Remember for whom you are living
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. This life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
Norman F. Burger Jr.
I attended a college commencement ceremony a few years ago in which the student speaker told her classmates to follow their dreams. She urged them not to do what others expect them to do, want them to do, or tell them to do. She said, “Don’t live someone else’s life.”
I get her point. But it needs to be counter-balanced with this: The life God has called us to live is all about others.
We live for Jesus and others
First of all, God expects us to live for him. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). That’s a no-brainer. As the giver of all we have, God deserves to be honored in everything we do.
God also expects us to live our lives for others. He says, “Serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13) and “Do nothing out of selfish ambition . . . consider others better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). That’s a no-brainer too. If someone calls us “selfish,” that’s a cut-down. Everyone knows that being unselfish is a good thing.
But how unselfish is your life? How often do you stop to think, “Is this pleasing to God?” before you say or do something? When you pray “Your will be done,” do you mean that or does it mean “Lord, agree that my will be done”? And have you loved others more than yourself? Or have you often tried to get out of things you could do for others? Have you used others instead of serving them?
So what do you need more: To be cautioned about not being too unselfish or to be rescued from your shameful, habitual selfishness?
Christ lived for us
You know what God did for you. The almighty God literally lived your life for you to save you. You couldn’t live a holy life of perfect love for God and others, so he came to your broken world in your frail flesh and lived it for you. And then, when you deserved the suffering of hell for all your selfish living, he took your place on the cross, letting the lightning bolt of the Father’s anger at your sin strike him instead, so you can say with Paul, “God loved me and gave himself for me.” His life was all about you and your salvation.
This is not only the time of year when college graduates are told to live out their dreams. It is also the time of year when confirmands promise to live for Jesus and others. Remember that you made that promise when you are tempted to think you are being too unselfish or when you get comfortable in your selfishness. But above all, remember why you made that promise. It’s not because your parents expected you to or because it was the next step in your church life, but because you knew that Jesus had lived and died and lives again—all for you, always for you and your salvation. Renew that promise every day with a repentant heart that says, “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. This life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Contributing editor Norman Burger is pastor at Shepherd of the Hills, Lansing, Michigan.
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Author: Norman F. Burger Jr.
Volume 102, Number 5
Issue: May 2015
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