Where do you get life?

“Come on, live a little.”

How many times have you heard that? You were probably being enticed to do something you knew in your heart to be wrong, right?

“But it feels good.”

OK. It’s starting to sound a little like an ABC After School Special, but you get the point, I hope. Sin feels good. It feels like really living. At least, for a while.

But the psalmist knew a better way.

Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.

Psalm 119:37

He knew that the temptation to sin with his eyes was very great. It was great because looking on those things felt good. It fulfilled something he longed for. It scratched an itch he had.

I sometimes wonder what the psalmist specifically thought about when he wrote about “worthless things.” If he wrote today, I suspect he would have in mind the kinds of worthless things that one can see on much of television, in movies and on the internet. He would probably include a lot of books and magazines. And maybe he would go so far as to suggest that many of the special things we hold dear — like sports, hunting, and entertainment — are in reality “worthless things.”

Why might he suggest that those things are worthless? Later in the psalm he wrote, “The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces” (119:72). Then he wrote, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth” (119:103). Then again, “Therefore I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold” (119:127).

The comparable worth of even the most valuable things in his time wasn’t even worth considering next to God’s Word. If he had that view of wealth and fine foods, surely the lesser things in our time would have to be included.

For the psalmist, though, the alternative to worthless things was clear: “give me life in your ways.” The psalmist knew that real life — genuine, lasting, joy-filled life — was found only in God and his design for our lives.

But he also recognized that life in God’s ways was not something he could do for himself. He knew that turning away from the worthless things of this world was something he would need help to do. That’s why he asked God. It was a prayer: “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.”

God desires to give us life in his ways. He is here as the perfect fulfillment for our lives. Like the psalmist, have you come to recognize the many worthless things from which you try to get life? Have you asked God to give you life in his ways?

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Is Jesus More Valuable Than Life?

Have you thought about what it will be like to be with Christ after you die? (One of you is going to say, “Didn’t they write a song about that?”) It’s true. I can only imagine what it will be like to see Jesus face to face. But as amazing as that will be, the reality is that we still have to depart this world. And for each of us that means death.

 

Life or Death

 

Paul reflected on this reality in his letter to the Philippians. In the first part of his letter he expressed his confidence in Christ and his desire to honor him whether by his life or by his death (1:20). At this time in his life Paul felt the weight of death. Would he have to die for his faith in Christ? Or would he continue to live and be fruitful in his labor (1:22)?

 

I Choose Death

 

Check out what Paul really wanted.

“My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” (1:23).

How many of us could say the same thing? Sure, most of us would agree that it would be awesome to be with Jesus! But is Christ so valuable to us that we would be willing to die this day to be with him? Is He far better than our next breath?

 

The Value of Jesus

 

For Paul, He was. This life, as wonderful and joy-filled as it can be, is far less than Christ himself. Paul didn’t love this world too much. He was filled with hope and joy in Christ! His hope and joy was not in this life. This life is filled with opportunities to be faithful in service to God, but it is not all there is. There is more. There is Christ.

I want to love Christ so much that being with him means more than all of the pleasures of this world. I don’t want to love anything more than Christ. All that I can experience in this life is pale in comparison with knowing Jesus. My desire is to depart and be with Christ. That is far better.

What about you?