IMB President says every day worth more than a diamond

FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – International Mission Board President Tom Elliff shocked students at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary during a chapel service, Oct. 9, when he spilled what he said were uncut diamonds worth more than $6 million on the chapel stage. The fumble—accompanied by audible gasps—came moments after Elliff told students that a wealthy doctor had donated more than 2,000 uncut diamonds to the IMB to fund mission work.
Of course after he spilled more diamonds a second time, Elliff admitted that they were not, indeed, real diamonds after all but rather plastic replicas he had bought at a craft store. He had made up the story about the doctor as well in order to illustrate a point about the value of time.
“Every day God has given you is worth more than a diamond,” Elliff said. “And God is going to hold you and me accountable for the way we use every one of these days He entrusts to us.”
Preaching on the subject of time, Elliff pointed to Psalm 90, which records Moses’ plea to God to “teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
“Time is a resource that God places into your hands,” Elliff said. “And like every other resource that God places in your hands, he expects—especially of His children—that you be a good steward of it. One of these days, you will answer to God for the way in which you have spent this time.”
Because of the fall, Elliff said, even time has been corrupted.
“Time, unless we have other redemptive plans for it, is not going to just naturally run to the good; it’s going to naturally run to the evil.”
“We’re to redeem the time. We’re to have better plans for our time than the devil. By the way, the devil has plenty of plans for your time, and he has already mounted a multi-billion dollar program to capture your time and use it for evil purposes. But you have to buy it back; you have to make better plans for it; you have to redeem it.”
“I confess to you that I am speaking on this subject because I wish someone had spoken to my heart about it when I was seated right where you are,” said Elliff, who earned his Master of Divinity at Southwestern in 1971.
Connecting his message to the urgency of missions, Elliff pled with students to maximize their time in seminary. He corrected the common error of those who feel theological training would waste time that they could be on the mission field.
“The call to ministry is the call to train,” Elliff said. “It’s not (IMB’s) preference to have someone sowing into the DNA of a church planting movement something that is not true. Get the best training. It’s right here; it’s available to you.”
Elliff also spoke of the hundreds of thousands of people on the earth who die every day. He encouraged students to get their training now but to continue to share the Gospel as they do so.
“Why not just share it on the way home at the filling station or the grocery store?” Elliff asked. “If you’re not going to do it there, you’re not going to do it 7,000 miles from here.”
“Every person you see has eternity in their heart,” Elliff concluded.
Audio and video of Elliff’s sermon can be accessed at

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