What Do You Live For?
VINCENT VAN GOGH might be singled out as an example of the type of person who fiercely dedicates himself to a personal interest. He had the ability to paint and the consuming desire to perfect that ability. Painting came first in his life, even to the point of crowding out natural concern for his health and well-being. It was the thing he lived for. But can it be said that he acted wisely? What did he gain from his acquired skill? It did not bring him happiness, contentment and peace of mind. He committed suicide.
The nineteenth century was not unique in having men who lived for the arts or for some other personal interest. There are many in this twentieth century. While some, like van Gogh, are consumed with a love for painting, others dedicate their life energies to music, to the theater, to science or to business. These are the things that occupy their every waking moment. These are the things around which they shape their life and for which they live.
There certainly is nothing wrong in developing skill in the arts and sciences, but is it right to make them your primary interest in life? Is it wise to live just for them? True happiness and peace of mind do not come from being wrapped up in personal interests. They come from being dedicated to God’s interests. His interests are of vital concern to us all because they will affect the entire earth. They will bring about a complete change in the system of things for the good of mankind. Since this will come about by means of his kingdom, it is wisely written: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness.” (Matt. 6:33) This is the course of true wisdom because it is the way to eternal life.
What good is a great skill in painting or in music if a person cannot continue living so he can exercise that skill? With the gift of eternal life he could enjoy for eternity the arts he loves. Is that not better than wrapping up his life in the arts for the few years he may live now? When death comes what can his artistic skill, for which he lived, do for him? The wise course is for him to dedicate himself to the great Life-giver, Jehovah God. He should concentrate his energies on obeying and serving God. That is the way to receive lasting benefits of which not even death can deprive him.
Jehovah will do what he has promised for those who put his interests first. “So my word that goes forth from my mouth will prove to be. It will not return to me without results.” (Isa. 55:11) By living for God’s interests you will not only benefit yourself but will be able to help mankind.