Tuesday 3 July 2012


Long life is promised to the faithful. However, life is uncertain. No matter how many years are allotted to us, we should learn to live intentionally and purposefully.

We’re all familiar with the promise of longevity to those who are wise and faithful:
“Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honour” (Proverbs 3:13, 16).

“Honour your father and mother. This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honour your father and mother, things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth” (Ephesians 6:2-3).

By and large, it is true that long life is the reward for being faithful to God’s commandments.
But things are not so simplistic. This is a fallen world where many things can possibly go wrong.

You may be robbed and fatally stabbed while walking to your car in a shopping mall. Over 300 perished when a tornado swept through the Bible belt of the United States in 2011.

“The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. Moreover, no man knows when his hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so men are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them” (Ecclesiastes 9:11-12).

God, in his mercy, may intervene and preserve our lives: “A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you” (Psalm 91:7).

But sometimes even the good die young. “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints” (Psalm116:15). Is it because they are so intimate in their relationship with the heavenly Father that He longs for their homecoming much earlier than the rest?

The impact of a life is not necessarily related to the number of years a person has clocked on this earth. Its qualityhow a life is lived—often matters much more.

Robert Murray McCheyne (1813-1843) was one of the greatest Scottish preachers. Though he lived only up to the age of 30, he made tremendous impact through his preaching and writings.

Of course, the greatest impact was made by Jesus who ministered for only three years while he was in his early 30’s.

James Allan Francis spoke of the impact made by Jesus’ life:
Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another obscure village, where He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty, and then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never owned a home. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put his foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself. He had nothing to do with this world except the naked power of His divine manhood. While still a young man, the tide of public opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth while He was dying—and that was his coat. When he was dead He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. Nineteen wide centuries have come and gone and today He is the centerpiece of the human race and the leader of the column of progress. I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever were built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that One Solitary Life.

We often take for granted we will be greeted every morning by birds and light streaming into our room. But how sure are we that we will wake up tomorrow?

“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).

We get jolted from our complacency when a close friend or relative dies suddenly. We’re reminded of our mortality and a chilling realisation sets in.

Time is precious. Fritter it away and it’s gone forever. How many of us live intentionally, making our lives count?

Pastor and public speaker Dr Tony Campolo cites a sociological study in which 50 people over the age of 95 were asked one question: “If you could live your life all over again, what would you do differently?” The answers that repeatedly came up were:

If I had to do it over again, I would reflect more.
If I had to do it over again, I would risk more.
If I had to do it over again, I would do more things that would live on after I am dead.

The apostle Paul’s philosophy in life is simple: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me” (Philippians 1:21-22).

In view of life’s uncertainties and transience, we ought to live our lives intentionally and purposefullyand not by default (Ephesians 5:15-17, 1 Peter 4:7).


Which is more important? Longevity or how we live out our lives?

Far more important than our quantity of years is the quality of our livesHenri Nouwen.

It is vanity to wish for long life and to care little about a well-spent lifeThomas à Kempis.

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To live soberly and purposefully during these perilous end times, we need to arm ourselves with wisdom and discernment.


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