One of my favorite scriptures is 2 Corinthians 5:15, which says Jesus "died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again" (NKJV). And John 10:10 says Jesus came so we could "have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)" (AMP).
I've learned throughout the years as I've grown in my relationship with Christ that the best life-the abundant life Jesus died to give us-is found in loving God and helping others.
Now this way of thinking isn't natural to us, and it's common for people to believe their happiness is based on having their way, doing what they want to do, when they want to do it, and getting everything they want. But the truth is, if we're living selfish, self-centered lives, we won't have the peace, joy and fulfillment we long for. And God wants us to have the very best life He can give us.
Getting the Best God Has to Offer
God's love is the greatest gift we can receive in life. And it's also the key to experiencing the abundant life John 10:10 is talking about: peace, joy, right standing with God, and freedom from bitterness, anger and every kind of misery.
God loves you perfectly and completely just as you are right now. He can't love you any more than He does at this moment because He is perfect and complete. And even though we are imperfect, His love for us is unconditional and it never changes.
But as we grow in our relationship with God, our love for Him changes. In the beginning, we love Him because of what He's done for us-cleansed us of our sin, giving us new life in Christ-and how He blesses us. But over time, as we learn how beautiful and amazing He is, we don't just love Him, but we fall in love with Him.
It's so important for us to grow in our love for God because then the love of Christ will compel us to live for God and obey Him in every area of our lives. And it's our prompt, complete obedience to God that causes us to grow and mature so He can give us all of the things we need to have a victorious, abundant life in Christ.
Don't Settle for a Mediocre, Barely-Getting-By Life
My goal in sharing this message with you is to increase your desire and determination to obey God completely and more promptly so you won't settle for less than God's best. Desire is vital because we have to want to be obedient or we won't do it. And determination is what keeps us going so we go all the way with God and live to do His will, not our own.
I want to say here that while we have to make a decision and put forth effort to live for God, we can't do it successfully in our own strength or will power. And God doesn't expect us to do it on our own.
As born-again believers in Christ, we have the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our spirits: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (see Galatians 5:22-23). This means we have everything we need, in Christ, to live a victorious life. And it's the fruit of the Spirit, like self-control, that empowers us to walk in obedience to God's will.
Two Ways to Obey
When I say to "obey God," on a practical level, what do I mean? Well, the first place to start is by making a commitment to obey the written Word of God. Anything we read in God's Word that we're told to do or not to do is straightforward direction.
For example, there are scriptures that say you are to forgive your enemies, pray for those who hurt you and bless them. Now this is not easy to do, but remember that God is not expecting you to do this on your own. The grace of God gives us the power we need to do what we cannot do in our strength or by our own ability. You'll be amazed at how God will change your heart when you simply surrender your will to Him and sincerely ask Him to help you obey His Word.
The second way we obey God is by following the personal promptings of the Holy Spirit in our individual lives. The Bible doesn't tell us every little detail about what we need to do in our daily lives, but the Holy Spirit will help us, through the still, small voice and promptings He speaks to our hearts.
I want to encourage you to make the decision to spend time reading and studying God's Word. Hang out with Jesus, praying and taking time to be still in His presence, letting Him speak to your heart. Examine your heart and be honest about who you're living for. If you want to give up living for yourself and live wholeheartedly for God, you can start fresh today. As the old hymn says, "Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey."