I believe in order to live well we need to live with the INTENTION of enjoying life and with the INTEGRITY that comes from walking with God.
Let’s first talk about living with the INTENTION of enjoying life.
“Live Like You Were Dying” was the country music song of the year in 2004. The song sung by Tim McGraw had special meaning to him because he lost his father, the former New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Tug McGraw to cancer the previous January.
The lyrics tell of a man in his early 40’s who learns he doesn’t have long to live and is asked how he is handling the news. The song focuses about living life to the fullest instead of focusing on death.
He said I was in my early 40’s, with a lot of life before me,
And a moment came that stopped me on a dime.
I spent most of the next days, lookin’ at the x-rays,
Talkin’ ’bout the options and talkin’ ’bout sweet time.
Asked him when it sank in, that this might really be the real end.
How’s it hit ya, when you get that kind of news.
Man what ya do. And he says,
I went sky divin’, I went rocky mountain climbin’,
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu.
And I loved deeper, And I spoke sweeter,
And I gave forgiveness I’ve been denying,
And he said someday I hope you get the chance,
To live like you were dyin’.
Like tomorrow was a gift and you’ve got eternity
To think about what you do with it,
What could you do with it, what can I do with it,
what would I do with it.
Every day you and I have is a gift from God to be opened and celebrated. Yes each day may have a sorrow or challenge, but each day can also be full of blessing if we will choose to live it on purpose.
Ecclesiastes 11:8 “However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all.”
God intends for us to enjoy life! “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
The Christian life is supposed to be a good life. I didn’t say an easy life, but a good one. We ought to have a desire to live well, regardless of our circumstances. One of my favorite people, someone who actually helps me look my best every day, Miss Mary Kay said, “Some people drift through their entire life. They do it one day at a time, one week at a time, one month at a time. It happens so gradually they are unaware of how their lives are slipping away until it’s too late.” Are you drifting through life? Is your opportunity to live, really live, slipping away? Are you really living or are you just alive?
Life is brief. James says it is like a vapor; here today and gone tomorrow. (James 4:14) Why not live well? Richard Evans said, “The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.” (Richard L. Evans, Bits & Pieces, March 4, 1993, p. 2.)
Let me talk to the moms on this Mother’s Day for just a minute. Don’t we often put ourselves last? Aren’t the shopping trips, professional haircuts, favorite foods and time with friends sometimes too far apart and few between? When was the last time you planned to pamper yourself? How long has it been since you’ve used the China? When was the last time you actually picked a movie out that you wanted to watch? Don’t put off the trip you’ve dreamed of, the adventure you want to take, and the hobby you enjoy. Live! Schedule some time to live!
If you want to honor your mom today, ask her what she would really enjoy and then find a way to make that happen for her. I know life is busy, but you’ll be a slave to the activities of life and not really get to live unless you calendar some time to do some things you truly enjoy or dream about. That goes for all of us!
I like how the Amplified Bible puts Ephesians 5:15-16, “Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully . . . making the very most of the time, buying up each opportunity.”
“Live purposefully.” While you are alive, live! Make the most of the time you have! Live it to the full. What is it that you enjoy doing? Find a way to do it more often. Find a way to calendar what it means to you to live! Who do you enjoying spending time with? Set up some regular times to meet with them.
I love that we have an extended family in our church that gets together every week to watch a certain TV show together. Literally, several families come together just for this show. They enjoy the show and enjoy each other’s company, so they make getting together every week for that experience, a priority.
I’m not saying live for yourself. I’m saying find ways to enjoy living! Thom and I went zip lining last fall. We were hundreds of feet above the ground, zipping between trees at miles of up to 55 miles per hour! It was a crazy, amazing time. I didn’t even care that I had to wear a harness that was less than flattering and a helmet that flattened down my poof! I just enjoyed it! But I don’t have to be zipping through the tree tops to enjoy life.
I can browse through an antique store, have lunch with a friend, listen to my favorite worship music or down a Dairy Queen chocolate extreme blizzard and feel like “This is the life.”
This past year I have worked consistent exercise into the rhythm of my week, and it has truly transformed me. I feel ten years younger and the time I am spending exercising is enabling me to live my best possible life. I used to think I didn’t have time to exercise because of my family and ministry responsibilities. I have decided I’m worth making the time. I exercise with ladies at our church, and it’s a lot of fun. We laugh as much as we grapevine and squat. I hate to miss it! I am less stressed and have lots more energy. Whatever you can do to de-stress or improve your health will help you live your best life. Go for it.
What will it take for you to know and feel that you are living life well? Do it. Not only do we need to live with the intention of living well, but in order to truly live well, we need to live with INTEGRITY. I’ve been to funerals and overheard people say of the person who had passed on, “He lived a good life.” They didn’t mean he had lived a long or full one, but that he did a good job at living because he had integrity.
Decide that you are going to live for Christ and do it to the best of your ability in His power no matter where you are, who you are with and no matter what you experience.
A great example of this kind of commitment is Job. He suffered greatly and yet he said in Job 27:5 “Till I die, I will not deny my integrity.” Job had the attitude that “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord!” His attitude and convictions weren’t changed by his circumstances whether good or bad.
People of integrity have decided that no matter what they gain or no matter what they lose, they will do the right thing just because it’s right.
People with integrity don’t try to “get away with something.” When Fred Phillips, retired public-safety director and police chief of Johnson City, Tenn., was a regular police office, he and his partner pulled over an unlicensed motorist. They asked the man to follow them to the police station, but while en route they spotted a North Carolina vehicle whose license plate and driver matched the description in an all-points bulletin.
The officers took off in a high-speed chase, and finally stopped the wanted man’s car.
Minutes later, as the felon was being arrested, the unlicensed motorist drove up. “If y’all will just tell me how to get to the station, I’ll wait for you there,” he said. “I’m having a heck of a time keeping up with you.” (John Newland in Johnson City, Tenn., Press, quoted in Reader’s Digest, June, 1992, p. 145.) When people of integrity are caught, they don’t try to wiggle out of it, but they accept the consequences for their actions.
Integrity pleases the Lord! (1 Chr 29:17) “I know, my God, that You test the heart and are pleased with integrity.”
If you are going to live with integrity you are going to have to make some decisions.
- Decide to be consistent. Proverbs 10:9-“The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.” You will live well and live securely if you live consistently avoid the crooked path and take the right or narrow way! It’s God’s way every day or the ups and downs of life will cause you to compromise.
- Decide to consistently say what is true. Proverbs 4:24-“Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.” Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth. Don’t stretch the truth. Don’t lie to save face. Be honest all of the time. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
- Decide to consistently do what is right. James 4:17-“Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” You don’t have integrity if you know what is right and choose what is wrong.
- Decide to consistently examine yourself. Psalm 139:23-24-“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” People who live with integrity want to know the truth about their lives. They don’t pretend to be perfect. They want to address any weaknesses, flaws or potential cracks. As they do, they become more of who they really are. . . that is, they become more of who God created them to be which means they will live well.
Live well. Live with the intention of enjoying life and live with integrity so that your reputation and ability to influence people for Christ will stay intact!
Laugh Often. I love to laugh. Motherhood has given me lots of reasons to laugh. Our son especially provides our lives with lots of comic relief.
Just a few weeks ago, our ten year-old-son looked at me and completely seriously asked me, “Mom, do you think you’ll ever have abs?” I mean, really! I lost it!
When Joshua was 7, we got the Wii Fit games and our family decided to hold a competition doing the fitness test. Anyone here ever done that? You do these simulated tennis, bowling, and baseball games and at the end, the TV screen will tell you how well you did by assigning you a virtual age. None of us had really practiced. My husband went first. He got a 41. Pretty cool. He was 41. Josh went and scored well. Hannah went and scored well. Last but not least, I stepped up for my turn. I was missing balls and pins left and right. It was pretty sad. Josh and Hannah were rolling with laughter. I knew I couldn’t hit a real tennis ball, but you’d think I could hit a fake one! Josh piped up and said, “Mom, I’m sorry, but instead of getting a virtual score, it’s basically going to say you’re dead.”
Just after he turned eight, we were planning a trip to FL. We explained that we’d be flying and renting a car once we got there. Josh then asked if we could rent a “topless car.” Who could keep from laughing at that?
Josh told me when he was in third grade that he was going to dance instead of sing for the school talent show because he didn’t want to get famous too early and have to be homeschooled. He really believed the school talent show could catapult his career out of control.
Just in early February Josh and I had a conversation that went like this: Me: Josh, how did you do on your spelling test? Josh: I got a B. Me: What words did you miss? Josh: I don’t remember, but I didn’t miss the whole words, just parts of them. Hilarious, right?
It’s good to laugh. I think Christians ought to by the funniest people around. We ought to be not only experiencing joy but showing it off to those around us.
God loves to laugh! He loves to pull practical jokes. How about the caper he pulled off in Abraham and Sarah’s lives? Sarah more than qualified for the Senior Citizens’ discount at the local restaurant and God decided that was the best time in her life to fulfill the promise of giving her a son. She lost it. She thought it was hilarious. Her joy was combined with hilarity and she started to laugh.
In Genesis 21:6 Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.”
Laughter is not only good for us, but is also good for those around us. Proverbs 17:22 calls it medicine. Laughter dissolves tension, stress, anxiety, irritation, anger, grief, and depression. It boosts the immune system and reduces pain by releasing endorphins that are more potent than equivalent amounts of morphine.
Laughter adds spice to life; it is to life what salt is to a hard-boiled egg. Everyone loves someone who can make them laugh. The more you share your sense of humor, the more friends you will have. Laughter is even equivalent to a small amount of exercise.
When God promised to give Abram and Sarah a son at the ripe old age of 75 and 65, it was a pretty God-sized promise. But to make sure that no one could ever doubt the “God-sized” nature of this birth, God waited nearly 30 years to fulfill the promise. After years and tears of frustration and disappointment, the promised son finally came. And Sarah laughed as she had never laughed before. She experienced joy, gratitude, and God’s grace at such a deep level that her natural reaction was laughter.
Sometimes the best kind of laughter also comes as we learn to wait patiently on God’s promises. If God answered all our prayers within 5 minutes and fulfilled all his promises within days, we might not laugh quite as well as Sarah laughed. We might just take his gifts for granted and never learn the joy of patient waiting and complete trust.
The writer of Ecclesiastes says that there is a time to laugh. Laughing is spiritual and is one of the fringe benefits of being a Christian. It should be part of our lives.
Christians ought to be the most joyful people around, but they also ought to be the most loving. In fact God’s Word tells us people will know we are Christians by the way we love them (John 13:35).
“Love the Lord Your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27) When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus said it was to love God and others.
What does it mean to love God? It’s more than lip service isn’t it? It’s more than church affiliation. It’s a day to day recognition of how different your life would be without Him. It’s a daily expression of devotion to Him. It’s the cultivation of a heart that is passionate about Jesus, the “Lover of your Soul.” It’s worship and conversation with our Savior, not just when we are gathered together in this sanctuary, but also when you are alone with God.
Loving God means trusting Him with every result and every outcome of life. Loving God means asking His opinion with the intention of following it. Loving God means giving His Word the highest priority in our lives. Loving God means recognizing His work in your life and saying “thank you” back to Him.
Loving God involves the feeling and desire that we could never pay Him back for what He’s done for us, but we want to live our lives trying. Loving God means showing Him how grateful we truly are.
Another way we love God is by loving others. What does that look like? Here’s my new definition of what it means to love others: Loving others means showing that we value them. What they are going through matters to us. What they need matters to us. What they share with us matters to us. What they are attempting to do matters to us. What they have accomplished matters to us. And we relate to them in such a way that we aren’t jealous, manipulative or insensitive, but concerned if needed and ready to congratulate and celebrate whenever we can.
Think of the times you knew you were loved by someone. Do you remember feeling that they valued you as a person and your need or contribution to the moment? I’ll bet you did. Loving people leaves them with a sense of validation. Every decision we make ought to be driven by a desire to show God and others that we value them. That is love.
What kind of value did God demonstrate when He sent Jesus to die for you and me? Didn’t He show that we were worth a lot; His most priceless possession? Doesn’t it make us feel special and secure to know that God loved us so much and placed such a high value on our salvation that He willingly sacrificed for us? He willingly lived among us in the person of His Son, Jesus, in order to touch us, heal us, and teach us how to live? That’s the kind of desire we should have. We should love much. It ought to be deep. It ought to be real. It ought to be on purpose. It ought to make others feel special and secure. It ought to be filled with the desire and intention to communicate value to others.
How in your life can you live more purposefully? What can you add or take away to help you live well? How is your integrity at the moment? What is going on that you can laugh about? How can you quit taking things personally and lighten up a bit? How do you rate in the “love much” category? Would God say, “She is a woman who loves me much? She is a woman who loves others much?” Accept the encouragement today to live well, laugh often and love much.