a sermon delivered by Charles Spurgeon
1 Corinthians 7:29
III. “The time is short.” THIS INSPIRES US.
It ought to fire us with zeal for immediate action. The sun hastens on, the sands run down. “Now is the accepted time.” Let those who love the Lord be prompt. The time to do the deeds that you must do, or leave them undone, flies swiftly past. Say not, “I will do this by and by.” Do it at once. Other duties await you, brief is the space allotted you for all. Are your children converted? Pray with them tonight. Let not tomorrow come without putting your arms about their necks, and kneeling down with them devoutly, and praying fervently that God would save their souls. It is the King’s business, and it demands haste. “The time is short” for others as well as for yourself.
A dear brother told me, a week or two ago, that a man who worked for him frequently, brought in goods when they were finished, and he thought that the next time the man came in, he would speak to him about his soul. When he came, however, business absorbed the employer’s attention, and the man passed away. He felt, he did not know exactly why, pricked in his conscience, and resolved that on the next occasion, he would inquire as to his eternal interests, but he was too late. Instead of coming again, a messenger brought tidings that he was dead. Startled by the news, our brother could find no comfort in regrets, though he bewailed as one who could not forgive himself a hundred wasted opportunities in the presence of one keen self-reproach.
Oh, that an inspiration would constrain you to serve the Lord now! Every time the clock ticks, it seems to say “now.” The time is so short that the matter is urgent. Do not wait, young man, to preach Jesus till you have had more instruction, begin at once. You, who mean to do something for the poor of London when you have hoarded up more money, spend your money now, do it at once. You, who mean to leave a large sum to charities when you die, defer it not, be your own executors. Lay out the capital at once, get some joy and comfort out of it yourselves. Now is the time to carry a good purpose into good effect. Before you were saved, the message to you was, “Today, if you will hear his voice, harden not your heart.” After you are saved, the message to you is, “Today, obey his voice, and serve the Lord your God with all your heart, and mind, and soul, and strength.” “The time is short,” so make the most of it.
“The time is short.” I want to ring this sentence louder and louder in your ears that it may inspire you to pray for immediate conversions. I have met with many who are hoping to get converted some day, but not now. Is not such procrastination perilous? Dare any of you run the risk of willfully abiding in unbelief another hour? Can you brook the thought of remaining month after month in jeopardy of your soul? Is it safe to tempt the Lord, and provoke the anger of the Most High?
O sirs, while you flatter yourselves with pleasing prospects, you are beguiling your hearts with a reckless presumption! We want you to be converted, and no time can be more suitable than this present time. Forsake your sin immediately. Do not turn back to dally with it a little longer. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and lay hold on the promise of eternal life, without any further delay. You may never see another morrow, or the desire that whets your appetite now may fail you then. This is our prayer, that you may, this very hour, be brought into the fold of Christ.
Then seeing that “the time is short,” let us bear with patience the ills that vex us. Are we very poor? “The time is short.” Does the bitter cold pierce through our scanty garments? “The time is short.” Is consumption beginning to prey on our trembling frame? “The time is short.” Are we unkindly treated by our kinsfolk? Do our comrades revile, and our neighbors mock us? “The time is short.” Have we to bear evil treatment from an ungenerous world? “The time is short.” Do cruel taunts try our tempers? “The time is short.”
We are travelling at express speed, and shall soon be beyond the reach of all the incidents and accidents that disturb and distract us. As we travel home to our Father’s house, the distance diminishes, and we begin to sight the city of the blessed, “the home over there.” It is needless to murmur or repine, why trouble yourselves about what you will do a month or two hence? You may not be here, you may be in heaven. Your eyes will have beheld “the King in his beauty,” you will have seen “the land that is very far off.”
“The way may be rough, but it cannot be long;
So smooth it with hope, and cheer it with song.”
Worldly mindedness ill becomes us who have confessed that we are “strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” “The time is short” in which we can hold any possessions in this terrestrial sphere. Then let us not love anything here below too fondly. We brought nothing into the world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. Survey your broad acres, but remember that you will not long be able to walk across them. Look on your plenteous crops, but ere long another shall reap the profit of those fields. Count your gold and silver, but know that wealth, greedily as it is sought, will not give you present immunity from sickness and sorrow, neither will it secure your welfare when called to quit your frail tenement.
Trust in the living God. Love the Lord, and let eternal things absorb your thoughts and engage your affections. “The time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.”
Are these gloomy reflections? Nay, dear brethren, the fact that “the time is short” should inspire us, who are of the household of faith, with the most joyous expectations. Do you really believe in the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Do you really believe that your head is to wear a crown of life that fades not away? Do you really believe that these feet of yours, all shod with silver sandals, will stand upon that street of pure gold? Do you really believe that these hands shall pluck celestial fruits from trees whose leaves can never wither, and that you shall lie down in the spice-beds in the gardens of the blessed? Do you believe that these eyes shall see the King in that day when He comes in His glory, and that these bones shall rise again from the grave, and your bodies shall be endowed with an incorruptible existence? “Yes,” say you, “we do believe it, and believe it intensely too.”
Well, then, I would that you realized it as so very near that you were expectant of its fulfillment. Who would cry and fret about the passing troubles of a day when he saw the heavens open, beheld the beckoning hand, and heard the voice that called him hence?
Oh, that the glory might come streaming into your soul till you forget the darkness of the way! Oh, that the breeze from these goodly mountains would fan you! Oh, that the spray from that mighty ocean would refresh you! Oh, that the music of those bells of heaven in yonder turrets would enliven you! Then would you speed your way towards the rest that remains for the people of God, inspired with sacred ardor and dauntless courage. But the ungodly are not so. It is to them I must address the last word, “The time is short.”