The Life We Live
There are thousands of pithy statements, quotes if you will, that seek to motivate us toward better living. I have several around the house that are in the form of plaques. One of them is on my dresser, so I can look at it every day. But it has become so much a part of the dresser that I don’t remember what it says…at least I have not paid little much attention to it.
This week I read this little plate. It consists of three imperatives. These were: Live Well, Laugh Often, and Love Much. This week I began to think about these three commands. They seem to have some support from the Bible. Let’s examine them.
When I think about living well, I can only think about what it means to be a Christian. When a person trusts in Christ, eternal salvation becomes a reality. That person is guaranteed to spend eternity with God. The Bible clearly teaches that, for good reason, we should submit to the Jesus Christ, our Lord. The Bible instructs us that much about why we should follow Jesus Christ. First, He is supreme and the Head of the Church—And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.” (Col 1:18). Also that all creation is His work and exists for Him—He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him… (Col 1:15–17). And He holds it all together (…and in Him all things consist. (Col 1:17).
Because of who Jesus is, we should live our lives in commitment to Him. Consider Gal 2:20:
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Paul responded much differently in his response to the Gospel message than did Peter. Paul believed there should be a transformation in the life of the believer (Rom 12:1-2) especially when we consider the death and resurrection of Jesus. Paul said that through the Law, he died to the Law so that he could live for God (Gal 2:19). This thought is also addressed in Rom 7:14 where it says, “Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.” The concept is that to live well be must live for God.
Paul could die to the Law because he was crucified with Christ; it was no longer he who lived, but Christ who lived in him. To understand this passage, one must understand the meaning of union with Christ. This doctrine is derived from passages such as Rom 6:1–6 and 1 Cor 12:13. These passages demonstrated that believers have been baptized by the Holy Spirit into Christ and the church. Therefore, believers share in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.
With full understanding, Paul could proclaim, “I have been crucified with Christ.” Paul realized that a great change had occurred in his life. The Saul that we meet in Acts standing over the execution of Stephen no longer exists…he is dead and his relation to the Law is dead. He now is alive in Christ…Christ lives in him.
But, Christ does not force His way into the believer’s life. Once we have placed our trust in Christ we are expected to exercise faith for our new life…we are to by faith in the Son of God. To live well we must live by faith…our new lives are not driven by works or legal obedience to the Law. We can live well for God because Christ loved us and gave Himself for us.
Thus, how we live is important and it reflects our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
I was not a very happy person as I grew up. I don’t remember enjoying much from my childhood. In fact, I by the time I reached college, I don’t think I knew how to smile. I would say that by the time I reached young adulthood, I was an angry, bitter, and unhappy person. I really didn’t care for people and I had few friends.
Then I placed my faith in Jesus Christ. I trusted that He died for me and that I could trust Him to guide my life. Over time, I learned to smile and to laugh. I actually became a “people-oriented” person. What a transformation. To laugh often one must be filled with joy…joy that can only come from the God of hope.
Let’s consider Rom 15:13 says:
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
This passage describes God as the God of hope. Previously, Paul stated that the Bible was written were for our benefit so that through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures we might have hope (Rom 15:4).
Similarly in our passage, Paul desired God to fill his readers with all joy and peace. The sense of joy used here is one of emotion. It is a state of gladness and great happiness. Joy relates to the delight of anticipation in seeing one’s hopes fulfilled. As we consider this great joy, how can we do anything but laugh often. Peace results from the assurance that God will fulfill those hopes (Phil. 4:7).
Our joy and peace are experienced when we trust in Him. As I ponder the joy and peace that God gives me, and the hope that results from these, I can hardly contain my laughter. The freedom of being alive in Christ, give me great cause to be happy. I can relax in life because it is no longer about me, but it is all about Him who died for me. Now I can laugh often…and I do.
I have had much difficulty with loving others throughout my life. I did not grow up understanding the concept of love. Love was not modeled in my home as I grew up. I had never been challenged to love others or to demonstrate love toward others. As I grew in my relationship with Christ, my ability to love increased. I now have become a people-person and I really can say that I love others. This is of course what Jesus expects from all who trust in Him.
Jesus told His disciples they would survive His absence by obeying His example of love. Love is certainly a major theme of the relationship between man and God (You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength—Deut 6:5) and between man and man (John 13:34-35). Let’s consider this last passage. The passage says,
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
The command is given that we are to exhibit a special love for other believers based on the sacrificial love of Jesus: as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
Our love and support for one another enables us to survive in a world that is becoming increasing hostile to Christianity. As Jesus was the ultimate example of God’s love, we must know embrace His example and model His love to a not so lovely world.
Our love for one-another should reflect Christ’s love for us. This love is a sign to the world as well as to every believer (We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death” —1 John 3:14) that Christianity is rational and real.
It does seem to me that we have reason to live well, laugh often, and love much. Perhaps if we were all to take this to heart, we could impact the world in a new way. Perhaps our testimony to the world would be more than mere words.
How about you? Do you live well, laugh often, and love much?