By Chris WittsWednesday 13 Apr 2022Morning Devotions with Chris WittsDevotionsReading Time: 1 minute
It was about 2,500 years ago that the Greek philosopher Socrates made a statement which got him into a lot of trouble. Socrates was considered by many to be the wisest man in ancient Greece. As a teacher, he was stirring up trouble among the Athens aristocracy and especially the youth who were being challenged to think for themselves.
He ended up on trial for what he said, “The unexamined life is not worth living”. And he was executed. Rather incredible when you think about it. Socrates at age 70 was put on trial for encouraging his students to challenge the accepted beliefs of the time and think for themselves. The sentence was death and although he had the option of suggesting an alternative punishment, he preferred death.
But what does this popular phrase mean? No-one has all the answers. But it seems that people who do examine their lives, who think about where they’ve been, how they got here, and where they’re going, are much happier people. As no-one’s life is free from trouble and strife, having some sense of where one belongs in the universe provides a context for understanding how all the life elements fit together.
Examining our lives
I think it’s better to say, What elements make up a coherent and meaningful life? What are the things that are most important to you? What are the principles and guidelines that run your life? These are tough questions—but go together as examining the inner life I think.
A life worth living is a life that needs examining. If we don’t give ourselves some sort of an evaluation, what direction in life should be taken? A life examination is like creating a map of yourself:
- Where are you financially speaking?
- What kind of family do you have?
- What is your goal and objectives in life?
- Where would you want to be when you grow old?
By examining your life, you have a clear map and a sense of direction and that’s what makes life worth living.
Surely self-examination also helps a person understand others, understand what motivates them, understand why they do the things they do. In that way it increases empathy, explains why you like someone and helps to let go of damaging people. Plus a lot more.
Are we born with a map for life?
But there is a lot more to this famous quote—The unexamined life is not worth living. Are we guilty of living a ‘routine’ life rather than a ‘reflective’ life?
Like a suburban church in Adelaide, famous for its eye-catching slogans promoting its Sunday services, once offered the following thoughtful phrase: Some people never sing; they die with all their music still inside them.
We all need a sense of belonging and meaning. Are human beings born with a map for life? Can that map lead people to happiness? If there is a map, every human being can attain happiness easily. Is there any map for seeking happiness? How can people get hold of the ‘map’ to happiness?
For Christianity, happiness and God have an inseparable important relation. The Bible—a record of the relationship between God and humans—guides people to happiness through God’s world. The Bible says, “Happy are those who hear God’s voice and make His message their way of life” (Luke 11:28). Christians emphasise believing in God and consider happiness as the byproduct of believing in God. It means that if people believe in God, all of them can automatically gain happiness regardless of what kind of situation they are in.
In this way, Christians think that when they seek their own happiness first, and God’s will second, they fail to find the achievement that human beings truly seek. The less they concern themselves with their own happiness and the more about God, the happier they can get. In addition, whatever unfavorable event happened, Christians believe that God will take care of them; if happiness did not address itself in this lifetime, it will be addressed in the next.
The process to lasting happiness
In order to improve oneself, Christians always believe in God and rely on God to forgive and help them. Therefore, deepening the faith and drawing closer to God is the process that can bring real and lasting happiness. People cannot be complete and gain happiness without God.
After all who wants to live a wasted life? When was the last time you sat down and examined your life?
In the Old Testament pages we meet a wise man, Solomon. We read in Ecclesiastes that he was always searching for answers and, at the end of his search, Solomon discovers something important. Having determined that there is no ultimate meaning to be found ‘under the sun’ or in this finite life, he says:
Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart. (Ecclesiastes 5:19-20 – NIV)
If Solomon were alive today I would say to him, Don’t be so gloomy. With Jesus in your heart, life can be transformed into a satisfying experience.