Alive or Living?
Last week, I was having lunch with my son Jessey. Out of the blue, he asked, “Dad, what’s worse than getting killed?” I immediately replied, “Staying alive.” When he gave me that puzzled look, I clarified my answer, “Staying alive… and not really living.” Staying alive without really living is no better than being dead. In fact, I believe it is worse.
It is because our Lord Jesus, the Life Himself, “came that [we] may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10, ESV. See 14:6 also.) Lest we jump into concluding that the abundant life has something to do with amassing earthly wealth, one translation clarified it: “I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest.” (CEV) Living is more than breathing in and breathing out. That’s just staying alive. Even a person on life support machine can do that. Living is when you enjoy being alive. It is when we live life to the fullest. Someone summarized it well, “The purpose of life is a life of purpose.”
But, when we live a life of disobedience, it is not really living a full life. It is living a fool’s life. It is not living a life of purpose. It is a pointless life. Though its context was about widows, I think 1 Timothy 5:6 described for us a life that is not really life. “A [person] who thinks only about having a good time is already dead, even though she is still alive.” (CEV) According to the Bible Knowledge Commentary, “One need only witness the spiritual emptiness produced within those who choose such a profligate lifestyle to understand Paul’s point.” The word “profligate” means self-indulgent, wasteful or reckless. When we live only for ourselves, for our own pleasure, we are living recklessly. We are just wasting our lives.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.” I believe that the solution to avoid squandering time is not as simple as scheduling one’s life. It is to spend it wisely on who and what matters most in life. Note that even Franklin pointed out that making the most of our time is born out of a love for life. And the best way to love life is to love the Life, Jesus Himself. That is living life to the fullest. The Message version goes like this, “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” We only start to live when we first put our faith on the Lord Jesus and then pursue obeying Him as His followers. That’s real living!
Brethren, are we really living or just staying alive?