A recent study, detailed in Health magazine, “found that four bad behaviors—smoking, drinking too much alcohol, not exercising, and not eating enough fruits and veggies—can hustle you into an early grave, and, in effect, age you by as many as 12 years.”
These results don’t surprise me. The medical community has known this for a long time. What does surprise me is that after an extensive Internet search, none of the top articles I read addressing the topic of longevity reported what I learned this morning during my Bible reading time.
I discovered three secrets to help us live a long and happy life:
1. Keep God’s commands.
Proverbs 3:1-2 says: "My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart,
for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity." Wow, not just prolong my life, but prolong my life MANY years. AND bring me prosperity.
How does this work? Let’s think it through. If I’m honoring God’s commands, I’m not going to make many of the lifestyle choices that lead to premature death. I suspect thieves and murderers have a considerably shorter life expectancy than law-abiding citizens. Those destined for the electric chair certainly do.
Honoring God’s commands also means that we’re less likely to engage in reckless or foolish behavior, irresponsible eating and drinking, and life-destroying relationships. A woman who has chosen to honor God with her body won’t be sleeping around and catching an STD, nor will she be driving drunk.
If she’s applying God’s commandments to her life, she’s also going to be developing solid, strong friendships, a life enhancing quality, according to Prevention magazine. She’s going to be working hard caring for her family and her home, another life-extending behavior. And she’s going to have less stress, because it’s impossible to simultaneously worry and trust God.
From a financial standpoint (remember the second half of the promise in Psalm 3:1-2, prosperity), applying God’s commands mean we’re less likely to engage in financially reckless behavior. We’ll save instead of spending carelessly. We’ll give to the church and other worthy causes. We’ll avoid indebtedness, repay what we owe in a timely manner, and pay our taxes. Financial advisers like Dave Ramsey agree that following these practices will help bring about prosperity.
What do you know? God’s Word is spot on. “Walk in all the way that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess” (Deut. 5:33).
2. Honor our parents.
Deuteronomy 5:16 commands us to "Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you.” Ephesians 6 calls it “the first command with a promise.” A promise. From God. To bless us.
Honoring our parents means listening carefully to and considering their wisdom. It means treating them with respect, serving them unselfishly, and making time for them. When we honor our parents, we take into account their human frailties, personality quirks, and sin and love them anyway.
Honoring them becomes an extension of worship to our Lord, our heavenly Father, and this pleases God. So much, that he promises to bless us and extend our lives.
The final secret to help us live a long and happy life isn’t limited to our physical lives. If we put this next step into practice, we’ll not only have a reasonably good chance of living to a ripe, old age, we’ll live forever.
3. Believe in Jesus Christ.
Our lives on this earth are fleeting. Following God’s commands and honoring our parents will help extend and enhance them, but one day they will end. Our souls, however, will live on. What we’ve done with Jesus Christ will determine whether our souls will spend eternity in God’s presence or eternally separated from him.
Thankfully, God has made provision for this as well. John 3:16 records his plan: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Medical science has discovered much about longevity and life-extending practices. The truths found in God’s Word form the basis of this knowledge. Obeying God’s Word and honoring our parents will increase our chances of living a long life, but there are no guarantees. Godly believers who honor their parents still die, and some of them die young. This is why what matters most is what happens after our physical bodies die. Entrusting our souls to Jesus Christ is our only hope.
But it is a strong and sure hope.
Now it’s your turn. What life-extending practices have you embraced, and with which ones are you still struggling? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.