So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. (ESV)
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (NIV)
Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. (NLT)
Back to the demanding responsibilities of life. Work may be feeling longer, the kids are back to starting sports, a new school semester has just begun, and your schedule is filling up. But what do you do with your free time? I once heard it said that the Christian definition of laziness is “Denying the demands of Love.” So, just because you're busy doesn’t mean you are off the hook for laziness and apathy. We want to remind you through the lens of God’s word to be diligent and servant-hearted even when you find yourself in a season where it feels impossible to live sacrificially!
This month’s theme is Laziness and Service. We will learn what it means to number our days, to serve the Lord passionately–working hard for Him, not for the approval of man, and how to faithfully serve one another through the gifts that God has given each of us. This theme is for you, not just the person sitting next to you. It’s for me, the writer, not just for you, the reader. Let us grow in sacrificial love together.
Do you think about death? Often, most of us go through life avoiding discussions about death, whether consciously or unconsciously. Our days are occupied by the various phases of life - high school, college, a demanding career, or the challenges of raising a family. We like to envision a lengthy life extending well into our 80s. Yet, reality doesn't always conform to this hopeful narrative.
Regrettably, in our world, tragedies unfold daily. Sickness strikes, accidents happen, hearts fail, and even slumber can take to death. I share these thoughts not to instill fear or provoke morbid contemplation but to acknowledge the real presence of death in our lives. Here lies a simple truth: each of us will one day confront death. A day we do not know. Though we may resist it, it's an unavoidable reality.
Acknowledging this topic can be burdensome, and I comprehend its weight. Interestingly, though, the Scriptures approach this subject with extreme honesty. A swift glance through the pages of the Bible reveals verses such as, "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14, or “Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.” Psalm 144:4, or “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty if our strength endures, yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.” Psalm 90:10 or our verse for this week, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12.
Now, you might wonder, “Why this emphasis on death?” The Bible is deeply concerned with granting us wisdom. Its’ purpose is to understand the love of our savior and to grow us in wisdom. Therefore, these verses and others like them awaken us to the fleeting nature of our lives. They prompt us to contemplate the swiftness with which life unfolds before our eyes and, in doing so, encourage reflection.
It's important to clarify that the intent isn't to dwell obsessively on the finality of death. Instead, these passages direct us toward the joy of living in the present moment, receiving God’s daily bread, and having eternal hope. God's intention is not for us to be consumed by the fear of death but rather to redirect our focus to how we can truly live.
See, when we begin to think of ourselves as invincible or “immortal”, we make selfish decisions. We try and live in order to please our flesh. We binge another series on Netflix, we play video games till 4 AM, we forsake serving our neighbor, we live prayerless days, we make compromises and fall into sin, and we distract ourselves with meaningless things. We are accountable for how we steward our lives. We should be motivated to reflect on how we are living, and “whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.” (2 Cor 5:9)
Psalm 90:12 tells us that growing in wisdom comes when we start numbering our days. Take an honest look at how you steward your life, the way you spend your time, the things you invest in, and the things that motivate you, and lay it all down before the Lord.
I have a deep admiration for church history, and the whisper of "Memento mori" finds resonance within me - remember death. This poignant Latin phrase led the monks to go as far as to place a skull on the desk. Picture them, their quiet moments of prayer and study, the skull resting upon their desks, granting a tangible reminder of life's fleeting nature and the purpose of looking to eternity to guide this life. I am not proposing that you adorn your workspace with skulls, but as you commit this week's verse to memory, let it spark continued reflection about the fleeting life we live and the infinite purpose found in living every moment of it for King Jesus.
Allow this understanding to produce honesty. Reflect upon how each day unfolds in light of eternity, for as the days are numbered, may they guide you towards living them out in wisdom and sacrifice, producing newfound significance to every moment you live.
We number our days now because someday we don’t have to.
How do you want to spend eternity?–with regret that you could have done things differently or with joy knowing you didn’t take this life for granted? Now, there will always be things we regret, but how we move forward from those things truly reveals our hearts. Are you so crippled by your past mistakes that you tend to make even more? Mistakes can lead to two things: conviction that gives birth to repentance, leading to freedom and humility, or shame that produces death and apathy. Jesus died for you so that one day, death shall be no more. The truth is, for those of us who believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins, we aren’t counting down our days to death but instead counting them into eternal life. We can now live every day in the light of eternity. No longer making rash, selfish decisions out of a pleasure grab rooted in our fear of death, but can live a life of sacrificial love rooted in the freedom and hope found in the life to come.
Written by Ben Hesch