Can You Lengthen Your Life-Span?
LIFE is precious. Who among the millions enjoying good mental and physical health would want to pick the year, month, day and hour of his death? Certainly no one. When people are doing meaningful work and feel that they are appreciated and loved, they want life to continue. But how can a person secure for himself a long and meaningful life?
Worrying about it certainly will not add even a minute to a person’s life-span. Instead of contributing toward a lengthening of life, undue anxiety only brings unpleasantness and may even shorten it.
Of course, a person may be able to do very little about inherited weaknesses and defects in the functioning of his physical organism. Then, too, an unforeseen occurrence—accident, flood, earthquake or volcano—may quickly snuff out his life. Nevertheless, things can be done in order to enjoy a longer life even now. We can avoid taking foolish chances and can see to it that our bodies get needed food and rest. Most importantly, we can choose to be guided by wisdom.
A Bible proverb points to the good effect that applied wisdom can have on the life-span, saying: “It is a tree of life to those taking hold of it, and those keeping fast hold of it are to be called happy.” (Prov. 3:18) Yes, wisdom, the ability to apply knowledge successfully, can save us from untold trouble, including a premature death.
Consider, for example, what the Bible book of Proverbs says about alcohol abuse: “Who has woe? Who has uneasiness? Who has contentions? Who has concern? Who has wounds for no reason? Who has dullness of eyes? Those staying a long time with the wine, those coming in to search out mixed wine. Do not look at wine when it exhibits a red color, when it gives off its sparkle in the cup, when it goes with a slickness. At its end it bites just like a serpent, and it secretes poison just like a viper.”—Prov. 23:29-32.
As here described, the person who is given to heavy drinking often becomes quarrelsome without cause and may find himself embroiled in fights. To him, wine looks unduly attractive, sparkling. His intemperance in the use of alcoholic beverages has the same effect upon him as the poison of a viper. It can make him physically sick, causing, for instance, cirrhosis of the liver. It can also harm him mentally by producing delirium tremens. Like a serpent’s poison, heavy intake of alcoholic beverages may be death-dealing.
Describing what can happen to a person in a drunken state, the book of Proverbs continues: “Your own eyes will see strange things, and your own heart will speak perverse things. And you will certainly become like one lying down in the heart of the sea [experiencing the confusion of one drowning, finally passing into unconsciousness], even like one lying down at the top of a mast [the rocking of a ship being at its greatest point here, the drunkard’s life is in greatest danger from such things as an accident, a stroke or a brawl]. ‘They have struck me, but I did not become sick; they have smitten me, but I did not know it [says the drunkard, as if talking to himself; his senses are totally dulled to what is happening to him]. When shall I wake up? I shall seek it yet some more [yes, after sleeping off the effects of his overindulgence, he will go right back to his drinking].’”—Prov. 23:33-35.
Truly the person who avoids alcohol abuse is wise. His wisdom is a “tree of life,” protecting him from all kinds of trouble and, possibly, an untimely death.
Other counsel provided in the book of Proverbs can, if applied, likewise contribute to a lengthening of one’s life. There is encouragement to pay attention to sound counsel, to avoid involvement with lawless elements and to shun sexual immorality. We read: “A wise person will listen and take in more instruction.” (Prov. 1:5) “If sinners try to seduce you, do not consent. If they keep saying: ‘Do go with us. Do let us lie in ambush . . .’ do not go in the way with them.” (Prov. 1:10-15) “Why should you, my son, be in an ecstasy with a strange woman or embrace the bosom of a foreign woman? . . . His own errors will catch the wicked one, and in the ropes of his own sin he will be taken hold of. He will be the one to die because there is no discipline.”—Prov. 5:20-23.
Clearly, conduct that harmonizes with the Holy Scriptures contributes to a longer and happier life. The benefits of godly conduct, however, are not limited just to the present. The Christian apostle Paul wrote: “Godly devotion is beneficial for all things, as it holds promise of the life now and that which is to come.”—1 Tim. 4:8.
The kind of life in the future that the Most High has in mind for mankind is described in the Bible as follows: “Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.”—Rev. 21:3, 4.
Therefore, living in harmony with God’s requirements can add years to a person’s life now and put him in line for a grand future. But not all persons today favor living by the Bible. They prefer their own ways. Among these people are persecutors of God’s servants.
There may be times when such persecution threatens a godly person’s life. What then? Should he yield to the demands of the persecutors and thereby escape a premature death? It might seem that compromise in such a case could result in the lengthening of one’s life-span. But that is not the case. Jesus Christ said: “Whoever wants to save his soul [life] will lose it; but whoever loses his soul for the sake of me and the good news will save it.” (Mark 8:35) “He that is fond of his soul destroys it, but he that hates his soul [not holding life as too precious] in this world will safeguard it for everlasting life.”—John 12:25.
How can the loss of one’s life prematurely at the hands of persecutors result in safeguarding it for an endless life-span?
Because the person who dies in faithfulness to God can rest assured of being raised from the dead with everlasting life in view. On the other hand, the person who compromises may live a few more years on earth, but he has jeopardized his prospect for gaining eternal life. When he loses his approved standing with God, this means that he has exchanged an eternal, happy future for a few short years of life in an ungodly world. What a foolish decision this is!
So, if you are truly interested in lengthening your life-span, make the sound guidelines of the Bible your own and apply them. Do so regardless of what pressure might be brought against you for this. Never lose sight of the fact that, not man, but God alone can give you unending life.