What if there was an instruction manual for life?
Have you ever thought about what makes a good life good? What about your life makes it a good life? Or if not good now, what would have to change for you to consider it good?
I’ve been thinking about these questions for years. In 2021, I wrote a series about it here on the blog. But, recently I’ve realized that I was (partly) going about the whole thing wrong.
Around October, I was training my (then) new assistant and I gave her a set of instructions. I told her you can do almost anything I ask of you if you follow these instructions. I also told myself that at home – I bought a new home and there are some things I need to update and repair. I can fix almost anything by following instructions.
Suddenly, I realized that this applies to life too! Our instruction manual for life is the Bible. Specifically, our instruction manual is in the three things Jesus told us to do.
The first two are in Matt 22:37-39 “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (NLT)
First Rule: Love God. Why would this be the first rule? There are many answers but the reality is, we are MADE to love God. Loving God makes us happier and more content than any other thing or person ever could.
Loving God is safe. He is unfailing in his love for us. He never leaves us. He takes care of us. It’s easy to love someone who loves us so much. It’s amazing to be loved like this.
The problem is that we get this part twisted. That’s when we get let down and disappointed. We ask for things from God as if he’s a vending machine or genie who grants whatever we wish for. If we don’t get it we decide that God doesn’t love us or want us to be happy. It’s simply not true. The reality is that some of the things we want aren’t good for us at all. These things may even hurt us in the long term. It’s better to trust the judgement from our all-knowing God than to trust our own judgement.
The other side is when life hurts, we blame God. When we blame God, we forget that all things work for our good. (Rom. 8:28) We neglect that it’s not all his fault either. If we believe in God, which is necessary to blame him, then we must also believe in the evil that in this world and we must believe in our ability to choose. The result of these truths is that sometimes the choices of other people is influenced by the evil in this world and sometimes people just choose to do the wrong thing. It’s not all God’s fault. It’s also true that if we wait long enough, we can see where it works out for good.
Second Rul: we’re commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves. This requires us to first love us and then love others. It seems simple until we realize it’s hard to love both ourselves and others. We don’t even understand sometimes, what love looks like!
To love requires us to look to God to see what love looks like. Without his perfect love to guide us, we wouldn’t even know where to begin. We’d be trying to love from our broken places instead of our healed places. When we do this, it gets twisted again.
We get it twisted by putting ourselves in God’s spot – I can’t take a break, because it will stop functioning without me. Or we may say, there’s no time for rest, I’ve got too much to do. Another way we get it twisted is by trying to control things and people – if you loved me, you’d do it. This line also leads to loving things and using people. When these happen, we can’t give from a place of love – and love is always a give.
Once we love ourselves, then we can love people. Again, it’s a spot of giving. Love does not take. Love requires we give people a break (patience); that we give a compliment (kindness); that we be maybe take less than we deserve so someone else can have more (humility). Love may require that we do what the other person wants instead of getting our own way. Love may require that we say the hard truth instead of the ‘white’ lie. Ever read 1 Cor. 13?
Third Rule: he instructed us was “go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.” (Matt. 28:19-20 NLT)
Telling others about the good news IS loving them. Telling others that their sins can be forgiven if they just believe IS the best gift you could ever give. Telling people that their life can be 100% better if they knew Christ IS loving. Don’t get ung up on the sin, we’ve all got it. Focus on the love & forgiveness, that’s the best.
Think about it this way: If you found the best steak restaurant in the world, would you keep it a secret from your most favorite person? I wouldn’t! I’d want to share it with them. If you found a cozy spot to hang out in, would you want your favorite person with you? I would – it would make it way better for me to have them there. Wouldn’t they be so grateful when they ate the steak or sat in the cozy goodness with you? Wouldn’t your love increase?
That’s why we share! It’s too good not to share! I see people and I just want to help them live life better. I see homeless people and I want them to know they are loved beyond imagine. I see the business person, the single mom, the victim and survivor, the addict and the recovering, and I want them to know they are loved. All the people in the world, I look around and I want them to know God. I fear that they will be stuck in hell and if I just gave them a warning or said something, then they’d be in heaven with me.
Our goal is to make heaven more crowded. It’s our job to say something, it’s God’s job to do the rest. Just like in an airport: see someone, say something. That’s it. Hey friend, you got this.
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