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Creatures of time
- Jacob Ninan
God is spirit, and He is eternal in existence, without beginning or end (Jn.4:24;Re.22:13). For Him, the past, present and future are all the same. Time does not make any difference to Him. A thousand years are like a day for Him amd a day like thousand years. He created time when He created the universe and us, and we are creatures who live in time.
Even though it took thousands of years in human history after Adam and Eve sinned before Jesus came to die for the sins of the whole world, for God it was something He knew before the foundations of the earth (Ep.1:4,5). God talks about us being seated with Christ in the heavenly places (Ep.2:6), even though we shall experience this only in the future.
The painful fact of living in finite portions of time affects us when we deal with spiritual issues in our daily life. Think of what happens when we are tempted to sin. The temptation comes to us as a thought at a certain point of time, and it takes a finite time for it to stir up our feelings and become real pressure inside us that prompts us to sin. It takes some finite time after this when we think of what God thinks about this temptation, and then we turn away from it. If we finally turn away from the temptation we are victorious, even though a certain time has elapsed from the time the temptation came to us at first. If we expect us to react instantaneously to the temptation and reject it even before it could become really a temptation to us, we forget our presence in time and the time it takes for us to process the temptation. In case of severe temptations, the processing time may be still longer, with us battling with our thoughts back and forth before we finally choose to reject the temptation. We don't need to think that the time it took for us to reject the temptation was a time of sin.
Think of an instance when we fell into sin. It is a fact that when Jesus died for us even this sin was paid for, and we can receive forgiveness in the next instant itself if we confess our sins (1Jn.1:9). But what happens in practice is that we feel the guilt of sin, repent before God, confess our sin to Him and then receive forgiveness. All this takes a certain period of time, and there are many precious lessons we can learn at each point in that period. We may like to feel forgiven the very moment after we have fallen. But if it could happen, it may turn out that we don't recognise the seriousness of sin or the preciousness of forgiveness.
When we forgive someone, we would like all our feelings of hurt to disappear immediately, and when we ask someone for forgiveness we would like them to treat us immediately as if we had never done wrong. Both these are unrealistic expectations because we are creatures that take time to change.
If we can take this into consideration and judge the state of our heart, it can help us in many practical situations to be saved from unrealistic expectations and consequent disappointments and guilt.