Every minute is a gift; choose to use your time wisely

Several people keep forwarding long e-mails to me (a dozen or more a day), mostly about things I don’t care anything about, or even find offensive. I end up wasting hours on them. Should I block them, or demand people stop sending them? I don’t want to be offensive, however. — T.F.

I am thankful for the way the Internet has made it easier for us to communicate. Our own organization not only uses e-mail extensively but is also constantly looking for new ways to use the Internet to bring the Gospel to those who do not know Christ.

But I suspect many people would echo your complaint; it’s become far too easy to waste time on the Internet, as you’ve discovered. One solution, of course, would be for you to delete e-mails you know are useless, without reading them. That will take discipline, of course, but you shouldn’t feel compelled to read an e-mail just because someone sent it to you.

After all, you probably don’t read every word in your newspaper or watch every program on television. Neither should you bother reading every e-mail, if you know you’ll only be wasting time. Another option might be to send out a general e-mail, telling people that your e-mail has become so time-consuming that you’ll no longer be able to read forwarded e-mails.

Behind your question is an important spiritual truth: Every minute is a gift from God, and we shouldn’t waste even one of them. The Bible says, “Make the most of every opportunity” (Colossians 4:5). Put your life into Christ’s hands, and then ask Him to help you use your time in ways that honor Him.

Recently, I thought I was telling my neighbor the truth about something, but later I found out it wasn’t true after all. Does this make me a liar in God’s eyes? I’ve always tried to be as truthful as possible. — Mrs. W.Q.

You shouldn’t worry about this; God knows your heart, and He knows you weren’t intentionally telling a lie. If you haven’t already done so, go to your neighbor and set the matter straight. Not only do you want to avoid misleading your friend, but you want to keep your friend from passing on false information to others.

However, something you said elsewhere in your letter made me wonder if your real problem was gossiping. No, you might not have been telling an intentional lie — but were you talking about other people in wrong ways? The Bible warns us against the dangers of gossip; not only do we risk passing on false information, but we easily tear others down. The Bible warns, “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends” (Proverbs 16:28). Remember: Even when something is true, it isn’t necessarily wise or right to pass it along. As the Bible says, “There is a time for everything . . . a time to be silent and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7). Always ask yourself not only if what you’re saying is true, but if it is helpful. Would you be embarrassed to say it if Jesus were standing with you?

Nothing can get us in trouble quicker than our words - and yet nothing can be more helpful and encouraging to others. Let the psalmist’s prayer be yours: “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).

This Christmas was very hard for me. Most of my relatives are gone now (including my husband), and the few I do have are either too old or live too far away, so I was completely alone. Please tell people to reach out to lonely people during holidays, because it’s hard for them. — Mrs. C.N. Thank you for your letter — and I hope many readers will take your words to heart. You’re right: Holidays are especially hard when we’ve lost our loved ones or they aren’t near us, and the friendship of another person is especially welcome then.

Let me point out two truths about loneliness. First, we are never completely alone when we know Jesus Christ. When we turn to Christ in faith and commit our lives to Him, He comes to live within us by His Spirit, and He is constantly with us. Jesus’ promise is true: “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Is Christ real to you?

Second, God wants us to reach out to those who are lonely and let them know we care. When we feel all alone, it’s hard to reach out to others — and yet that may be exactly what we need to do to overcome our own loneliness. All around you are people who may be just as lonely as you are. Ask God to help you to be a friend to them.

Remember: No one was ever lonelier than Jesus when He went to the cross for us. He knows what it is to be lonely! But because He died and rose again for us, He is with us now - and will be with us through all eternity.

I have a good friend who, I think, truly believes in Jesus, as do I. But she says she’s afraid I won’t be in heaven with her, because she believes her church is the only true church, and you have to belong to it in order to be saved. What can I say to her? — Mrs. D.G.

No doubt your friend is sincere in her concern for your salvation, and you should let her know you appreciate her concern. I wish more Christians were as concerned about the eternal destiny of those around them.

However, your friend has missed one of the Bible’s greatest truths, and I hope someday she’ll come to understand it. It is this: Our salvation depends solely on Christ, and what He has done for us through His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. No matter how good we are . . . no matter how loyal we are to our church . . . these will not save us. Only Christ saves us, as we put our faith and trust in Him.

Jesus Christ was the sinless Son of God — but when He went to the cross all our sins were transferred to Him, and He took upon Himself the judgment we deserve. Now He offers us forgiveness — freely and fully — if we commit our lives to Him and trust Him for our salvation. The Bible says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

Ask God to help you share this great truth with your friend — not arguing with her, but simply pointing her to Christ. Then rejoice that someday you will be united in heaven with all who have trusted Christ for their salvation.

Send your queries to “My Answer,” c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 1-(877) 2-GRAHAM, or visit the Web site for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association: