God’s got an agenda for your life, and it’s includes longevity. Think back to the first men and women who walked the earth, seeing up to 1,000 years of quality living (Gen. 5:27 mentions a guy named Methuselah who lived to 969). Can you even wrap your mind around that length of time? You’d remember the Renaissance like it was your wedding day, and you would have completely lost track of the number of winters you’d seen. The stories in your arsenal would fill bookshelves.
That’s the way it was until just before the flood, when God lowered the mortality-ceiling to about 120 years (Gen. 6:3). Though this is astoundingly less than our previous near-immortal lifespan, it’s still very long in a day and age where 70 years is our standard. And no other warm-blooded creature sees even close to that number. If you lived to 120, it puts your mid-life crisis at age 60, implying that at 45, I have about 20 years ahead of me before I reach my prime. Sign me up!
The long and short of it: our expectations about life and longevity might be short-changing us!
Further, on close inspection of the Bible, it would seems that God clearly wants to expand our years. Promises of long life abound (see Deut. 5:33). It’s not God’s dream for you to have your years cut short. That’s the other guy’s agenda.
Yet too few Bible-believing people realize these promises, with anything beyond 70 years considered a nice bonus but certainly not the norm. And literally no one expects those latter years to be exhuberantly healthy and life-to-the-full!
So is the promise of 120 years enough to get you there? The answer: of course not! Every promise has stipulations. If you do ___________, than you will receive ____________. So it is with long life.
Some Biblical deal-breakers in determining life-span:
1) Fearing the Lord
“The fear of the Lord adds length to life…” Proverbs 10:27. In another proverb, this fearing-the-Lord is likened to a fountain of youth! Whatever this means, it’s worth digging into because it’s chalk full of promise to extend your years. I'd say it's essentially living a life that centres around God with an acute awareness that are lives were created BY and FOR Jesus’ pleasure. If the human-being were solar powered, God would be the sun. You don’t run well and you don’t live long without Him. In Him we live and move and have our being.
2) Honouring Authority Figures
I like to call this the don’t-do-stupid-things principle. Most of the winners of the Darwin Awards were not following their elder’s advice. Listen to them, and you’ll live longer. Of course the prima-donna Scripture reference here is the fifth commandment reiterated in Ephesians 6:3: Honor your mother and father that it may go well with you and that you may live a long life.
3) Valuing Community
1 Corinthians 11 opens up an interesting idea and here it is in a nutshell: the person who does NOT value community (through exercising divisive, selfish behaviour) is more likely to get sick and die sooner than the one who looks out for others. Additionally, the lone ranger is in much more danger throughout life’s difficult times than the community beaver. We survive longer when we're surrounded by friends.
4) Caring for your body
Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body. ~ Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Message)
Many of the things that are taking years off of people’s lives are related to how they are treating the “temple”, which is their body. The kinds of abuse they put it through, or the kinds of things they put into it, or didn’t put into it, are literally killing them. Like a brand new truck off the lot, your body comes with, not a 5 year, but a 120 year guarantee!! That’s out of God’s own mouth. But just like a truck warranty, that warrantee is entirely on the manufacture's terms, not yours. Here are a few of God's terms on your 120 body-warrantee.
- Sexual immorality? Warrant void. Having sex with lots of people is at least like letting anyone who wants to drive your new vehicle. No one in their right mind does this.
- Gluttony, or overeating, nullifies the warranty.
- Drunkeness, or addiction, to any substance renders the warrant null and void.
- Holding bitterness or unforgiveness? We have problems. Grace is withheld from your life when you refuse to forgive others (Matthew 6:12)
And let me be clear: it’s not just about what you DON’T do! Your body has an instruction manual and you’ve got to follow it as if you’re life depended on it, because it does. Here are a few things included in the operational manual of the human body:
A. Physical Activity
Like a big ol’ diesel truck, you too need to work hard physically from time to time or you deteriorate (who’d a thought?). You need to have moments where you go flat out, like sprinting, or where you work hard doing some heavy lifting. It keep you going, and does a myriad of wonderful things for your fine-tuned machine-of-a-body. So Paul will say in 1 Corinthians 9:27 that he makes his body his slave, and it works hard.
B. Spiritual Life
No one can really experience long, healthy life without care given to the invisible side of their being, the spirit or heart. The health of your intangible self is intrinsically connected to the health of your body and incidentally your lifespan. Just look at what things like stress do to your physical health, or how child-hood trauma can actually stunt natural development.
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23
C. Eating Right
Ever wonder why the Old Testament Law spent so much time talking about food? I marvel at the fact that Moses comes down the mountain from an encounter with God – face to face – and what does he have? A list of food ingredients (Deut. 14) – among other things!!
So why not shoot for a ripe old age of 120, and quality years at that. From a Biblical perspective, this is not just possible – it’s promised again and again, with ample encouragement to make long life our goal. Follow the owners manual – live long and prosper!
“So be very careful to act exactly as God commands you…so that you’ll have a good life and live a long time.” ~ Moses (Deut. 5:33)