeting and thanks for your inputs on how to use our time. Yeah, I'll continue to use maintain this blog.

Lee, I post Rev.Tong's sermons in English regularly in this website. In fact, I have done for nearly 2 years. You can click on the month since last Aug 05 at the side bar and read the transcripts if you like.

At 6:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep the faith and God Bless You

At 8:51 AM, Anonymous nobuseri said...

A very good resource to learn 'complete wisdom'. (not just partial)

Proverbs: True Wisdom for Living

it has been a great blessing for me.

At 5:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi Mel,

great to read your post, stumbled on your post while I was thinking/reading about the fate of churches. am from singapore, worships in a luthran church and am wondering if the lutheran movement undergoing so identity crisis..


At 8:16 PM, Blogger Mejlina Tjoa said...

Hi Harriet,

Glad to know you find the transcript helpful. I'm not familiar with Lutheran movement in Singapore, though. But I think crisis is everywhere...

At 1:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How High is a Chinaman?

How High is a Chinaman.

How High lives in China.

At 6:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rev Tong is an excellent servant of God! I always enjoy and benefit from his sermons. Keep up the GOOD WORK, and God bless you,brother!


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