“Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.” – Philippians 2:16
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” – Matthew 11:29
“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” –Philippians 2:12-13
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” –I Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)
Principles of Christian living are good principles for living in general. The Lord Jesus Christ does not promise a life of ease, prosperity or indulgence to his followers, but He does promise to be there for those who sincerely apply his principles and seek him with their whole heart.
There are some simple principles found throughout the Bible that can help us in our walk through life.
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 1:2
In the limited concordance of the Defender’s Study Bible compiled by Dr. Henry Morris, the term “run” is defined as “move with swift pace”. The term implies intensity, passion, inspiration and hope. When asked by a Pharisee what was the greatest commandment, “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” –Matthew 22:37
The term run also implies pursuit. We don’t usually pursue simple things, we pursue the more complex. Doing one daily task is simple; it is a chore; it is something we know very well how to do. For instance, it is easy to wash the dishes but it is more complex to pursue cleanliness in general. For the more complex goals, we must pursue with intensity. It is easy to draw a simple picture, but we must pursue a career in graphic design. A job is one thing, but we must pursue vocations and degrees. These are things we have to run after, and not give up until they are attained.
It is not enough to identify as a Christian but to follow our own path. God must be our primary and only hope and goal. We must pursue him and leave everything else behind. Luke 9:57-62 talks about a way of following Christ that does not look back. We run after what our hope is tied up in. We also run after what we worship.
Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
“The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness.” –Matthew 6:22-23
Although there certainly have been wealthy people who have loved God, for instance – Abraham, Job and Joseph of Arimathea – those who actually love money cannot love God. Scripture confirms that such an obsession can lead to great evil because some choose to love money to the extent that they worship it (Matthew 6:24). Secular and religious people alike have goals – but the goal of Christians should be to glorify Christ with their lives.
To pursue Christ is to have hope in Christ. This intense pursuit of a primary goal is what enables us to advance, despite our sinful natures, and despite the very laws of nature such as gravity and the 2nd law of thermodynamics.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.” – I Corinthians 9:24 – 26
Running exemplifies the passion for reading His word. Running is something that is good to do in our youth, but also when we are older. We should learn from those to teach, but also to use the discernment that God gives through His spirt.
“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.” –Psalm 119:9
“And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” II Timothy 3:15
“But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” –Luke 18:16
“The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.” –Lamentations 3:25-27
“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” –Acts 17:11
To pursue Christ we must also run away from bad things and run to good things.
“Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” – II Timothy 2:22
Fulfilling the Great Commission of Matthew 28:16-20 is to run after Christ.
“Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.” – I Corinthians 9:10
In running we sometimes become unbalanced, we sometimes make mistakes, and we sometimes stumble. But we keep our eyes on the goal.
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” –Titus 2:11-14
Running is learning God’s ways and learning His word. Running is focus. Running is passion and intensity. Running is the hoping.
“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.” – Hebrews 11:8-12 (NIV)
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” – Hebrews 11:6
David knew that he would die and be in a grave until the Lord resurrected him.
David said about him:
“ ‘I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest in hope,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
you will not let your holy one see decay.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.’ –Acts 2:25-28 (NIV)
Resting is letting God be God and letting him work through us. Resting in God takes faith.
“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – II Corinthians 12:9
“Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” –Hebrews 4:1
“For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.” –Hebrews 4:8-10
Resting is obeying. Resting is believing in God’s goodness and greatness. Resting is having joy in the journey. Resting is believing in a better future. Resting is delayed gratification. Resting is having faith.
“But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” –Matthew 6:6
“Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.” –Matthew 26:36
“Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” –Colossians 4:12
We understand work in general and Christian works to be many things. But fundamental to all of Christian works is prayer. It is something any Christian can do. It does not require a babysitter. It does not require a large bank account. It does not require a lot of spare time or energy. It does not require status or position. It is a work of submission any can be done anywhere and anytime.
Prayer preceded the giving of God’s spirit at Pentecost and allows us the refreshing of God’s spirit in our lives. It is not about getting God to do our bidding. Like Christ showed at Gethsemane, prayer is a work of submission.
“Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me;” –Romans 15:30
“For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,” –Philippians 1:19
“And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;” –Luke 18:1
“These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.” –Acts 1:14
“Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day. But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth. And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless. But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
“Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man, Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work. But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith. And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.” –I Timothy 5:5-13
In the above passage, it shows that the widows that were taken in by the church were full of good works, but the first works mentioned are spiritual. The widows were ones depended on God and prayed around the clock. These spiritual works are what made the physical works that they did effectual.
“And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” –James 5:15
“And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” –Mark 9:29
“Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:” –Colossians 4:2
Without God’s righteousness as a covering, we have nothing to commend ourselves, and our works of righteousness fall far short.
“We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.” –Isaiah 64:6 (New Living Bible)
“For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.” –Titus 3:3
Spiritual works are about mortifying the flesh, that is, submitting our spirits to God.
“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.” –Romans 7:18
It is interesting in the following passage, that all of the “works” mentioned, are those that are public ones. They are not the spiritual works of prayer, fasting and giving talked about in Matthew 6:1-8 which are primarily to be performed in private. Spiritual works are designed to change us within, not to show off to others. If we do these to show off to others, we may as well not do them at all.
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. –Matthew 7:21-23
Spiritual work is a personal thing. It is a heart thing. It is doing the things we do not out of obligation or compulsion, but now out of love.
“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” –Hebrews 13:15
Working is submitting our spirit. Work is accepting and being part of God’s order of things. Work is the daily submission of prayer. Work is the sacrifice of praise. Work is a labor of love.
Learning. Obeying. Submitting. These are important elements of a Christian life.