Tag Archives: living like a Christian

A Good Reputation

I was 12 years old when I first read Proverbs 22:1. In the King James it says, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.” At first I thought it was talking about my actual name, but then I found out it was talking about my reputation. I remember spending a lot of time thinking about this verse. I decided then that not only did I want a good name, I wanted my name associated with the word “excellence”. As I imagined what that would look like and require, I began to think about how I needed to be intentional about my actions in every area of my life. In serving God, I needed to make sure I lived my life the way Paul described in the New Testament. I needed to follow whatever God said. I knew everything about my reputation would begin right there. I needed to live up to the name “Chris” which means, “bearer of Christ.”

In 1 Samuel 13, Saul was the king of Israel. He quickly gained a reputation as a warrior when he attacked a garrison of Philistines who were oppressing Israel. The people quickly lined up to fight with him and revolt against their oppressors. However, they weren’t going to just walk away without a fight. They mustered their whole army to attack, and Saul began to panic. Samuel, who must have had a reputation for being late, had told Saul to wait seven days and he would sacrifice to God for victory. When he was later, Saul began to worry about what others thought and he offered the sacrifice exposing who he really was. He wanted to have man think more highly of him than God. It wasn’t long before God decided to take the kingdom away from him. He couldn’t be trusted with it in God’s eyes.

Ephesians 5:15-17 says, “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do” (NLT). God has entrusted the Kingdom of Heaven to us. We need to be intentional in how we live and represent it. Ask God what He wants you to do, how to live and to help you make the most of each opportunity He gives you. Understand that God looks at the heart while people look at behaviors. God doesn’t hold our past against us when we seek forgiveness while people hold it over our heads. Because Jesus has given you a Robe of Righteousness, you have the name above every name attached to you in God’s eyes. People see that too. Seek God’s plan for your life, then be intentional with your decisions and you will bear His name well.

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Consider Your Conduct

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Internalizing God’s Word

Several years ago I had a boss that I didn’t see eye to eye with. They had their way of doing things and I had mine, but they had a “my way or the highway” mentality. They thought their way was the best way to do the job. I voiced my disagreement and explained why my way was better. They listened politely then told me to do it their way. At that point, I developed a forced compliance mentality. I would do the job my way, unless they came around. Sometimes I would do it their way out of spite, but over emphasize certain aspects of it and say, “This is what you said you wanted.” It didn’t create a good relationship. I kept thinking my way was better the whole time and never truly gave their way a chance. We were both miserable the whole time I worked for them.

Sometimes we approach Christianity that way. We read God’s Word and disagree with how it tells us to live. We think we have a better way so we live one way on Sunday when we think God is watching, and live a completely different way the rest of the week. We argue with pastors and teachers about what God really meant or we look for someone online who will agree with us. We simply want the benefits of Christianity without changing how we live. Jesus described this mentality in Luke 6:46-47 when He said, “Why are you so polite with me, always saying ‘Yes, sir,’ and ‘That’s right, sir,’ but never doing a thing I tell you? These words I speak to you are not mere additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundation words, words to build a life on” (MSG). Jesus isn’t offering good morals to live by. He’s offering a different way to live completely and a compliance mindset won’t work.

Instead, we need to truly internalize His words if we’re going to integrate them into our lives and change how we live. They have to move from our head to our heart. Jesus continued in verses 48-49, “If you work the words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who dug deep and laid the foundation of his house on bedrock. When the river burst its banks and crashed against the house, nothing could shake it; it was built to last. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a dumb carpenter who built a house but skipped the foundation. When the swollen river came crashing in, it collapsed like a house of cards. It was a total loss.” We can’t just pick and choose what we believe in the Bible or just talk about Christianity. To internalize His words, read them asking Him to help you understand how to apply them. Meditate on them to think deeply about them so you can work them into your life. Christianity isn’t a list of rules to follow, it’s a way of life to live.

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Growing In Grace

If you ever see my son, most of the time it feels like he’s wearing high water pants. No matter what we do, we just can’t seem to keep pants that fit him. He’s constantly growing and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. We always joke with him about it asking him if he can stop it or grow younger instead. Even as a child he knows that you can’t stop growth and that it happens naturally. It’s the same thing in the animal kingdom, with plants and most living things. They naturally grow and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. God designed physical growth to be natural, but he made other types of growth to require effort in order to create it. If you want to grow your knowledge, you need to apply effort in education. If you want to grow your muscles, you need to apply effort in working out. There are many things like this in life including your spiritual growth.

One of the main concerns of the writers of the New Testament was our spiritual growth. It’s not the type of growth that occurs naturally like physical growth. It’s like the others where it requires effort and discipline on our part. They wanted us to know that there’s more to Christianity than just accepting Jesus as our savior. That’s the beginning of a lifetime of growth. Sadly, for many Christians, the stop there or just past that point in their growth. They fail to adopt spiritual disciplines that will help them grow closer to Christ and to become more like Him in their life. The writer of Hebrews, Peter and Paul all addressed Christians to encourage them to move from milk to meat and to go from infants to mature believers (Hebrews 5:12-14, 1 Peter 2:2, 1 Corinthians 3:1-3).

Peter addresses is again in 2 Peter 3:18. He wrote, “But continue to grow and increase in God’s grace and intimacy with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” (TPT). Growing into mature believers is our goal, but it requires that we do more than go to church once a week. It requires reading the Bible, doing Bible studies, spending time in prayer, reflecting on Scripture, sharing our faith and applying what we’ve learned. If we do these things, we will grow in God’s grace and in our intimacy with Him. The point of sending His Son to save us was the restore the relationship between us. Growth in relationships don’t occur naturally. It requires that we spend time getting to know the other person. The more our relationship grows with someone, the more we adopt parts of their personality into our life. The same is true when we grow our relationship with God. We become more like Him and that’s His desire for each of us.

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Integrated Into Christ

One of the things that I’ve taught for years is that habits, behaviors and attitude are all learned behaviors. You have the ability to change them with enough dedication and thought process changes. In the late 1980’s, Stephen Covey wrote a book called, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. It sold so many copies in the first 11 years that it was named the most influential book of the 20th century. It taught people principles they could change personally to move from dependence to independence, and it also taught how to become a better team player as well. Many people attribute their success in business and in life to this self help book.

Unfortunately, many people approach the Bible as a self help book. They look at it as a book of do’s and don’t’s that will make you a better Christian in order to get into Heaven. We’ve been conditioned to think that if we will just act right, say the right things and spread love then we will be good Christians. The problem with that thinking is that it’s all behavior based Christianity. Romans 7 address that. If we try to live our Christian lives based on behaviors, then we’re going to be miserable. Jesus didn’t die to make you a better person. He died to give you new life. The changes in our life are a result of our love for Him, not our will power. The root of behavior based Christianity is that we are trying to integrate Christ into our lives instead of integrating our lives into Him.

In John 15:4, Jesus said, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me” (NLT). Fruit isn’t produced on your own trying to be a good Christian. Fruit is produced through the new life Jesus gives us when we are fully grafted into Him. When we surrender our lives to Him, we are letting Him integrate us as branches into Himself as the Vine. Life changing power comes from that surrender and integration. It doesn’t come through will power. You are saved by grace, through faith, not by your good behavior or works (Ephesians 2:8). It’s not your habits that make you a Christian, it’s your heart. Man looks on the outward things, but God looks at your heart. Romans 8 addresses living surrendered to Christ in contrast to trying to do things on your own in Romans 7. We each need to make sure our lives are grafted into Christ where true life and fruitful living are.

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A Worthy Life

One of the most iconic scenes from the movie “Saving Private Ryan” comes when Tom Hanks character is dying. He looks at Private Ryan and whispers with his dying breath, “Earn this.” It’s a powerful scene that leaves an indelible mark on Private Ryan’s life. The movie fast forwards to the end of Ryan’s life where’s he’s in Arlington National Cemetery and he’s reminiscing. He looks at his wife, with desperation in his voice, he tells his wife, “Tell me I’ve led a great life. Tell me I’m a good man.” His sole desire in life was to live a life worthy of the sacrifice of the men who died to save him.

You and I are called to live a life that is worthy of the sacrifice that’s been made for us. We’re to constantly keep in mind what Jesus did for us so that we live in a manner that is fitting of His name. We don’t have to do it alone though. God has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us. He has also given us a robe of righteousness through Christ so that we don’t try to earn our salvation or think our actions make us right with God. To live a worthy life is to live in a manner consistent with what’s been done for us in appreciation. We take the elements of the last supper in remembrance so that we will keep in mind the sacrifice that was made and to lead us into lives worthy of His name through God’s enabling.

Here are some Bible verses on living a worthy life.

1. So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.

2 Thessalonians 1:11 NLT

2. Therefore, we speak of you with pride among the churches of God for your steadfastness [your unflinching endurance, and patience] and your firm faith in the midst of all the persecution and [crushing] distress which you endure. This is a positive proof of the righteous judgment of God [a sign of His fair verdict], so that you will be considered worthy of His kingdom, for which indeed you are suffering.

2 Thessalonians 1:4-5 AMP

3. Your hearts can soar with joyful gratitude when you think of how God made you worthy to receive the glorious inheritance freely given to us by living in the light.

Colossians 1:12 TPT

4. Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.

Ephesians 4:1 NLT

5. Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.

Philippians 1:27 NLT

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