Pereunt et Imputantur: The Hours Perish and Are Reckoned to Our Account
“Would the boy that I was be proud of the man that I became?” Many a times, I wonder how the old Solomon would advise his younger self. Our knowledge of this world will mean little when we stand before God one day. Shall it not be more profitable if we were to spend our days reading the Scripture? Wisdom of the world does not know God, but life in Christ enables us to know that He alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Resolve, therefore, to pursue things of eternal value. While taking a stroll at Steveston one night, I entertained four critical decisions.
I. Following Jesus: Amidst idolatry of self-centeredness, this decision (to deny ourselves and bear our Cross) anchors our priorities in Christ. Matthew 6:33 reminds us, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Live in the second mile of endurance. His grace is sufficient for us to make choices aligned with His will. Seek God first, not gifts. Resolve to become a vessel for Christ, neither in pursuit of rewards nor in fear of punishment.
II. Choosing our Friends: We tend to adopt the values held by close friends. Ensure that they are God-fearing. A wise friend is one who critiques in love and who listens to counsel. They know our flaws and vulnerabilities; yet, they still appreciate – even fight for – us as we are. Treasure our friends also as they are, never our idea of who they ought to be. Their wisdom will shape critical decisions, including our choice of life-partner.
III. Selecting a Career: Human understanding assigns significance to rank and prestige in our degrees and careers. While these pursuits are meaningful, the more significant aspect is how God will do amazing things, regardless of our rank or prestige. Worldly standards mean little to God. The only qualifying factor is the depth of our cooperation with Him. How would this career impact my relationship with God?
IV. Seeking a Spouse: Love is a decision. Commitment must not be based on emotions alone. Never make a permanent decision with a fleeting state of mind. Love needs to be a conscientious choice, especially when our spouse seems unlovable. Be vulnerable. Our closest ones will inevitably hurt us (and vice versa). See who will enrich our spiritual life. Our degree of happiness – including our children’s welfare – is dependent on a Christ-centered marriage. Realise that the only One who can truly satisfy our heart is the One who created it.
Let’s pray for wisdom to choose as God wills. Amongst these decisions, the underlying theme is to live with an eternal perspective. What is seen is only temporary; but what is unseen is eternal. Our conduct in this world will echo in eternity.
Eternity Begins Now
As a timid nine-year-old who lost his mother, life was daunting. But our trials do not entitle us to self-martyrdom. They are meant to refine our character, like a sword being thrust repeatedly into the furnace. May God do a deeper work of the Cross in each of us. Winston Churchill, who lost his father in 1895, once remarked, “Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong; and a boy deprived of a father’s care often develops, if he escapes the perils of youth, an independence and vigour of thought which may restore in after life the heavy loss of early days.” What happened had already happened; we either let it destroy our potential, or we don’t. Eternity begins with a decision.
Unbeknownst to my childish understanding at the time, what God took away He replaced with Himself. “Thy way, not mine, O Lord, however dark it be. Lead me by Thine own hand; choose out the path for me. Smooth let it be, or rough, it will be still the best; winding or straight, it matters not, right on ward to Thy rest.” His grace and mercy abound. Like King David’s early years of shepherding, his opportunity to be alone with God nurtured in him a spiritual sensitivity and indomitable spirit. One of God’s most precious revelations is to live with a perspective of eternity.
Redeeming the Time
Walk circumspectly. Redeem the time, for the days are evil.
Our opportunities to honour God are stifled by worldly priorities. In our final moments, what do we truly want? Shall we embrace that doctorate degree in mahogany-frame? Shall we find solace in reading our financial statement? — Of course not. What will matter then are meaningful human connections. Be a blessing to others today. Let us honour God by serving His people. Lighten the burden of others. Be generous with encouragement and recognition. Help others in any way we can. For the more we are of service to others, the deeper our joy in Him will grow.
Our culture of conformity stunts God-given talents and their fullest potential, leading to wasted lives. Steve Jobs memorably remarked, “Death is very likely the single best invention of life.” Life rejuvenates itself and springs new ideas by eliminating the past, creating a new generation of thinkers and innovators. Time is fleeting. So, live not someone else’s life. Nor be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of another’s thinking. Study their decisions but heed our inner voice. The Holy Spirit already knows what we shall strive for. The hour of danger is when we begin to conform to this world.
Kazuo Ishiguro is one of my favourite authors who explore the theme of mortality. He paints the psychological landscape of those who reckon death as a backdrop of life. From this perspective, Ishiguro explores in Never Let Me Go how genetically engineered children make critical decisions in their short lives.
Here’s a poignant excerpt:
Death is an agent of change. The Japanese harbour a sense of beauty called, 物の哀れ — ‘a sensitivity to ephemera.’ Their love for cherry blossoms is marvelous. Yet, that love is fueled by pathos. As such, the season of cherry blossoms reminds us the brevity of life. Cherry trees are often planted in the cemetery as a further note of transience. We normally associate beauty with pleasure and joy, but ‘sensitivity to ephemeral’ has the unique character of pleasure marked by solemnity and acceptance. As our days are numbered, consider how then we shall live. Reflect on Reinhold Niebuhr’s serenity prayer.
To accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Eventually, we reflect upon our lives, not by the rank and prestige we secured, but by how we have lived and fought to fulfill our responsibilities for God. A life in Christ enables us to cope with triumphs (in humility) and setbacks (in resilience) with eternal values hammered into fierce resolve. Proverbs 3:5-6 is our reassurance: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not on thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.”
The philosophy of Salt+Light is to enable readers to become the salt and light of this world by equipping aspirants with edifying, stimulating, biblical, and robust ideas and perspectives on people, change, leadership, and the Christian life. We dare not be defeated, with Calvary in view. We ask God for His vision to nerve us for the fight. When we stand before God one day, there is no greater pleasure than to hear: “Well done, good and faithful servant. Come and share your master’s happiness.” Until then, realise that the hours perish and are reckoned to our account.
More about Solomon:
I’m privileged to call Solomon a good friend. He recently graduated from University of British Columbia with an degree in International Relations. He researched on Global Counter-terrorism, German Propaganda Models, and the Japanese Political Economy. His aspirations for a postgraduate degree in Law (with a socio-political focus) are two-fold: To serve on the International Commission of Jurists as an attorney and policy-advocate, and to appreciate the study of Law as a sharpener of critical faculties. It is his unflagging conviction that Education is a fundamental human right. “Education makes a people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern, but impossible to enslave.” —Lord Brougham
To connect with Solomon, please check out his profile page.