How to Live a Long, Good Life

It’s NOT About the Numbers

scaleCurrent weight. Weight lost. Weight gained. Calories burned. Calories consumed. Miles ran. Miles biked. MPH. All numbers that could easily steal my life’s focus. Add into the mix comparison to the numbers of others, and I’m stuck in not being skinny enough or fast enough or in any way good enough.

But the number that messes with my focus worse than any of these is my age. This number derails me the easiest because I can do nothing to change it. My age will increase regardless of what I do and don’t do.

StopwatchAs explained in Aging Gracefully, I struggle with aging. Within that struggle though, I am determined to age gracefully. I want my years this side of Heaven to be meaningful and effective. This requires a right focus, one that pleases God, one where numbers don’t consume me.

Unfortunately, my focus still too easily gets caught by the advertisements and books and news articles toting the keys to longevity. What the world says about living a long, good life catches my attention pretty much every time it enters my awareness.

What does the world say about living a long, good life? Here are two examples representing the world’s view well:

  • Martha Stewart (She’s now 71!) says to eat well, maintain a healthy weight, stay physically active, get quality sleep, wear sunscreen, collaborate with a good primary care doctor regularly, find your passion, connect with others, stop complaining & stay curious.
  • The Huffington Post says to avoid 7 things in order to age gracefully: Wearing too much makeup, eating too much salt, negativity, watching too much TV, too much sun, stress & overindulging.

Most similar sources say basically the same things, and they’re not wrong. The problem I have with this advice is that it never seems like enough. When I focus on what my culture and science says to live a long, good life, I never find lasting peace. The only satisfaction I’ve ever found, the kind that left me truly feeling peaceful with my life’s focus, is that shaped by my Creator’s intentions.

What does the Bible say about living a long, good life?

They key difference between what the world says and what Scripture says about living a long, good life is that Scripture points to a life not defined by the number of years but instead by satisfaction with days lived. And the only times I’ve been satisfied with my days lived are when God is satisfied with them.

God’s satisfaction with my days comes through living out His Word, which tells me that a long, good life comes when I…

  1. Control my tongue. (Psalm 34:12-14, 1 Peter 3:10)
  2. Avoid evil. (Psalm 34:12-14)
  3. Do good. (Psalm 34:12-14)
  4. Pursue peace. (Download Pursuing Peace study)

In a practical “How do I live this out?” sense, the difference between the world’s view and God’s view of living a long, good life involves focus. When I focus on what the world says, my focus goes toward myself. When I hone in on what God says, my focus aims directly at pleasing Him. My focus determines my reality.

So while the physical aspects of our lives DO have some value, and measuring them at times can be helpful toward our productivity (which we’ll talk about next week), priority goes toward godliness, toward living to please God, which has value not just now but into eternity (1 Timothy 4:8).

DISCUSSION: What do you see as the key difference between the world’s and God’s views on living a long, good life? What other principles does Scripture give for living a long, good life?

12 thoughts on “How to Live a Long, Good Life

  1. Age is a reflection of time. Once in the past, we cannot reclaim it. God points to wisdom as the key to a good life (Prov 3) and that we should make an accounting (number) our days (Psalm 90). Embrace every day as a gift. Age should translate to growing in wisdom. I cannot do what I used to be able to do, but because I was able to do what I used to do, I am who I am today. Age marks the experience which we need to be wiser as we get older. Embrace age as a gift to be cherished not as a curse, This does not mean that I do not look back either – as I do, and wish I still had some of the same passion I once had, but then I have new passions that I never dreamed of when I was younger either. I guess God is pretty wise… Just some of my thoughts about this subject.

    • Great thoughts, my friend. Wisdom is a blessing of age. We are too value every day we have. In that, I am purposing to live each day more fully rather than thinking about what was or what will be. Learning to "embrace every day as a gift," as you suggest. Thanks, Coach!

  2. Oh Kari, You're talking my struggle. I can't do anything about my age or the effects of gravity. I've reached the point where I feel like everything is qualified. I no longer look "great" it gets the added "great for my age." I keep trying to remind myself of all the Scripture passages about the blessings of age and as you pointed out . . . what God wants so much more than physical beauty or athleticism. Thanks for this!
    My recent post Quotes and Verses to Celebrate Romance

    • I've started to get the qualifications too… from my kids. Focusing on Scripture is key for sure. There is some value in paying attention to the physical, but it certainly should not steal our focus off of Christ & glorifying Him. Let's struggle to victory together in this, my friend.

  3. I concur with you Kari. As I have gotten older and my body has changed in spite of my cycling and trying to watch what I eat, etc. I have had it bored into me "Number your days." I WANT my life to count for something. I don't want to be that guy who was in great shape for his age, but a loser in life and relationships. As my physical appearance changes, i want my spiritual appearance to change and reflect more of the Father.
    My recent post Tribute

  4. Live passionately about the things we love. Seek to be a blessing to those around us. Pursue the God who pursues us. All the while trying to discipline ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually to do those things that help us live like that.

  5. It's interesting how so many other cultures revere the aged, while ours reveres the young. I haven't really thought of aging well in a specific way. I guess just living your life the best you can at 20, 30, 40, 50, and so on will take care of it.
    My recent post Busy Is Good

    • Our culture definitely reveres the young over the aged. Good point, Loren. You're also right in saying we simply need to do the best we can with what we have at any given time. Our best may fluctuate, but it always exists in one way, shape or form.

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