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How Can I Make the Most of My Life?
Christians all over the world recently celebrated Good Friday and Easter Sunday. They remembered that Jesus died on the cross for the sins of humanity and rose again on the third the day, proving He really is the Son of God, confirming that all He had said is true, conquering death once and for all. Now by believing and trusting in Jesus, we can be forgiven of our sins, and live a new life of righteousness in Him! What amazing news this is for everyone, no matter who you are or what your background is. So what now? Can we go on doing whatever we want now because our sins are forgiven? Can we live our lives without care because we know our ultimate home is in Heaven? The apostle Paul answers similar questions this way,
Not at all! Don’t you know that when you give yourselves to obey someone you become that person’s slave? If you are slaves to sin, then you will die. But if you are slaves who obey God, then you will live a godly life. You used to be slaves to sin. But thank God that with your whole heart you obeyed the teachings you were given! You have been set free from sin. You have become slaves to right living. (Romans 6:15-18 NIRV)
The apostle Paul is making it clear that before we put our faith in Christ, we were slaves to our sinful nature, with no way out. But after we put our faith in Christ, we are set free from having to obey our sinful nature anymore, rather, we are now able to live rightly by the power of God at work in us, through His Spirit who comes to dwell in us. For those of us who want to make the most of our lives as followers of Jesus, the question is now, how do I live rightly, and how do I follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in my life?
How we live out the rest of our lives here on earth matters because, just as Pastor Dave preached about this past weekend, “we make it our aim, whether present or absent [from our body], to be well pleasing to Him [God]. We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:9,10 NKJV). (View Pastor Dave’s sermon by clicking HERE) We will have to give an account for the way we lived our lives. What did we do with what God gave us? How were we faithful to Him? Did we listen to the Holy Spirit, obeying God’s voice in our lives?
Once again the apostle Paul provides guidance for how we can ensure we make the most of the time God gives us on this earth,
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:1,2 NLT)
We make the most of our lives by focusing our affections toward God, following the leading of the Holy Spirit every day, and renewing our mind with God’s Word, found in the Holy Bible.
Focus your affections toward God
… give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him … (Romans 12:1)
Whatever we focus our attention and affection toward, becomes the biggest thing in our minds, good or bad. As an example, there was a time when my aunt, who was very experienced with a public speaking program called, Toastmasters, decided to do a workshop with my family on making impactful speeches. We were all nervous and excited to grow in this area. In one segment of the workshop, she taught us that words like “ah”, “uh”, “um” between our phrases are considered verbal crutches, and that we should avoid using them. We practiced making speeches and she would literally count how many verbal crutches we used. Needless to say, I became very aware of these verbal crutches and purposed to no longer use them. But that’s not all, I also became very aware when other people used them. When I went to school the next day, I suddenly became very aware of how often my social studies teacher used verbal crutches. It almost made me unable to focus on what he was trying to teach us! Now that is a bit of a silly example, but it demonstrates how what we focus on really matters!
God wants us to remember all that He has done for us, and be ready to offer our lives to Him, as an offering. In other words, my life is no longer all about what I want, how I can achieve more, or how I can gain more. My life becomes all about what God wants, how I can give Him glory, and how I can be used by Him to see His Kingdom come in greater measure on earth as it is in Heaven. With this reorientation of our hearts and minds, we are better positioned to make the most of our lives, and in the process grow to be more like our loving God to the world around us.
Follow the leading of the Holy Spirit every day
Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world … (Romans 12:2)
Even if we want to love God with our whole hearts and offer our lives to Him, the reality is that there are powerful worldly messages and spiritual forces all around us that seek to pull us away from what God wants for us. The apostle Paul puts it this way in Romans 8:5-9 (NLT):
Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God. But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you.
How wonderful it is that the Holy Spirit comes to live in us when we choose to put our faith in Jesus! But the Holy Spirit doesn’t override our volition. It is a daily choice to pay attention to, and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives. How do we do this? In short, we do this through prayer. Take time each day, as well as throughout the day, to speak with and ask the Holy Spirit, “lead me today”, “help me to hear Your voice”, “what are you leading me to do today?”, “help me to recognize Your confirmation and peace in everything I do today”. In the words of the Bible scholar, N. T. Wright, “Jesus has all kinds of projects up his sleeve and is simply waiting for faithful people to say their prayers, to read the signs of the times, and to get busy.”1 If we want to make the most of our lives, we must follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Renew your mind with God’s Word
… let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think … (Romans 12:2)
If we are ever to make the most of our lives, we need to learn what God thinks, what He has said, and what He is saying to us through His Word, the Bible. In Pastor Dave’s latest book, The Contented Life, he writes,
Christianity, however, teaches us to intentionally meditate on God’s Word. The concept here is to ponder, mutter, and mentally chew on it; Christian meditation is active, not passive. God’s plan is for you to learn to take your thoughts captive and bring them into subjection to His ways and His thoughts by meditating on His Word. You’re actively replacing your thoughts with His.2
I used to have all kinds of fears. One in particular, was the fear of what people thought of me. While I can’t say that I never deal with this fear anymore, I can say that it does not have the same power over me the way it used to. It took me years of meditating on 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (NKJV), as well as opportunities to step out in faith, trusting that God would be with me, to feel transformed in this area. Where I have seen the most freedom from fear in my life, is with sharing my faith in Jesus, whether with children, friends, or neighbours. I used to be so self-aware, to the point that I really wasn’t thinking about God and what He wanted to say through me. But as I continued to meditate on God’s Word, I felt the Holy Spirit speaking to me, “Jess, you can’t be thinking of yourself (fear), while also trying to think of blessing others (love).” It was in that moment that God’s Word finally sunk into my heart and I was never the same. To make the most of our lives, we must renew our mind with God’s Word.
When we come to the end of our lives, God isn’t going to be asking us, how much money did you make? or how many friends did you have? or what things did you achieve? or even how much did you do for Him? God is much more concerned about our faithfulness and obedience to Him. We all have different gifts, talents, abilities, and passions. God knows this, because He gave them to us! We can’t compare our lives with others when it comes to what “making the most of our lives” looks like. We must do as the apostle Paul encouraged us to do in Romans 12, focus our affection toward God, follow the leading of the Holy Spirit every day, and renew our minds with God’s Word.
1 Wright, N. T. Simply Jesus. Harper Collins, 2011, p.230.
2 Koop, Dr. David. The Contented Life. Insight International, 2023, p.108.