Do You Choose Life or Death?

June 19, 2023

It has been dubbed the “sickest ever” video game because players only have one aim - to massacre as many people as possible in a “genocide crusade.” The game is called ‘Hatred’ (released in June 1, 2015). It is the story of a lone wolf gunman who “hates the world” and acts out his fantasy of brutally murdering the public and police because “no life is worth saving.” Fortunately, the game has never been a big seller, but there are plenty of video games that are very violent, where killing and death are a central part of the action.

Numerous times in our lives God’s word challenges us to make a choice between death and life. When Joshua was ending his career as the leader of the twelve tribes he said, “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). It is interesting that every study done on the benefits of you and your house choosing the Lord brings great life as the following study shows.

A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology (2015) by researchers at the London School of Economics and Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands found that the secret to sustained happiness lies in participation in religion. Researchers looked at four areas: 1) volunteering or working with a charity; 2) taking educational courses; 3) participating in religious organizations; 4) participating in a political or community organization. Of the four, researchers found participating in a religious organization was the only social activity associated with sustained happiness.

The study analyzed 9,000 Europeans who were older than 50. The report that studied older Europeans also found that joining political or community organizations lost their benefits over time. In fact, researchers say the short-term benefits from those social connections often lead to depressive symptoms later on. Although healthier people are more likely to volunteer, the researchers found no evidence that volunteering leads to better mental health. Benefits could be outweighed by other negative impacts of volunteering, such as stress.

None of these drawbacks presented themselves with participation in a religious organization. The researchers noted that it is unclear whether the benefits of participating in a religious organization are connected to being in the religious community, or to the faith itself. To this uncertainty I would say the answer is yes, both faith and a spiritual family help to make us healthier and happier as people.

I found this interesting illustration of how much stronger choosing the things that bring happiness and life are to our lives. A kindergarten teacher decided to let her class play a game. The teacher told each child in the class to bring along a plastic bag containing a few apples. Each apple will be given a name of a person that the child hates, so the number of apples that a child will put in his/her plastic bag will depend on the number of people he/she hates.

When the day came, every child brought some apples with the names of the people he/she hated. Each child had two to five apples. The teacher told the children to carry the apples in the plastic bag with them wherever they go, for one week. As the days passed, the children started to complain about the unpleasant smell let out by the rotten apples. The children with five apples complained the most as they had to carry heavier bags. After a week, the children were relieved because the game had finally ended.

The children had plenty of things they hated about the apple game. The teacher said, “This is what happens when you carry hatred for someone inside your heart. The stench of hatred will contaminate your heart and you will carry it with you wherever you go. If you cannot tolerate the smell of rotten apples for just one week, can you imagine what it is like to have the stench of hatred in your heart for your lifetime?”

How many apples would you have to put in your bag? Take a moment and give them names. Is it time to get that hatred out of your life? Would you say that most of your choices fall on the side of life or death? When you think about the things you do for entertainment, do they fall in the category of life or death? Take time to ask God to help you choose life more often in your life. (To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles see,