Is Life Worth Living?
Carl Lentell, Seaton
THE ABOVE QUESTION is by no means uncommon; sometimes it is prompted by world weariness, a general disgust of everything, and a longing for better things, but more often than not it arises from a false view of life. It we view life as just an opportunity for indulging our own selfish gratification, or as merely a means to promote our own selfish interests, we shall soon find ourselves asking the question: 'Is life worth living?'. It is a common thing today to find middle-aged and elderly people who in spite of seeming prosperity are living disillusioned, miserable and unhappy lives. They have discovered that all they had hoped for and all they had planned, which in a measure they have achieved, is just so much dead sea fruit - seemingly pleasant outside, but bitter and arid inside. The reason for this is not far to seek: they have been living, not for the purpose of honouring God, but for self satisfaction.
Early in the Bible we read the story of Eli, a man in an honoured position, a man with a great heritage from the past, holding a sacred office; yet God has to complain: 'Thou honourest thy sons above me', 1 Sam. 2. 29. Poor miserable man, censured by God, lightly esteemed by men, and into the bargain losing the very sons upon whom he had set his heart! Read your Bible carefully and note how over and over again this same story is told, that when men despise God they suffer for it in one way or another. We can honour God or we can despise Him, and in either case we reap what we sow, for 'them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me, shall be lightly esteemed', 1 Sam. 2. 30. How can we avoid the same fate which overtook Eli? What is the secret of a God-pleasing life? What are the underlying principles of that life which is life indeed? Here as elsewhere the Scriptures must be our guide. A very satisfying answer is to be found in the words of Joshua to the children of Israel: 'But take diligent heed ... to love the Lord your God, and to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul', Joshua 22. 5. And Isaiah agrees with Joshua: 'If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride on the high places of die earth', Isa. 58. 13, 14. The believer who is prepared quietly, consistently and humbly to do these things, will be honoured by God and respected by man, and a more abundant life will be his realized and enjoyed portion. Life can only be worth living if it is lived in die fear of the Lord; and our Lord also reminds us that such a life brings its own reward: 'If any man serve me, him will my Father honour', John 12. 26.
Contemporary with Eli was young Samuel who from the first call of God seems to have been determined to follow in the ways of God and to honour God daily. So much so, that God honoured him by letting 'none of his words fall to the ground'. The people also respected him: 'All Israel from Dan even to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord', 1 Sam. 3. 19, 20. Am I an Eli or a Samuel ? At the judgment seat of Christ the money we have made or the position we have obtained in this world will be worthless, only the laid-up treasure in heaven will have any value in that day, all else will be burnt up.