"What if you only had one month to live?" is the wrong question

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

What if you only had one month to live?

It’s a common question these days, showing up everywhere from songs (“Live like you were dying”) to books (One Month to Live: Thirty Days to a No-Regrets Life) to YouTube videos (“The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch). It’s a powerful question that has the ability to inspire, to bring life into focus, and to help us take risks that are in line with what we really want.

It’s also a misleading question. The better, more accurate question, is this:

What if you will live forever?

You see, if I believe that my life will end in one month, and that I will cease to exist after that, then there are many things I would want to experience. I would travel to far-away places, sample exotic cuisine, indulgence my senses and cravings, and spend what I have accumulated, because I can’t take it with me. But what if death is not the end, but rather the beginning of an eternity spent with God? What if the things that endure are people, as well as everything that I have done in service to God instead of my own self-centered desires? What if the most sumptuous food this world has to offer pales in comparison with the eternal feast that awaits, and the most stunning natural wonders will look like a garbage dump when compared to the landscape of the new heavens and new earth?

“As it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’
(1 Corinthians 2:9).

What if, in our quest to “live life to the fullest,” we end up wasting our lives on that which in the end will be meaningless?

Asking ourselves how we would live if we only had one month left on this earth is not entirely a bad thing. It can lead us to get right with God, tell our loved ones how much we love and appreciate them, and to perhaps do some noble things that we have been putting off. But in the end, the better question to ask is how we should live if once we die, we will be with God forever. After all, if eternal life is the reality, then we will still love deeply and with generosity and grace. But we’ll also live with wisdom with regards to how to spend our time, money, and energy. After all, if we know we are moving out of our house in a month to live somewhere else, we won’t invest all of our money into that temporary living situation. In the same way, it is foolish to live life so as to maximize our experiences of pleasure here in this world, when the world as we know it will soon pass away, and only that which was glorifies God will live on eternally.

If you know Jesus, then live your life as if you are going to live forever.

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