Many years ago, at the funeral of a pastor who passed away at 41, I heard some church members say, “Those whom God loved much die young.” It might sound comforting to some loved ones, but it sounded strange and odd to me.
If what they said is true, what about Moses who died at 120, Joshua at 110 and Abraham at 175 years of age? Poor Methuselah, he was left on earth for a good 969 years! God must have loathed him!
The question we should ask is: did God promise health and longevity in His Word? The truth is that there are many clear, scriptural promises regarding longevity; however, there are also conditions attached to them.
It must be noted that we are all custodians of our own bodies and are responsible to observe health laws and not violate safety rules. A believer’s body is the temple of the Lord, and the members of his body ought to be instruments of righteousness and not unrighteousness. This is the core principle of health and longevity.
Obviously, no Christian could live a perfectly sinless life. Should we slip, remember that we have an Advocate in Jesus Christ Who pleads on our behalf, and our Heavenly Father freely forgives. So keep short accounts with God and be quick to repent and receive forgiveness. Having a clear conscience is vital to our well-being.
Proverbs chapters 3 and 4 have a lot to say about health and longevity.
My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands; for length of days and long life and peace they will add to you.
In the Old Testament, God’s Law and commands are found in the first 5 books of the Bible. They are as much God-breathed and inspired as the New Testament Scriptures. Hence, as God’s inspired words, they are also filled with Spirit and Life, according to Christ.
My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh.
Giving God’s Word first place and walking in its light bring health and life to our flesh. How so? Well, it gives us the undergirding peace (Psalm 4:8), which is essential to health, not forgetting its quickening power.
Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones.
Trusting the Lord with all our hearts will certainly keep us in His path of righteousness. Heeding His Word will also keep us away from evil that are destructive to our health and souls.
He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.
The Living Word, Jesus Christ, always brings His healing words to heal and make those who trust Him whole. Not only is He a saving God, He is also a keeping God.
Apart from granting us long life, the wisdom in God’s Word also honours us with blessings, fosters health and makes longevity meaningful and pleasant.
Length of days is in her right hand, in her left hand riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who retain her.
It is clear that God does promise His children health and prosperity, but they come with conditions. There are 4 of them.
1. Keep your bodies from defilement
1 Corinthians 3:16-17
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.
In His mercy, God usually gives the offender time to repent before this severe punishment is meted out. It’s utter folly to continue in sin that is destructive to soul and body.
At the Holy Communion, we are to examine ourselves and discern the Lord’s body, meaning: realise that He had died for both our sin and sickness. Sin brings forth death and sickness is incipient death.
So we are to repent and receive both forgiveness and healing. If we don’t, we could be numbered among those who are sickly and die prematurely (1 Corinthians 11:30-31).
2. Watch our tongues
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
A Christian who is in the habit of speaking godly words is a tree of life (Proverbs 15:4). He speaks life to himself and others. In contrast, those who have a perverse tongue will reap the harvest of broken spirits and lives.
3. Honour your parents
“Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
We are warned that in the last days, many will dishonour their parents (2 Timothy 3:2). That propensity is instigated by Satan who seeks to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10).
4. Mind our words
Who is the man who desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit.
1 Peter 3:10
For “He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit.
Our words are the overflow from the abundance of our thoughts. The only way to change a perverse tongue is to replace evil thoughts with God’s holy word.
This will certainly take time and effort, and a tussle with the devil is inevitable. But we have been given the power over him (Luke 10:19).
The Lord’s benevolent intentions for us are crystal clear: He longs that we partake of His full provision for the total man so that our joy may be full (John 16:24).
So He has stipulated all these wonderful promises in His New Covenant and expects us to keep our part of the bargain. They don’t fall like ripe cherries from a tree. We have to keep believing and appropriating them while learning obedience, just like Christ did while on earth (Hebrews 5:8).
Here’s our final assurance that the Lord’s will for you is longevity and satisfaction.
With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation.”