Preventive Measures for Life

December 23rd, 2008

Focus Text: Proverbs 10: 27 (NLT)

 27 Fear of the Lord lengthens one’s life,
      but the years of the wicked are cut short.

 

Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

Death is inevitable . . . yikes, that’s a real encouraging intro, eh?  It’s true, though.  I sometimes catch myself saying to my wife, “Hey, if I ever die . . .”  But then I realize that what I should be saying is, “when I die . Pending the certain infiltration of the supernatural into our world and the culmination of prophetic eternity, we are all destined for a physical death.  The question in question is when.

The “when” really gets to people.  There is nothing more tragic in our world than a death the seemingly occurs prematurely.  I’ve stood over many a casket and thought to myself, “Why now?  This just doesn’t seem right.”  It’s a very difficult place to stand and my heart goes out to all of those who have found themselves there.  But independent of the pain that death causes, the reality of the physical ending point of our lives is as certain as anything we know in this world.  Sooner or later, death awaits us all.

But society doesn’t seem fully convinced, hence we spend an enormous amount of time, energy, and money in an effort to keep death away as long as possible.  Hey, I don’t blame us!  I want to live as long as possible in the best health possible . . . there is nothing wrong with this desire.  There is a multi-billion dollar industry in our world that is centered around the avoidance, or at least the postponement, of death called preventive medicine.

Preventive medicine comes in many forms, but it’s basic description is: action taken before one becomes ill to avoid the illness altogether.  Instead of waiting until I have a heart attack because of excessive cholesterol, I began taking Lipitor in my early-twenties.  But isn’t that silly?  The odds of a guy my age having heart problems are pretty low.  Indeed, but my actions aren’t just for the twenty one year old me . . . they are also for the sixty year old me.  My actions now are meant to affect my life then.  Preventive medicine is like a preemptive strike against those things that threaten to steal away our health.  It’s a proactive approach to health issues instead of a reactive one.  

Although I wholeheartedly support the logical and practical use of some preventive physical health measures, this passage reminds me of the importance of spiritual preventive health measures as well.  “Fear of the Lord lengthens one’s life . . .”  We’ve discussed this kind of fear before.  Again, this fear is the kind that leads us to serve God in reverent awe.  

It isn’t inconceivable for one to be absolutely terrified of an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, all-powerful Deity whose fleeting whims can create whole universes and whose sneeze could disrupt the space-time continuum.  But even though God is enthroned in this kind of mind-blowing power, He has chosen to allot us His kindness and love.  Sure, we’re still mindful and humble because of who He is, but we can also live confident that by making the choice to accept His mercy, we can avoid His wrath.  Now, we fear Him through a meek, complete devotion to His will for our lives.  Is that an exhaustive description of the fear of the Lord?  Of course not, but it will suffice for now to help us understand it’s importance.

The fear of the Lord is an incredible thing because it benefits us both spiritually and physically.  That “lengthening of one’s life” thing means that not only will our spiritual lives have greater impact, but also that there will be years added to our physical lives as well.  Now, be wise and don’t take this as a guarantee that good people will always live to be old; that’s not what this means.  But it does speak to the quality of one’s life in every way imaginable.  What we do now will affect us later either positively or negatively.

The flip side is pretty direct: “but the years of the wicked are cut short.”  That’s as straightforward as it gets.

Fear of the Lord is the kind of preventive measure that can lengthen one’s life in both quality and quantity of years.  Put that in your fancy-shmancy health magazine!

 

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~ by johndriver on December 23, 2008.

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