“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
And so goes the most famous part of John 10 v10. We love to pull this one out at church services as an excuse to turn a family service into a party. Or to explain why it is good that we don’t get drunk or don’t have pre-martial sex or don’t do another sin. But when was the last time that someone got up and actually offered some advice on how to have the full life Jesus gives us? Ummm, I don’t know about you but I can’t remember. I can think of sermons telling me Jesus has given me a full life but no actual advice on how to achieve it.
Well, I am definitely no expert (you should have seen the look on my grandparents’ face when I said I was considering writing a bible story) but I thought it was time someone made a start on offering up a little bit of advice. So this week I will be sharing three tips based around faith; next week three tips based around fashion; the week after that three tips based around food. After all, those are the three areas I like to talk about the most. So let’s crack on with 3 Faithful Tips for a Fuller Life.
1. Discover the Passion and Gifts God Has Given You
1 Corinthians 12 is one of the go-to passages about the different gifts of the Holy Spirit. I think it is one of the most important as it reminds us that though gifts and forms of service come in several forms, they are all given to us by the same, awe-inspiring, God. Whether you have a gift with languages or tongues, with healing or teaching, even prophecy, the gifts we are given are all unique, distributed as God determines.
So where do our passions play into this? They may never be explicitly talked about- the Bible tends to focus on our gifts- yet often feel as if they are part of our very being. We don’t realise that through our passions, our gifts are often revealed. The teacher may have a passion for children’s work; those gifted with hospitality may have a passion for cooking. I’ve even noticed that my passions and hobbies, from children’s work through to blogging, have shown up a love for community that I hope reveals a gift for encouragement or empathy. Embracing my passions and gifts has made my life fuller, not just by filling the time but also giving me a purpose.
2. Pray and Do
Could I have thought of a less exact second point? Yet personal faith hangs on the two of them. The Christian who doesn’t pray will find that their faith begins to disappear. Just as you will drift away from a friend if you stop talking to each other, when prayer stops we can find ourselves drifting away from God. But when it comes to God, we can’t stop at just talking and listening with Him through two-way prayer. We also need to act on what comes out of that prayer. For example, you spend ages and ages and ages praying over the gifts that God has given you. You finally realise what your gift is and don’t do anything with it. What? That is just crazy! Praying and Doing go hand-in-hand as we act on what we learn through conversations with God.
Philippians 4 and James 2 contain passages that really pick up on these themes. Paul instructs the Philippians to not worry about anything but instead pray over everything, taking it before God. James talks about how faith that is not acted on may as well be dead. A full life definitely does not include a dead faith. Therefore a life filled with prayer, as a two-way conversation with God, that results in action become a fuller life.
3. Go Back to Scripture
Does studying scripture really lead to a fuller life? Well, so far we have talked about gifts from the Holy Spirit, including a list found in the New Testament. We’ve also seen how the Bible encourages us to pray and to act on what we pray. So clearly Scripture is the place to go when it comes to advice on living the full life faithfully. I want to encourage you to not just take my word for it. Get stuck in and take a look for yourself. Acts 17v11 tells us about the Christians in Berea who “examined Scripture every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Their habit of checking everything their “pastor” taught them with Scripture is one we should all adopt.
But I don’t want you guys to be just checking what I’m writing about here compared to Scripture. We (yes, including me) need to be checking absolutely everything against Scripture. Every major choice – so not what colour underwear to put on – needs to be guided by Scripture. As the Word of God, inspired by Him according to 2 Timothy, is the closest thing we have to God speaking to His Church, it would make sense that we use it as the basis of our life. After all, if we want a fuller faithful life, basing it around His guide for our lives would make so much sense.
So how to take these three tips and turn them into action? Here is how I would do it:
- Read the passages that I have mentioned here. Do you agree with what I have said?
- Do something that you enjoy. Find a way to turn into a hobby and passion that embraces other people and has a positive impact.
- Whatever is on your heart, pray about it. Then find out what you can do to be part of the solution and get involved.
- Let us know what you’ve put into action in the comments below.
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