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The Myth of Y.O.L.O.

Updated on December 23, 2017
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I am a Christian pastor who wishes to bring glory to God in all that I do, and to help people through my writing to know Him better.

Living for Eternity

Y.O.L.O. is an acronym that apparently went viral a few years ago. It has been called the Carpe Diem expression for the Twitter generation. For those who don't know, "Carpe Diem" means "Seize the Day". "Y.O.L.O", on the other hand, tells us "You Only Live Once." The term is meant to make a person go for the gusto, and live their dreams fully, milking life for all it's worth and not wasting a single moment of it. After all, you only live once, right?

To tell you the truth, if I had lived my life by that philosophy, I'd probably have done many things differently. It is a philosophy that, taken to its ultimate conclusion, tells me to live for self and get everything I can from life, without regard for others. I can't waste time thinking about things or people that don't make me happy.

Some see this philosophy as a reason to go out and smoke, take drugs, drink, curse and party their lives away because, since you only live once, you need to live it up while you can. Others look at it as a reason to make a name for themselves and do something with their lives that matters. Though I can agree that a person should live a life of purpose, I disagree with the whole premise upon which it is based by accepting Y.O.L.O.

In its defense, this is a phrase which accurately relays the shortness of life as we know it on this earth. Even though modern medicine has vastly improved both the quality and quantity of our lives on this planet, yet most of us will live less than 100 years. And, for those who have been around awhile, we can attest that they go by like a rocket launched into space. As the New Testament Book of James tells us: "What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while, and then vanishes" (James 4:14).

However, what this acronym doesn't relay to us is that this life isn't all that there is. It fails to see the truth that death doesn't, in fact, end it all. You don't only live once. A more accurate acronym might be "L. I. L.O.E." We need to "Live in Light of Eternity."

A Popular Show and a Popular Myth

Life Beyond the Grave

The Bible teaches that what we do in this life ultimately matters because there is a holy God who is our creator and will judge each one of us when we die. Hebrews 9:27 proclaims: "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment."

For those who don't have a relationship with Jesus Christ by accepting that he died for them as their substitute for sin and who rose again, the Scriptures don't give any hope of that judgment going well. Their works are not good enough to merit anything but condemnation, for God cannot look upon sin. (John 3:36). They will end up separated from God in an eternal punishment called Hell.

For those persons without Christ, you only have this life you're now living to repent and come to Jesus Christ to save you from your sins. You can't do this after death. And if you do accept him, when you stand before that holy, sinless God it will be the righteousness of Jesus Christ your Savior and not your own that will allow you to spend an eternity in Heaven enjoying a New Heaven and a New Earth where there will be no more mourning or crying or pain. And you will live life as it was meant to be (Titus 3:5; Revelation 21).

For those who are saved, what you do in this life matters because God has promised rewards to those who live their lives in service to him (II Corinthians 5:10). We have all been given gifts and talents to use to bring glory to the God who created us and he expects us to use them wisely.

The works of those who live in light of eternity are compared to gold, silver and precious stones that will survive the fires of judgment. Those works will remain to be rewarded. The works not done in this light but done for self are compared to wood, hay and stubble. These are works that, when passed through fiery judgment, will be burned up and the person will suffer a loss of rewards. That person will be saved but will not have all that he could have had if he had lived a life that pleased God. He is said to be saved "yet so as by fire", or "only as one escaping through the flames", as the New International Version of the Bible tells us (I Corinthians 3:10-15).


I like the phrase made up to make fun of the Y.O.L.O. philosophy. Y.O.D.O. means "You only die once!" We are indeed created in the image of God which makes us eternal beings. But this life we are now living is short, ending in death and judgement, followed by eternal punishment or eternal reward. The sooner we realize this, the sooner we will start to live lives that truly matter, both in this life and throughout eternity. Someone has said of this time we are living: "Only one life will soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last." That about sums it up. Y.O.L.O. is a myth. We must not allow it to ruin our forever.

© 2017 Jeff Shirley


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