Living on Borrowed Time

by Jefferson David Tant

"The days of our years are threescore years and ten, Or even by reason of strength fourscore years; Yet is their pride but labor and sorrow; For it is soon gone, and we fly away" (Psalm 90:10). Having reached that milestone of threescore and ten a few years ago. I feel that it is by the grace of God, the skill of doctors, and a wife who looks after my health that I am still in good health and among the living. At this stage of life, one has a different perspective on the past, and on what lies ahead. In a sense, those who are living past a certain age are living on "borrowed time."

We have all borrowed things from others from time to time. We may borrow some clothes for a special occasion, or borrow some dinnerware if we are having a crowd over for dinner. And there are times when we might borrow someone's car when ours is sick or dead. When we borrow things, we generally take extra care of them, knowing they are not ours, and we will have to give an account if we damage the things borrowed.

How do we regard our borrowed time? In truth, all of our time is borrowed, as we owe our time to the Lord, whether we are young or old. This is particularly true of those who are Christians, because we have been bought with the blood of Christ, and we belong to God. "Or know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? and ye are not your own; for ye were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body" (I Corinthians 6:19-20). Paul evidently considered that everything he was and had belonged to the Lord. "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me."

In view of the brevity and uncertainty of life, we are admonished to be "making the most of your time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:16).

In my search of the Scriptures, I have not found the passage that speaks of the Christian's "retirement years," other than the heavenly rest. I have seen too many older saints who "take life easy," because they have already done their duty. When I see someone like that, I suspect that they have been taking things pretty easy all along the way, for one who is fervently serving the Lord in youth is not apt to let the fires cool when they are older. Because of persecutions and hardships, evidently Jeremiah had determined not to prophesy any longer, but found he could not contain himself. "And if I say, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name, then there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with forbearing, and I cannot contain" (Jeremiah 20:9).

What can older Christians do, who often have spare time on their hands. Consider a few suggestions.

  1. They can encourage those who are younger, who may be struggling. A few words of encouragement or wise counsel can do wonders.
  2. They can work with Bible Correspondence Courses. Some are doing this on-line, as well as through the mail.
  3. They can teach the gospel. I have known more than one elderly saint who was teaching others, even into their 90s.
  4. You can write letters of encouragement to those who are preaching the gospel in other places, especially those whom the church where you attend are supporting.
  5. You can teach skills to those who are younger, as mentioned in Titus 2:4-5.
  6. Visit or call those who were absent from the assembly.
  7. Perhaps by reason of infirmity, many of these things are beyond your ability, but there is still an effective work you can do — pray for others. "The supplication of a righteous man availeth much in its working" (Ephesians 5:16).

If you are living on borrowed time, use it carefully, so that you can give it back in good shape.