The dog said: 'That's a long time to be barking. How about only ten years and I'll give you back the other ten?'
So God agreed.
God created the monkey and said: 'Entertain people, do tricks, and make them laugh. For this, I'll give you a twenty-year life span.'
The monkey said: 'Monkey tricks for twenty years? That's a pretty long time to perform. How about I give you back ten like the Dog did?'
And God agreed.
God created the cow and said: 'You must go into the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves and give milk to support the farmer's family. For this, I will give you a life span of sixty years.'
The cow said: 'That's kind of a tough life you want me to live for sixty years. How about twenty and I'll give back the other forty?'
And God agreed again.
God created man and said: 'Eat, sleep, play, marry and enjoy your life. For this, I'll give you twenty years.'
But man said: 'Only twenty years? Could you possibly give me my twenty, the forty the cow gave back, the ten the monkey gave back, and the ten the dog gave back; that makes eighty, okay?'
'Okay,' said God, 'You asked for it.'
So that is why for our first twenty years we eat, sleep, play and enjoy ourselves. For the next forty years we slave in the sun to support our family. For the next ten years we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren. And for the last ten years we sit on the front porch and bark at everyone.
Life has now been explained to you!
Well that’s obviously a joke but it is based on what many people actually feel about the reality of their lives. Many of us spend much of our adult life struggling to make a living and struggling with family life especially when our children are young or in their teenage years; then we might be looking forward to retirement, hoping perhaps for some time to travel, to pursue hobbies and to relax but at that point ill-health might disrupt our plans! And what about those who go through broken relationships or never marry at all? Is this what life is really meant to be?
I believe God intends much more for us than 80 years of struggle. In fact His desire for us is to live a life that is truly life!
The apostle Paul twice told Timothy, a church leader in New Testament (NT) times (approximately 2000 years ago), to take hold of life.
First in 1 Timothy 6:12 he says
12Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
Then in he goes on:
1 Timothy 6:17-19
17Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment....19.... so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
The NT is written in Ancient Greek (AG) and the word we have translated “take hold of” in English in both verses is epilambanomai (Strong’s Greek 1949), which means to decisively, forcefully take hold of something (to seize it). So Paul is telling us to decisively, forcefully seize this eternal life!
So what is this “life that is truly life” that we should decisively take hold of? It is a life that can only be found IN Jesus and through Jesus
First of all Life is IN Jesus!
The gospel of John, written by the apostle John who was with Jesus for all of His earthly ministry, has a lot to say about life!
John 1:1 calls Jesus the Word because He spoke the world into existence.
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. 3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
And Jesus Himself IS Life. He is quoted in
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
It’s also useful for us to look at the AG word for “life” in the NT.
“Life” is the noun zōḗ (Strong’s Greek 2222) in AG. It means all life, both physical and spiritual life, particularly future existence.
All (zōḗ) life, throughout the universe, physical and spiritual is derived – i.e. it always (only) comes from and is sustained by God Himself .
So John says in these verses that IN Jesus is life and Jesus Himself IS life!
Moreover the life of Jesus is the light for mankind (John 1:4 and John 8:12). Why do we need light? Well obviously so that we can see, but also for life itself- without the light of the sun there would be no life on earth. And without Jesus the Son there would be no life on earth- the Son gave us the sun!
In the light we see clearly. If you need wisdom for decisions in your life and you want greater insight and clarity you need to live constantly in the light that is Jesus!
Colossians 1, speaking of Jesus, spells this out more clearly for us:
16For in him (Jesus) all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
All of life itself holds together in Jesus. Everything has been created for Him and by Him. That includes you and that includes me. You have been created for Him and by Him. You are held together in Him!
John also mentions eternal life:
16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
24 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
The word ‘Eternal’ in these verses is the adjective aiṓnios (Strong’s Greek 166). It is derived from the word aiṓn ("an age which has a particular character and quality"). Eternal (aiṓnios) life not only describes quantity of life– i.e. that it is everlasting, but also its quality.
So we can live in "eternal (aiṓnios) life (zōḗ)" right now, experiencing this quality of God's everlasting life now as a present possession.
From the verses in John 3:16 and John 5:24 we understand that by believing in Jesus we receive eternal life- God’s quality life which lasts forever- and we come out of judgment and pass over from death into eternal life.
If you have believed in Jesus today you already have God quality everlasting life. But are you taking hold of it and possessing it?
Jesus Himself said He came that we might have an abundant life:
John 10:7-10 (Berean study bible)
7Therefore Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9I am the door. If anyone enters in by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and will go out and will find pasture. 10The thief comes only that he might steal and might kill and might destroy. I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.
Our enemy Satan is the one who comes to try and steal from us, kill and destroys us if he can but Jesus came to give us an abundant life. But this abundant life needs to be actively possessed and taken hold of, or seized. The verbs “might steal”, “might kill” and “might destroy” in John 10:10 are in the subjunctive active mood. The subjunctive indicates probability or objective possibility i.e. the action of the verb will possibly happen, depending on certain objective factors or circumstances. So Satan comes to try to steal, kill and destroy but the outcome is not a certainty. It depends on our response to his attempts. Similarly Jesus came that we “may have” abundant life. The verbs “they may have” John 10:10 are also in the subjunctive active mood which means we have an active role in possessing this abundant life, which Jesus wants to give us.
This word “abundant” in the greek is perissós (Strong’s Greek 4053), an adjective which means all-around, "more than" ("abundantly"); beyond what is anticipated, exceeding expectation; "more abundant," going past the expected limit ("more than enough . . . ").
So this eternal, God-quality abundant life needs to be actively possessed! God does not want us to have meagre, low quality lives; Jesus came to give us abundant life!
And do you know what an abundant life should look like?
- It is long
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honour him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation (yeshuah: salvation).”
- It is abundant
2 Corinthians 9:8
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
- It is full of joy, peace and hope
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
- It is a life of righteousness, holiness and wisdom
1 Corinthians 1:30
It is because of him (God) that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption
- It is characterised by peace
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
6Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
- It is characterised by rest instead of weariness
28“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
- It is freedom from fear
Romans 8:15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."
14Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
- It is health and wholeness
35And when the men of that place recognised Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.
16When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17This was to fullfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.”
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
So how do we possess this abundant eternal life?
1. We need to know God and His Son Jesus
Jesus told us the answer:
3Now this is eternal life: that they might know (present subjunctive active) you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
Jesus Himself said eternal life is to “know” God and His Son Jesus Christ.
The word know in this verse is the verb ginṓskō – to know, (Strong’s Greek 1097) especially through personal experience (first-hand acquaintance). To "experientially know" is also intimate knowledge used for example in Luke 1:34, "And Mary [a virgin] said to the angel, 'How will this be since I do not know (ginṓskō = sexual intimacy) a man?'"
So to experience God’s quality of life we need to know God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ personally and intimately. He already knows all about us, but we need to actively get to know Him. The level of our intimacy with God depends on us- He wants to reveal Himself in the deepest possible way but getting to know someone involves spending time with them.
2. We need to believe in Jesus
16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 6:29 says this in the New Living Translation
Jesus told them, "This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent."
3. We need to put our hope in Him
1 Timothy 4:10 ...we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Saviour of all people, and especially of those who believe.
1 Timothy 6:17-19
17Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
4. We need to come to Him like a child
15People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
How do little children behave? They trust and they believe!
The apostle Paul warned us against trusting in human wisdom rather than believing Christ:
8Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. (NLT)
5. We need to feed on Jesus and His word!
32Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
34“Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”
35Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
63The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.
4Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’
So to conclude, Jesus has come to give us a “God-quality” abundant everlasting life which we can have now- but we need to actively possess it, to forcefully seize it! The way to do that is to:
Know God and His Son Jesus personally and intimately
Believe in Jesus
Hope in God
Come to Jesus like a child
Feed on Jesus and His living word
Let's choose to take hold of the life that is truly life today!