Yesterday I ran to the store to get some things for family coming over for dinner. As I checked out I saw a middle aged woman behind me with the above phrase tattooed on her forearm. I couldn’t help myself, so I asked her, “What does it say?” She replied, “Better to live one day as a tiger than a thousand years as a sheep.”
The quote comes from Tipu Sahib c 1750–99, sultan of Mysore in India. It captivated my thoughts to wonder why a middle aged woman would have this saying tattooed on her forearm. Why was it so important to her? What inspired her to have this as her “life verse”? It’s quite a clear statement to the world that it’s better to be the predator than the prey. I wonder what kind of relationship she has with her husband?
As I thought about this I realize we all, Christian or not, live by something. We each adopt a motto, a world view to commentary our lives. We each live by some written or unwritten philosophy of life.
A few months ago we had a waiter in a restaurant with “1 Corinthians 16:13” tattooed on his forearm. Again I asked, “what does it say?” He replied, “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” Quite a different message.
Many I have known have a life verse they have adopted. The rule of life is determined by the heart and desire of the one who chooses it. For years my verse was Philippians 1:21 “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” That was my life verse for a long time, but as I grew I realized it really wasn’t true of me. I’m still trying to figure out where I am now, what would describe my life today.
Whether written or not we each have a view of life, a driving force that determines how we act, interact and navigate. Whether it’s a tattoo or a verse or quote we gravitate toward something to give us a compass, a direction. It’s often the reason for conflict in relationships. We don’t realize the other person is operating by a different rule of life and we collide as we try to interact.
Whatever drives your life make sure it gives you clear direction for the course ahead and realize that others are often going in the other direction, operating by a different rule of law. For the Christian, whatever the words that guide you, the goal is the glory of God. Realize, as you encounter the world, that this will always make us sheep in a world of tigers.