I’ve found that trying to live a good life is challenging. I’m sure most people reading this will agree that life can be demanding and even discouraging a lot of the time. There is pressure at home, pressure at work, the pressure we put on ourselves to excel and succeed, and the pressure knowing that we might not be living up to God’s standard.
In this article, I want to look at the basics of following Jesus. I want you to understand that having the good life does take some effort and commitment before it gets good. Many of us would prefer that we could wake up and decide that we’ll be better and have our life somehow miraculously improve that day.
Well, from what I understand, God does want your life to improve, and He does want to help with the process, but like a loving father, He doesn’t want to just hand the keys to the Porsche. He wants each of us to grow in maturity, being able to handle the life He gives. The end result might be a Porsche, but for now, He’ll start us with a Toyota.
Sorry, I’m a bit of a car nut, but the idea is, God wants to form us into the character He envisioned us to be when He created us, but we need to put in the effort daily to work up to that character. If He just gave us the end result right away, it’s possible that we wouldn’t be able to handle it.
Related: How to be happy when life is hard?
And to clarify, when I say “the good life,” I’m not necessarily talking about wealth or possessions or health or power, but overall, a general well-being – the way God wants us to be. I’m talking about the life that Jesus is talking about in the Gospel of John:
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
This is the life that allows for peace and joy and freedom and eternity with God. This is the kind of good life that allows us to be victorious over the enemy and to not live in continual sin which leads to death and separation from God.
So, how do we do it?
Table of Contents
We can’t coast through life as Christian and expect to live the Good life
With the most obvious first step to the good life being to renounce a life of sin and accept Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior, a close second is to work daily to build that relationship up.
Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
There are too many Christians who initiate a relationship with Christ, but then only visit Him on weekends at the church service. Yes, you should join a church and be there and be part of it, but what about the other six days of the week? Could your relationship with your spouse grow and be fruitful if you only visited with them for two hours each week? Probably not, right?
Related: Are you a Lukewarm Christian?
Accepting Jesus into your heart does gain you Salvation, provided you were sincere and truly believed. However, how could God have a chance to do any work in your life if you simply carried on living the way you formerly did? He wouldn’t be able to work with you and you would see no progress.
This is why Jesus said, “deny himself and take up his cross DAILY” in the above Scripture. God wants you to learn the stories of the bible and to memorize verses and to be good, but most importantly over all these, He wants you to have an intimate relationship with His Son. He wants you to be genuinely interested in spending time with Jesus and seeking Him from your first thought of the day right through your last thought.
Obsession might be a strong word, and negative in some regards, but in this example, God wants you to be obsessed with knowing Jesus and striving to live the way He did when He was on earth. If you can recite a whole chapter in Proverbs, but have no faith in God, then God sees this as spiritual immaturity, and you’ll be stuck in the elementary phases of life.
Work daily to get to know Jesus. Read the bible each day and pray to God throughout the day. Work on building your faith in God and getting comfortable trusting God to provide, protect, and direct. The only way to do this is to give Him the opportunity. Find something you want to improve or change in your life and pray to God about it. Give Him time to work it out, and in the meantime, work on praising Him for His goodness and being patient and grateful for all that you have.
Work on doing what you can do and allow God time to do what you can’t do. Commit your days to His service and He will start moving the mountains in your life.
Following Jesus won’t stop the devil from attacking your life
Becoming a Christian doesn’t automatically cause the devil to give up on you. If anything, he will sink his nails in and hold on all the more tightly. However, becoming a Christian does give you the power to overcome his attacks.
The first defense here is knowledge.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints
Understanding that God has provided Spiritual Armor is helpful when it comes to battling the enemy. We as Christians are anything but defenseless against Satan. Yes, he is a powerful force, but only to those who live in continual sin and who don’t have the Spirit of God in them.
For those who do, a simple command in Jesus’ name is enough to drive the enemy away. But it’s a bit more than that. Satan is always knocking and looking for a way into your life. Any slip up is enough. Make good choices when watching movies, looking on the internet, listening to music, choosing friends, and avoid anything that would cause you to lie or be sneaky.
Any time you entertain an evil thought or participate in something that God wouldn’t approve of, you’re essentially opening the door for the devil to come in and mess up your life. Remember, it’s Jesus who offers the good life; Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy!
It won’t always be the popular choice in life to follow Jesus
If fame and fortune and popularity and power are your ideas of a good life, you might be disappointed when following Christ. Here on earth, most of these traits are what the devil offers. Jesus Himself didn’t have these when roaming the earth. He was made fun of, beat on, avoided, and ultimately, killed for what He believed and tried to share with others.
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
There is a great army of Christian brothers and sisters that you can become friends with and confide in, but since the secular world and the things of it belong to Satan, don’t count on others being too fond of your new-found good life.
But this isn’t to deter you from choosing to side with Jesus; instead, this is to bring you adequate realization that God has a different plan and that you must take on a new way of thinking and new goals. Goals to not necessarily build wealth on earth, but to store up treasures in Heaven; goals to not necessarily gain new friends for yourself, but to win souls to the Lord and to advance the Kingdom of God while on earth.
The decision to follow Jesus and gain in spiritual maturity will move you from selfish living to selfless living. There is a shift from “What can God do for me,” to, “What can I do for God.”
As you mature as a Christian, you’ll find that God’s plan becomes your plan. The plans and goals and desires you once had gradually change and line up with those that are of God’s. Again, this isn’t a bad thing. It’s just different.
The other sign of spiritual maturity is that you’ll start living for eternity, not for the temporal. That’s what instantly separates Christians from the secular groups. Satan wants people to act in the here and now and to seek things that bring instant pleasure. Most things that God wants take time to achieve and require a great deal of patience and faith.
Achieving the good and abundant life that Jesus speaks of is considered the narrow path that few find. It’s not heavily populated and there are few traffic jams, so to speak. There are ditches that lead to darkness and sin on both sides and all along the way. Satan has many workers whose only goal is to pull you off course. Instead of seeking all that the world offers, why not choose the less popular path and see what God offers?
There is a seemingly good life here on earth and there is also one in Heaven. There is a way to have both, but it doesn’t start the way most would think.
Following Jesus will lead to a good and abundant life, but this will take time. It might get worse before it gets better. But this is a way to build and test your character and faith. The life that Satan offers might come with immediate “benefits,” but are they true benefits? Has Satan ever done a good deed? Do his offers ever come without strings attached?
Jesus is offering a life of abundance that will last eternally, but not without some effort. Salvation is a free gift of God and can’t be earned. However, there is a life of abundance that Christ is talking about that can start right now, but does take some work. The only way to achieve this is to seek Christ daily and His Will and to trust Him for provision and protection and direction.
Trust in the LORD, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the LORD,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.
The good and abundant life that Jesus is offering is eternal and brings many benefits. But the path for following Jesus and staying in the Will of God is narrow and requires a higher level of dedication and commitment.
The only question you need to ask yourself is: is it worth it? I would argue that it is!
If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus, you can follow this link (Prayer for Salvation) to find out how. Also, if you need prayer for your life or your family, feel free to fill out a private prayer request in the provided prayer box in this article. My wife and I would love to pray for you.