Summary: Four insights about living the good life.
With New Year’s Eve coming up on Monday, it’s a good time to ask ourselves the more probing questions about our lives. I want to encourage you on Monday night to ask yourself one question: "Am I living the good life?" Are you living the life God intended for you to live?
Of course, the question assumes that we know what the good life is. That’s a question people have pondered for centuries. The Greek philosophers said that the good life was the examined life. Aristotle wrote that the unexamined life wasn’t worth living.
Other philosophers came to different conclusions. The ancient Epicureans concluded that the good life was a live that maximizes pleasure and minimizes pleasure. The existentialists concluded that the good life was the self-made, individually chosen life.
Beer commercials today have their own version of the good life they try to market to us. Miller Brewing company tells us that the good life is "the high life," which we learn is a life of attractive women, guzzling miller genuine draft, and watching sports on TV. Corona beer tells us the good life is sitting on a beach, enjoying the sunset and ignoring our cell phone.
What is the good life? Is it having lots of money? Is it having a powerful job that influences lots of people? Is it sleeping with everyone you can without getting a disease? Is it being happy?
On this last weekend of the year 2001 I want to talk about the good life. I want to help us think through a Christian definition of the good life, a definition that doesn’t take its cues from beer commercials or even ancient philosophers. By defining the good life from a Christian perspective, we’ll be in a better position on Monday night to evaluate whether we’re living the good life or not. We’ll know better what kind of changes and adjustments we need to make for 2002 to better enjoy the good life, the kind of life God intended us to live.
We’ve been in a series through Paul’s two letters to his young protégé Timothy found in the New Testament. We’ve titled this series Deepening Your Life With God. Today as we finish looking at Paul’s first letter to Timothy, we’re going to find four insights into the good life from a Christian perspective, and how we can embrace the good life a little bit more this next year.
1. FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT (1 Tim 6:11-12a)
We begin by talking about fighting the good fight. Look at v. 11 and the first half of v. 12. Here Paul is directly addressing Timothy as a protégé, and challenging him to live the good life, a life that really counts. In the previous ten verses Paul warned Timothy about the seductive danger of greed. He warned that a passion to get rich plunges people into ruin. Truly the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, as Paul reminded Timothy of in v. 10. So Paul encourages Timothy to run for his life away from a greedy life that’s obsessed with getting more. Run like you’d run if you stumbled upon a six foot rattler while hiking. Run don’t walk, because greed can easily hook us with its empty promises and ruin our spiritual lives.
Run from greed, but pursue the good life. The word for "pursue" in v. 11 is a strong Greek verb that means to chase after something with intense effort. When I studied this word I thought about the movie The Terminator. I thought about the terminator’s relentlessness, that no matter how hard you tried to stop him, he kept getting up and coming for more.
This pursuit is a life of seeking after the virtues of righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Righteousness is simply a life of integrity. Godliness is a God centered life, a life where God is the center focus. Faith is a lifestyle of trust in God. Love is a life of caring for people, especially people outside our circle of friends and family. Endurance is bearing up under difficult and painful circumstances. Finally gentleness is a life that lacks harshness, that’s gentle and caring in its treatment of other people. The implication is that none of these character traits just show up in our lives without effort, but like the Terminator, we must pursue them with intensity.
Then Paul tells Timothy to fight the good fight of faith. Paul’s phrase "fight the good fight" has become part of our language and culture, and today it means to hang in there in whatever you’re doing. But to Paul it was directly connected to Timothy’s faith. The word translated "fight" is the same word where we get our word "agonize" from, to agonize the struggle of faith.