***DISCLAIMER***The following is far from an exhaustive answer to the question. it is simply an answer nonetheless.
Recently, someone asked me why she should study if she is simply going to die anyway, thus rendering all studying basically meaningless (in her eyes). The questioner and I had a two-part discussion. For consolidation and relevance purposes (the questioner did not have the kindest things to say about herself), I have bundled up the entire discussion into a simple “question then answer” format. Furthermore, I have titled the article in a way that best sums up the question. I believe anyone can use the “why not use time for God instead of doing X” phrase for many a thing (work, school, exercising, etc.), thus the title.
Why should I study if I will die one day and everything I studied won’t matter anymore? I have to take an exam and I am scared. I want to get a maximum grade, but it is so hard. I was thinking, what is the point of studying at school if I will die like all the others? Why not use my time only for God and not school?
You have certainly asked some good questions. I would like to address these.
First, your view regarding your studies would indeed be meaningless if God was out of the equation. In fact, Solomon spoke of this concept of “meaninglessness” in the book Ecclesiastes. Without God, everything is indeed meaningless (Ecclesiastes 1:2). This includes human wisdom (2:14–16); labor (2:18–23); amassing things (2:26); life itself (3:18–22); competition (4:4); selfish overwork (4:7–8); power and authority (4:16); greed (5:10); wealth and accolades (6:1–2); and perfunctory religion (8:10–14).
When one leaves God out of the equation, nothing satisfies. The born-again Christian’s duty in life is found in knowing God and keeping His commands. In fact, Solomon concludes Ecclesiastes as follows (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; NASB):
The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 14 For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.
Born-again Christians most definitely fear God, for that is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10). Furthermore, they both walk in the good works Christ has called them to do and bear fruit in keeping with repentance (Ephesians 2:10; Matthew 3:8). They do this because Jesus Christ has saved them from their sins (1 Timothy 1:15; Matthew 1:21; John 1:29; Acts 4:12; Mark 1:15). As a result, you should most definitely keep studying the Word of God. By doing so, you will both mature as a Christian and have your senses trained to discern good and evil (see Hebrews 5:1-14, especially the last three verses after reading the first eleven verses for context).
Second, the apostle Paul states in Colossians 3:17, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (NASB). Everything a Christian does is to glorify God. This can include but not be limited to studying for school. Paul also said something similar in 1 Corinthians 10:23-31 (NASB):
23 All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor. 25 Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake; 26 for the earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains. 27 If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience’ sake. 28 But if anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience’ sake; 29 I mean not your own conscience, but the other man’s; for why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I slandered concerning that for which I give thanks? 31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Studying for school is most definitely lawful. Furthermore, it has the potential to edify others by helping you have a greater opportunity to land a solid job (especially if you graduate college or above). In fact, working hard for one’s employer is a good work. The apostle Paul lists several different hats that Christians wear in their walk with Christ. They are found in Colossians 3:18-4:6 (NASB):
18 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. 20 Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.
22 Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. 25 For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.
4 Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven.
2 Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;3 praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; 4 that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.
5 Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.
Christians wear many different hats (some would call this the doctrine of “vocation”). These are the good works Christians are called to do. Wives are called to submit to their husbands as is fitting in the LORD (verse 18). Husbands are to love their wives without being embittered against them (verse 19). Slaves (or employees) are to obey those who are their masters on earth. While the verses do not verbatim address the role of student, Christians are to do their work heartily in whatever they do as for the LORD rather than men (verse 23). This can include but not be limited to studying for academics. This is a good work. As a result, in this time on earth, you can definitely glorify God by working hard in your studies. After all, you would be doing your work heartily as for the LORD rather than men.
I hope this answer helps you.