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THEOLOGY > Future > The Final Judgment > Brevity of Life  


Life is the brief period between birth and death. In spite of the age at which one dies, it is still true that life is characterized by brevity, a brevity that is undeniable and disconcerting. The Scriptures affirm the shortness of life and experience confirms the affirmation. The briefness of life is taught in both Testaments:

My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle . . . Oh, remember that my life is a breath (Job 7:6-7; see: v. 16; 8:9);

My days are swifter than a runner . . . they pass by like swift ships, like an eagle swooping on its prey (Job 9:25-26; see: 16:22);

Man who is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower and fades away; he flees like a shadow and does not continue (Job 14:1-2; see: 10:20);

For He remembered that they were but flesh, a breath that passes away and does not come again (Ps. 78:39; see: 39:5; 89:47; 90:5-6; 144:4);

For my days pass away like smoke, and my bones burn life a furnace (Ps. 102:3);

My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass (Ps. 102:11);

I am gone like a shadow at evening (Ps. 109:23);

The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass (Isa. 40:7-8);

What is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away (Jas. 4:14).

Consider the words used to communicate the shortness of life: “a weaver’s shuttle,” “a breath,” “a runner,” “an eagle,” “swift ships,” “smoke,” “shadow,” “grass,” and “vapor”. For a moment, a very brief flash, these things have their moment, and then they are gone. So it is with man.

Man is born, he lives, and he dies. And the living, the time between the birth and the demise, is so short. As quickly as smoke or vapor dissipates, as grass or flowers spring up and fade, as a shadow lengthens and then disappears, so it is with the span of our lives. Life is given and life is taken; we are here today and gone tomorrow.

It is ironic that the more the individual comes to understand and even appreciate life, the closer he is to his departure. It is almost as if by the time one realizes what it means to be alive, the life is ebbing and soon gone. It is at the end of life that an understanding of the brevity of life takes hold.

Coupled with the emergence of the realization of the shortness of life is insight into the value of life. Because my length of life is limited, I must understand that the length of my life is invested with profound worth by virtue of the fact that it is made in the image of God (see: Image of God). My time is ever so brief, so my time is ever so valuable.

Additionally what time I have is given—it is a gift. It is not really of my own doing, neither is it the culmination of random chance and evolution. I have been blessed with life, albeit a brief life. So in my awareness of its brevity and because of its Source, my life has significance and great potential. I must redeem my time.

In light of the briefness of life consideration should relentlessly be given to priorities. In other words, a decision must be made regarding what is important. The trivial is not deserving of time and energy; only those things of significance and, therefore, that have eternal consequences are deserving of attention.

One should live with the awareness that time is short, regardless of the number of years that one lives. Even if the years are many, relatively speaking, the time is brief; and awareness of the limited time should cause one to evaluate priorities, as well as spent each moment with profit.

But to accomplish this is nearly impossible, even for the believer. It is a struggle to put off the inconsequential and to put on the essential. Human nature gravitates toward the transient and the novel; man is in love with the moment. Eternity is not considered. But such is a foolish life.

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