Treasure the Real Life
IS THIS life all there is? By encouraging us to “get a firm hold on the real life,” the Bible indicates that there is more. (1 Timothy 6:17-19) If our present life is not the real life, what is?
The context of the foregoing scripture shows that it is “everlasting life” on which a God-fearing person should get a firm hold. (1 Timothy 6:12) For the vast majority, this means everlasting life on earth. Adam, the first man, had the prospect of living forever on a paradise earth. (Genesis 1:26, 27) He would die only if he ate from “the tree of the knowledge of good and bad.” (Genesis 2:17) But because Adam and his wife, Eve, disobediently ate from that tree, God pronounced the death sentence. ‘In the day they ate from it,’ they died in God’s eyes and began their tumble into physical death. Their life was no longer of the quality that they had enjoyed at first.
The Way to “the Real Life”
In order to make “the real life” possible, Jehovah God made an arrangement to rescue mankind. To help us understand this arrangement, let us imagine a small factory. All the machines in it are faulty and cause trouble for the operators because the first worker years ago ignored the operator’s manual and damaged all the machines. Present-day operators can only do their best to work with what they have. The factory owner wants to rebuild the machines to help his workers, and he is setting aside the funds necessary for that purpose.
The first ‘machine operator,’ Adam, did not treasure the life he had been given. Hence, he passed on to his offspring an imperfect life, similar to a malfunctioning machine. (Romans 5:12) Like the later operators in the factory, who could not remedy the situation, Adam’s offspring have been unable to attain the real life for themselves. (Psalm 49:7) To correct this seemingly hopeless situation, Jehovah sent his only-begotten Son to earth to buy back everlasting life for mankind. (Luke 1:35; 1 Peter 1:18, 19) By dying a sacrificial death for the sake of mankind, God’s only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, provided the funds—the life that corresponds to the one Adam lost. (Matthew 20:28; 1 Peter 2:22) With this precious sacrifice, Jehovah now has the basis for providing the real life.
For obedient mankind, Jesus’ ransom sacrifice will mean life eternal on a paradise earth. (Psalm 37:29) This hope is extended to all who survive “the war of the great day of God the Almighty,” referred to as Har–Magedon. (Revelation 16:14-16) It will eradicate all wickedness from the earth. (Psalm 37:9-11) Those in God’s memory who die before that time will be resurrected to Paradise restored on earth and will have the prospect of enjoying the real life that is in store for all who obey God.—John 5:28, 29.
Need to Cherish Our Present Life
This does not mean that we can rightly show disregard for the sanctity of our present life. Will the owner of the factory spend time and money rebuilding a machine for a worker who does not take care of it? Rather, would the employer not entrust the rebuilt machine to a person who did his best to maintain the old one?
Life is a precious gift from Jehovah. As the benevolent source of that gift, he wants us to cherish it. (Psalm 36:9; James 1:17) Speaking of Jehovah’s concern for people on earth, Jesus said: “Even the hairs of your heads are all numbered.” (Luke 12:7) Jehovah commanded the Israelites not to murder, which naturally included not murdering oneself. (Exodus 20:13) This helps us to avoid viewing suicide as an option.
Knowing Jehovah’s loving interest in our welfare, God-fearing people apply Bible principles to present-day practices. For instance, because true Christians are required to ‘cleanse themselves of every defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in God’s fear,’ they shun tobacco and mind-altering addictive drugs.—2 Corinthians 7:1.
God’s interest in human life is further seen in his counsel to maintain “a calm heart” and to avoid immoral conduct. (Proverbs 14:30; Galatians 5:19-21) By adhering to these high standards, we are protected from such things as detrimental rage and sexually transmitted diseases.
Jehovah’s concern for the lives of his people is also evident in his admonition to refrain from overeating and overdrinking. (Deuteronomy 21:18-21; Proverbs 23:20, 21) Christians are warned that greedy persons and drunkards will not inherit God’s Kingdom, that is, they will never experience the real life. (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; 1 Peter 4:3) By encouraging moderation, Jehovah teaches us to benefit ourselves.—Isaiah 48:17.
When we abide by God’s standards, we show that we treasure our present life. Of course, even more significant is the real life. Since it is everlasting, true Christians attach more importance to it than to their present life. When Jesus Christ sacrificed his life, he subjected himself to the will of Jehovah. Obedience to his Father meant far more to him than did his life here on the earth. Jesus’ course resulted in his resurrection and in his receiving immortal life in heaven. (Romans 6:9) His death also means everlasting life for obedient mankind who exercise faith in his ransom sacrifice.—Hebrews 5:8, 9; 12:2.
Vital Law on Blood
Understandably, Jesus’ followers reflect his thinking. They seek to please God in all things, even as Christ did. For one thing, this explains why they refuse blood transfusions, which some doctors call lifesaving. Let us see how a person shows that he treasures the real life by refusing blood transfusions.
Like Jesus Christ, true Christians desire to be alive in God’s eyes, and that requires complete obedience to Him. God’s Word commands Christ’s followers: “Keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication.” (Acts 15:28, 29) Why was this law about blood included among the commands binding upon Christians?
The Law given to the Israelites required abstinence from blood. (Leviticus 17:13, 14) Christians are not under the Mosaic Law. But they realize that the command not to eat blood predated the Law; it had earlier been given to Noah after the Deluge. (Genesis 9:3, 4; Colossians 2:13, 14) This command applied to all the offspring of Noah, from whom all nations of the earth have descended. (Genesis 10:32) In addition, the Mosaic Law helps us to see the reason for God’s insistence on the sanctity of blood. After forbidding the Israelites to consume blood of any kind, God said: “The soul of the flesh is in the blood, and I myself have put it upon the altar for you to make atonement for your souls, because it is the blood that makes atonement by the soul in it.” (Leviticus 17:11) Blood was reserved by God for sacrificial use upon the altar. His law on the sanctity of blood reveals his authority over all life on the earth. (Ezekiel 18:4; Revelation 4:11) Seeing our life from Jehovah’s standpoint, we realize that it does not belong to us but is only entrusted to us by God.
Just as the operator in our illustration was responsible for a machine, we are entrusted with our present life. What would you do if your machine required repair and a mechanic suggested patching it up by using parts specifically forbidden in the operator’s manual? Would you not consult other mechanics to see if the machine could be fixed in harmony with the manual’s instructions? Human life is far more important and complex than a machine. In his inspired Word, the manual for keeping humans alive, our Maker forbids the use of blood to sustain life. (Deuteronomy 32:46, 47; Philippians 2:16) Is it not reasonable to stick to the requirements of that manual?
Really, Christian patients who ask for bloodless management of their case are not rejecting all medical treatment. They are merely asking for treatment that will show respect for their life—both present and future. Doctors who courageously respect the stand taken by Christians testify to the benefits of treating them in harmony with their request. “Meeting Jehovah’s Witnesses led me to a new set of values,” says one surgeon who used to administer blood extensively. Now he tries to treat even non-Witnesses without blood.
Treasuring the Real Life
What was the new set of values that this surgeon found through treating Jehovah’s Witnesses? He now realizes that treating a patient involves not just the part of the body that is affected by disease but the whole person. Should not a patient be allowed to ask for the best care for his or her physical, spiritual, and emotional welfare?
To 15-year-old Kumiko, a blood transfusion to treat her deadly leukemia was the worst possible option. Trying to lengthen her life by this means for a few weeks, months, or even years was not worth what it would cost her in the long run. Having dedicated her present life to Jehovah God as one of his Witnesses, she respected the sanctity of life and blood. Although her father and other relatives strongly opposed her stand, Kumiko stood firm. Her doctor once asked her: “If your God forgives failures, wouldn’t he forgive you even if you accepted a blood transfusion?” Kumiko refused to compromise and thus repudiate her Bible-based belief. “Keeping a tight grip on the word of life,” she maintained her stand. (Philippians 2:16) As her unbelieving grandmother said, “Kumiko would not abandon her faith.” Soon the attitude of her father and her grandmother as well as that of the attending doctors changed.
Kumiko’s strong faith in Jehovah God, who can resurrect her from the dead, moved many hearts. While still alive, she entreated her father: “Even if I die, I will be resurrected in the Paradise. But if you are destroyed at Har–Magedon, I won’t see you. So please study the Bible.” Her father just kept saying: “When you get well, I will.” But when Kumiko died from her relentless illness, her father put into her casket a note that said: “I’ll see you in Paradise, Kumiko.” After the funeral service, he spoke to those who attended the service and said: “I promised Kumiko that I would see her in Paradise. Although I still can’t believe it because I have not studied enough, I am determined to look into it. Please help me.” Others in her family also started to study the Bible.
Kumiko had true respect for life and wanted to live. She appreciated all that her doctors did to save her present life. By complying with instructions in the Creator’s manual, however, she proved that she treasured the real life. For millions, that will be everlasting life on a paradise earth. Will you be among them?