by Roland W. Keith
It is not unusual to hear a philosopher or so-called deep-thinker say or write something like “a life well-lived is a life lived for others.” The sentiment is honorable enough. A good person helps others. In fact, on the surface such a philosophy sounds downright Christian. But, is it? The truth is the right or wrong-mindedness of such a philosophy or ideology really depends on one’s definition of ‘helping’ or ‘living for’ others. In today’s politically correct world of all things liberal, tried and true values are being discarded in favor of the liberal agenda of the left, based not on Christian principles or conservative values, but on the apparent whims of progressives. In their view all conservative (and Christian) values must be suppressed, if not outright destroyed, while seemingly free-range liberal values are to be instituted at all costs, which they claim is helping others (but looks a lot like negative socio-political engineering to some of us) .
Don’t worry this is not a political piece. The question is, as Christians, what should our worldview be? The answer is not as open-ended as some people may think. The truth is if we study Bible principles (that is study the Bible) and seek to abide in Christ as He abides in us, the scriptures will guide us in how we are to live, the type of example we should set for the world, how we define acceptable and unacceptable behavior, and how we can truly help others (for example: not enabling their behavior, but helping them to their feet and teaching them to live up to their responsibilities).
Paul wrote the Colossians: “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6-7). The Christian man and woman walk according to the teachings of Christ, so much so that Paul equated life in terms of no longer living to self but letting Christ live through him (Galatians 2:20). Everything that Paul believed and lived by prior to knowing Christ he discarded if it did not meet with the Lord’s teachings. He was willing to sacrifice all to live for Christ. Moreover, Paul believed that all who come to Christ are transformed in the process (II Corinthians 5:17). As fellow heirs with Christ (Romans 8:16-17), our focus should shift from a dying world to the eternal kingdom and our actions and concerns for ourselves and our fellow man should reflect that.
When we become members of Christ’s spiritual body (Ephesians 1:22-23), and subjects in His kingdom (Colossians 1:13-14), our view of how to live our lives should change (Ephesians 4:1-4). The combative man learns to live in peace, impatience becomes patience, the divisive woman seeks unity. We understand the preeminence of Christ and where His authority comes from and why we subject ourselves to it. In Genesis, when God the Father spoke the command as the great architect of creation He created it through His Son. It was Christ, the Son, Who was the builder. In that sense not only was the universe created by Him, it was created for Him, and it is He who holds it together to this day (Colossians 1:15-17). To come before God, through His Son, we honor and worship our Creator. When we live according to His word we become a part of His great plan of reconciliation for mankind. Our job is not is not to give others everything they want— it is to do our part in bringing all men together in Christ.
Paul wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith’” (Romans 1:16-17). Our goal is to please the Lord by sharing that gospel; therefore, while we may long for the perfection of heaven we are of good courage here on earth (II Corinthians 5:6-9)— we have a job to do and we must do it with all diligence, in Christian fellowship (Romans 12:11; I John 1:7).
To please God, we must know what it is He wants us to do. In Deuteronomy 10:12-13 we read, “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I am commanding you today for your good?” The word fear here is to understand the power and authority of God, to respect and obey Him, and to worship Him. For the Israelites to heed these instructions they had to turn to the Law of Moses and the Septuagint (the Old Testament scriptures). For the Christian today to heed these words we must know the commandments and statutes as set down in the New Testament. The covenants may be different but the words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes 12:13 are still true: “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”
It is the duty of man to obey God. For those of us who have accepted the gift of salvation we find that by His grace we also, through His word, receive the training we need to renounce the world as we learn to live upright and productive Christian lives (Titus 2:11-14). As Paul wrote, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (I Corinthians 15:58). The Christian laborer who is following the commands of the Lord is always productive, even though they may not always see the fruits of their labor. Not only is the Christian productive he or she is always growing through their studies. Yet how many of us could benefit from reminders of God’s will, such as Paul’s words to Titus: “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people” (Titus 3:1-2)?
The Christian, then, is a lifelong student and activist. An activist in the sense that he is actively engaged in living and sharing God’s word, as James noted when he spoke of being a doer of the word and not merely a hearer of it (James 1:22-25). Peter also spoke of the responsibilities of the Christian when he wrote, “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall” (II Peter 1:6-10).
Along with Peter the apostle Paul also made a few lists, both about the fruits of the Spirit we develop (Galatians 5:22-25), and the works of the flesh we must overcome, such as idolatry anger, dissensions, sexual immorality, enmity, etc., warning those who fail to overcome the flesh that there is no place in heaven for those who do such works (Galatians 5:16-21). However, for those who are faithful and overcome whatever the devil may throw at them Jesus said, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10. This is what God has promised since the very beginning (Titus 1:2).
For those who abide in Christ and the law of the Spirit of life, freedom from sin and death awaits them (Romans 8:1-4). What we also find in observing these people is that they have a positive effect on all those around them, including non-Christians. The very nature of the Christian way is to live for Christ, which is to live for others. That doesn’t mean that the world will accept what we are saying and doing as Christians— some will agree with many of our principles yet reject the gospel of Christ, and in today’s world many will reject Christ and His word wholesale. In the end not everyone wants to be helped, not really. Instead, many want to remain in the condition they are in, whatever that condition may be. In fact, some of them will try to separate us from God and God from society by whatever means possible. To those we can reply as Paul did when he wrote, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For Your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39). To abide in Christ is to be victorious. No matter what our station in life, each and every Christian gains more than he or she could ever acquire in this life, laying hold of a treasure that exceeds all the wealth of the world when they pass through the gates of heaven into eternal life there. Moreover, when they lift one other person up helping them to know Christ they accomplish more than any CEO or politician or athlete who is looking toward worldly accomplishment ever will.
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.