The Brevity of Life

Psalms 90:10,12 The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

Just recently, a beloved member in our church passed away and went home to be with the Lord. This incident has brought me out of the bubble I live in, the bubble called the routine of life and has caused me to ponder on things that really matter. More importantly, it has reminded me that life is short. In Psalm 90, Moses asked the Lord to teach us to realise the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. If we live with the active knowledge that we are on earth only for a certain time, we will hopefully adjust our mindset to focus not on the ‘here today and gone tomorrow’ but rather on those things that having a lasting impact. Our lives on earth are not meaningless just because they are short (even if we live for 90 years, it is still short in light of an entire eternity). Our lives have a purpose and when we realise what it is we will be able to live more purposefully, right here on earth.

Perhaps what I am going to ask you is nothing ground-breaking? You have probably thought of these things before, at some point in your life. Even if that is the case, I would still ask you. Because I know that in our daily lives, most of us are prone to forgetting these things. The routine and busyness of life just gets in the way. So, since no one but God alone knows the number of years on earth that we will live, let me ask you (and me) two important questions:

  1. What is the legacy you are leaving on this earth? (what is it that you are handing down to your next generation?)
  2. What are you doing today that has eternal value? (what activities are you involved in, or what sort of work are you doing in your daily life that has a lasting impact?)
    God is eternal. And this eternal God has called us to know Him through His Son Jesus (Psalm 90:2; John 17:3). What a great privilege! Everything and anything we do that helps us to know Him or know Him better, and that is in line with His will is worthwhile. Anything we do on earth that matters to the Lord is of lasting impact. Because our actions and obedience out of faith in Jesus Christ while on earth are pleasing to the Lord and therefore will last forever (Matthew 6:19-21). What are some of the practical things we could do today which will have a lasting impact?

Study God’s Word and Pray – because these are ways through which we can Know Him, His will and His ways. We can please God only if we know what pleases Him and what doesn’t. We know also that only by faith can we please Him (Hebrews 11:6). It is not with our own efforts, but by faith alone. So, every time we pray or study the Scriptures, we know that this has eternal value. Reading the Bible for hours is not waste of time. It is the best use of time.
Invest in People – why? Because quite simply people matter to God. And no, not just the good ones. Everyone. Even the annoying aunt who always has a sharp critical comment for you. Or the guys who take pleasure in beheading people who don’t agree with their ideologies! After all, God sent Jesus on earth to die for everyone, so that whoever (no conditions attached on the type) believes in Him has eternal life. Are we sharing this good news with people? Another way to invest in people who know Jesus as their Saviour already is to disciple them. You may be a relatively new believer. But there may be others who may be even newer. Spend time with people. Listen to their hearts. God is pleased because He loves those people and every time you show love to people, you are loving Him as well. What about raising children, investing in them so they get to know Jesus? Spending time with your kids rather than going for a high career is not a waste of talent and life. It is using your God-given talent to lead another human being to eternal life! Another important thing is God cares about relationships. He cares whether we treat other people right or not. He cares whether we forgive others or not. Last Sunday, our pastor in the sermon mentioned something that has stayed with me. He said “do it before it is too late.” Whether it is forgiving or making up with someone, it would be wise to do it now. For we don’t want to leave (or lose someone) with bitterness in our hearts.
Working hard is a good habit. But if we work hard at something that only causes us sleepless nights, anxious hearts and will ultimately be destroyed (Ecclesiastes 2:22, 23) then perhaps it is time that we reconsider the time and effort we are investing in such short-lived things. Sometimes we just cannot help it if our boss or colleagues at work, or a child at home cause us to be anxious. But those can also be opportunities for living with an eternal perspective. When we pray about these things, we are relying on God’s help, peace and wisdom. As far as the short-lived things are concerned, I don’t want to spell them out. I think each individual (if one gives a real thought) can find out for him/herself what things in life are really short-lived and uncertain. Contrast this to something that we do for the Lord – it will not go in vain. The Bible assures us that nothing we do for the Lord will go in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). True, God gives us work to do in order to earn a living (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12). He also gives us good things to enjoy. But what is my attitude towards these things? Do they consume me or am I enjoying them and working at my job sincerely but knowing that these things will not last forever? If I were to go tomorrow, can I confidently say I know Jesus because that’s all that matters from an eternal perspective? All the material things that I saved and stored up will eventually have no value. Yes, they may well sustain my children and their children for some time. But even that will come to an end sooner or later.

We are already living in times where natural calamities, disasters, wars and rumours of wars are becoming a daily reality. We need to only read the news and sense that Bible prophecies concerning end times might just be unfolding right in front of our eyes (read Jesus’ Olivet discourse in Matthew chapter 24)! We may not have that much time left on this earth – what are we storing up? Something that has lasting value or something that is here now but will be blown away any moment? Even as a church we can get caught up in programmes, activities and numbers that we lose the real focus. Every so often it becomes about us, numbers, politics, fights. About charismatic preachers, about who is right, about the colour of walls. If we are not careful, we can easily lose our focus on Jesus and living lives to please God. Life is short. As a church, let’s love each other. Pray for each other. Encourage each other to live holy lives. It is very easy to copy the world. Let’s imitate the Lord Jesus instead! With His help. Amen to that?

Article used with permission. Paushali is happily married to Mark and together they have five children. Paushali attends Crosslight Baptist Church in Singapore. For more information about Paushali, visit her online ministry at