Living the transformed life (Part 1)
• The Bible reveals God’s truth
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good. – Titus 2:11-14.
Beloved in Christ I am writing to you today as the carrier of a message that is fundamental to our place as Christians in our society. I sincerely pray that after hearing this message, we will all be challenged to do more for God, for country, and for ourselves.
Living the transformed life as a Christian has everything to do with national development. I’ll tell you why.
The transformed life is a life shaped anew by God, to serve and fulfill God’s purpose for mankind. Living the transformed life is a process, a journey that we each embark on when we personally accept and invite Jesus Christ to become Saviour and Lord of our lives. Our lifestyles must reflect the God we profess and embrace.
Where do we start from? By examining and practising some principles that have been clearly spelt out for us in the Bible.
- Let’s Live an exemplary life no matter where you are: Philippians 2:15 advises us to ‘…become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world’.
This Bible verse is clearly telling us to do what is right whether other people are doing it or not. It is telling us to live differently, to strive to live above reproach, so that just as light drowns out darkness, our conduct shall be an example that others will be provoked to respect and to live by.
- Let’s Eschew self-centredness by looking out for the interests of each other: Philippians 2:4 tells us ‘Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.’
This is an indirect way of telling us to be selfless in all our pursuits. As humans, we are naturally prone to selfishness. It is this selfishness that makes us take decisions and carry out certain actions that only favour us even if they are detrimental to our fellow humans.
- Let’s not wait for the government to do everything: James 2:14-16 – “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deed? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?”
There are some things we can do as individuals in our own small way. This, I believe, is intended to make Christians understand that using our resources to assist less privileged people in society is an opportunity for us to exercise our faith and to honour God.
- Stewardship requires faithfulness: Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful – 1 Corinthians 4:2.
Everything we have has been entrusted to us by God and as stewards, He expects us to be faithful in handling/managing what has been given to us. The first thing God entrusted to us from day one of creation was the earth.
- Let’s respect authority and national laws: 1 Peter 2:13- ‘Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honour the emperor. Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.’
This scriptureencourages us to respect authority not just at face value but out of respect for God and hierarchies created to establish order in society. Respect for authority keeps us in check and forces us to exercise discipline in fulfilling our obligations (e.g. payment of taxes, pension contributions, etc.) towards the development of the nation.
- Let’s be content: Hebrews 13:5 tells us ‘Let your conduct be without covetousness, and be content with such things as you have’ and 1 Timothy 6:6 says ‘Now godliness with contentment is great gain’. I may be wrong but I believe that contentment is the antidote to greed and covetousness which breed corruption in various forms and at various levels in our society. There is nothing wrong with being ambitious but there is a difference between being ambitious and being covetous. Most of the woes of our nation today could/would be avoided if Christians in diverse positions of authority, influence, and power remember this Scripture and pause in their excessive pursuit of material things. Let’s examine our hearts and our motives in our pursuit of money and material things. Are we seeking to acquire something or more of something because we truly need it or because we want to out-compete someone else? Are we living within our means or beyond it? Only we can truthfully answer these questions.
- Let’s eschew idleness: The Bible is clear on this. 2 Thessalonians 3:10 explicitly puts it this way ‘…if anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.’ We all know from our basic economic lessons that employment drives productivity at all levels within the economy. If no one works, nothing gets done, nothing gets produced and revenue generation channels simply cease to exist. Working does not always require us to be employed by others. The fact that God has called us to live a transformed life is no excuse for us to spend 24 hours in church when we should be at our workplace offering our services and/or generating income/revenue. There is time for everything. Jesus Christ Himself gave us this counsel in Mark 12:17‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s’.
- Let’s pursue justice and fairness in all our dealings: God expects us to be fair, honest, and truthful in all our dealings.
Colossians 4:1 says “Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven”.
To be continued!!
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By Dr. Joyce Aryee, the author