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An Expiry Date

An Expiry Date

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Category: Special Features
The word "Expiry" is not one we hear often. I remember when I was first introduced to the word. We were living in Kenya, East Africa. When traveling back from the United States, we would often bring special treats back to Africa with us — such as our favorite chips (crisps), peanut butter, or whatever we were longing for at the time. That was no problem, but we soon learned that the "expiry" date was important to the customs people at the airport. This is what we refer to as the "expiration" date (or best if used by date). If the expiry date was past or close, more often than not, the product was confiscated by the customs inspector. I really never understood the practice, since these items were for private use, but they almost always asked to see the "expiry" date for products we brought home to Africa with us.

A quote I read this week reminded of the practice of asking for the expiry date. "ENJOY LIFE NOW," the quote read, "IT HAS AN EXPIRATION DATE."

  • While the statement is true, what exactly does that statement mean to us?
  • How do we "enjoy life now"?
  • Should enjoyment be our number one pursuit in life?
  • If it should be our number one pursuit, how do we truly find enjoyment?

Apparently these are really important questions, because in modern Western society, it seems that about 98% of all advertising tells us what we must do to get more enjoyment out of life. To get the most out of life, according to these ads, we must drink more of this kind of soda, eat this food, go to this place, drive this kind of car, wear this kind of deodorant, use this kind of toothpaste, and participate in this sport or activity.

Obviously, the idea of what is considered "enjoyment" is almost as varied as there are people to enjoy things. We often enjoy different things, perhaps even things that our close friends don't find enjoyable. The underlying reality of our individual lives is that we just don't have enough time to experience everything or every place the world tells us will brings us enjoyment. Yes, each of our lives does have an expiry date. There is a limit placed upon how long we can enjoy life, because life will end for each of us. This is a reality we cannot escape: we have an expiry date!

I'm not saying that we should live like some religious folks who avoid all things that might bring laughter or seem frivolous. Not at all; I believe that God gave us the ability to enjoy his creation, but the problem may be in keeping our priorities straight.

Solomon wrote the following:

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 NLT).

Later he also wrote these words:

That's the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone's duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 NLT).

God made us mortals to enjoy some things in life, but our priority must be our relationship with him. To "fear God" means to have "reverence or godly fear or awe" for the Creator of the universe ("Strong's Exhaustive Concordance — http://hlt.me/owXOVN". We can stand in the presence of the God of all the universe and enjoy His love and care every day no matter where we are.

What does all of this have to do with the expiry date?

Well, just this:

We each have one: an expiry date. We can't know for certain when it is. It's not written down for us. There is no imprint or stamp to tell us when we will expire. However, God reminds us:

Each person is destined to (expire) die once and after that comes judgment ... (Hebrews 9:27 NLT).

Yes, we need to live realizing we have an expiry date.

About the Author

Russ Lawson
Russ Lawson is a former missionary to Africa and minister in Ohio. He now works with World Christian Literature Outreach and writes a weekly email devotional, Messages from the Heart. For more information about Russ, click here.

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