How Do You Value Your Life?
“Godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”—1 Tim. 4:8, “Common Bible.”
A MOTORIST in Brooklyn, New York, starts to back his car into an empty parking space. Another car comes up from behind and quickly sneaks into the space. In anger the first motorist goes to the other car to reprimand the driver. Suddenly the second driver rips him open with a knife.
In a neighborhood grocery store two men get into a dispute. They go out into the street, where one beats the other to death with a baseball bat.
We can read of such incidents nearly every day. Many people in these stressful times are very “edgy,” so that a burst of anger or a wrong word can trigger a fight that costs a person his life. On a larger scale, riots and revolutions take a heavy toll. Life is indeed becoming cheap in the eyes of an increasing number of people.
How do you feel about life? Do you value it? If so, are there steps that you can take now to protect your life? Is there anything that will ensure protection, or at least, a greater measure of safety?
Yes, there is. But it requires some effort to know what to do, and constant vigilance in doing it. Control of your own temper is one of the foremost qualities for which to strive. “He that is quick to anger will commit foolishness,” says the true proverb. Keeping a calm tongue under aggravating circumstances can save your life and the life of others, as another proverb states: “The calmness of the tongue is a tree of life.” Self-control can prevent great grief and can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. “An answer, when mild, turns away rage, but a word causing pain makes anger to come up.” (Prov. 14:17; 15:1, 4; 16:32) But the ability to control one’s spirit is not easy to achieve.
How can you develop self-control so that you can maintain calmness under dangerous circumstances? By practicing control of your speech when with your family, when at work, or when things do not go just as you would like. Of course, you cannot entirely avoid getting angry. But if you follow the counsel: “Be wrathful, and yet do not sin; let the sun not set with you in a provoked state,” you will gain much better self-control, as well as happiness, both in family life and in relationships with others.—Eph. 4:26.
However, regardless of what he does, a person living in a selfish world cannot protect his life under all circumstances. But there is One who values life much more highly than we do, for he knows what life under right conditions can mean. This One is the Creator of mankind. He promises to make this earth a place wherein death and mourning will be done away with. (Rev. 21:3, 4) And in the meantime, he provides the necessary wisdom for those who want life and peace. With this wisdom you can take the safest possible course even now, with “promise of the life now and that which is to come.”—1 Tim. 4:8.
There are, then, two factors involved in working for protection in this modern world and particularly for the life in a cleansed earth that is to come. The first is your own effort, in turning away from the spirit of this world, where much of the thinking, language and practices is degrading and dangerous. The other involves prayer and your reading of the Bible, thus enabling you to get the help of God’s spirit to do as the Bible advises: “Be made new in the force actuating your mind.” It also says: “Strip off the old personality with its practices, and clothe yourselves with the new personality, which through accurate knowledge is being made new according to the image of the One who created it.”—Eph. 4:23; Col. 3:9, 10.
You can do this if you make an effort to learn the principles in God’s Word and apply them. They are simple, straightforward, easy to understand. We are told: “Wisdom is for a protection the same as money is for a protection; but the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom itself preserves alive its owners.”—Eccl. 7:12.
Wisdom from God can indeed be a help toward a longer life, as the apostle Peter wrote: “He that would love life and see good days, let him restrain his tongue from what is bad and his lips from speaking deception . . . For the eyes of Jehovah are upon the righteous ones, and his ears are toward their supplication.” (1 Pet. 3:10-12) Maintaining a close relationship with God is most important, for, primarily, it protects one spiritually, and often it literally delivers a person from calamity. How?
As an example, consider what Jesus said of his followers: “They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.” (John 17:16) Those taking this wise position keep themselves free from the political factions and strife of this world. It often saves their lives. For instance, in Ireland Jehovah’s witnesses are not allied, with any of the religious or political factions striving for control. A Witness driving down a road there was stopped by three masked men. He told them that he was one of Jehovah’s witnesses, but they made him get out of his car. Usually this would mean that he was about to be shot. Nevertheless, when these men had assured themselves by searching his car that he was indeed a Witness, they told him to drive on, wishing him well.
Most important of all, at the finale of the conclusion of this corrupt system of things, God will reward those loving his right ways by preserving them alive, for life in a cleansed earth. This was assured in a vision given to the apostle John. Therein he saw “a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues.” When the question arose as to whom this crowd represented, the answer was given: “These are the ones that come out of the great tribulation [that marks the end of this system of things].” (Rev. 7:9, 14) Imagine seeing this life-endangering system pass off the scene and living to enjoy a life-giving system in which, under God’s supervision, people can truly make over their personalities to get along in peace and harmony! Surely if you value your life, that is a goal worth working for.