After the "Cold War" was over, a squadron of Russian pilots was invited to participate in tactical war games at a U.S. Air Force base. A gala dinner was planned by the Base Commander. Thinking to relax the guests, he offered a WW II toast to open the meal. Smiling, he lifted his glass and said, in Russian, "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you may die."
The Russian pilots became very quiet and they hardly ate; most left quite early. Thinking they didn't care for the food, the Commander asked a Russian pilot what went wrong.
"Well, comrade commander," he said, "I thought it was going well until your toast. I don't know what you were meaning to say, but what came out was 'Feast, drink and make happy, for tomorrow we will kill you'."
No matter how you translate it, it doesn't make for good advice to live by, though it certainly fits in with our culture's view of the purpose of life. "Live it up! We're all going to die soon, and you can't enjoy anything beyond the grave, so just focus on bringing yourself pleasure without regard to what is right or wrong."
It sounds very modern, but it's been around a long, long time. In fact, Paul said it was a philosophy that might make sense if there was no hope of a resurrection for us.
"If the dead do not rise, 'Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!'" (I Cor. 15:32b)
But knowing that there will be a resurrection and a judgment and an eternity to follow, we know that there has to be more to guide our lives than just the satisfaction of personal pleasure.
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