BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
Over a decade ago, I read a story – the story of a young communist student in West Berlin, Germany, trying to escape to East Germany with some secret files he had stolen. Unfortunately, he was shot. Before he died, he said to the soldiers, “I am dying for communism, what are you living for?” God’s servant, Howard G. Hendricks, aptly said, “A belief is something you will argue. A conviction is something you will die for.” You may not like that young communist because of what he died for, but, what I want to emphasize is that question he asked: “What are you living for?”
May I ask you that same question: What are you living for? Are you living for what is eternal or what is temporary? Are you living for what is sinful or what is holy? Are you living for what will take you to heaven or what will send you to hell fire? Rom 2:7-8 says, “He [God] will give eternal life to those who persist in doing what is good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and practice evil deeds” (NLT). Are you living for God or for yourself? The consequences of both are in that scripture you’ve just read. Read it again please.
What Enoch lived for
At 65 years, Enoch decided to walk with God and walked with Him for 300 years. When he was 365years old, he had a supernatural translation. “Enoch lived sixty-five years, and begot Methuselah. After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Gen 5:21-24 NKJV). Enoch lived for God.
Methuselah lived 969 years and died. He is the oldest man that ever lived in the Bible but nothing concrete was said about him (Gen 5:25-27). We have no idea how he lived his life.
It is not enough to live a long life. It is important to live for the right purpose. What God will ask you at the end of your life on earth is “What did you live for?” It is true God has promised you long life. “With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation” (Ps 91:16 ASV). But what God will ask you ultimately is: Did you live for me? Did you live for the purpose for which I created you?
Learning from Esau
Esau satisfied his material desire and lost a sacred inheritance. He sold his birthright for a plate of food (Gen 25:29-34).
The Book of Hebrews described Esau as a profane person – immoral or godless – because of his disrespect for his inheritance. “Lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears” (Heb 12:16-17 NKJV). He must have been ashamed of himself later.
Jesus later taught us not to live by food alone but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God (Luke 4:4). Jesus actually quoted from Deut 8:3: “…people need more than bread for their life; real life comes by feeding on every word of the LORD” (NLT). Don’t live for food or material things! There is a purpose God created you for on earth. Your salvation is to bring you to discover and fulfill this purpose.
Learning from Joseph and Paul
Joseph was a young man with a divine purpose. Unlike many youths today, he refused to live for sexual immorality. He lived for God. He lived to see the fulfillment of God’s plan for his life. Because of the fear of God Joseph had, he told his seducer, Mrs. Portipha, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Gen 39:9b NKJV)
The apostle Paul was also a man who lived for God, just as he had lived for the devil before his conversion. “For when I tried to keep the law, I realized I could never earn God’s approval. So I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ. I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:19-20 NLT). Paul was a God addict!
Learning from Jesus
Look at the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. At age 12, He already knew what to live for and He was in the Temple discussing deep questions with the religious teachers. He told Mary, His earthly mother and those looking for Him: “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49 NKJV) He spent the next 18 years preparing for the purpose God sent him to the earth to fulfill. At the age of 30, He started his ministry. He got twelve people, His disciples, around Him. He invested himself in them and died about three and a half years later. Over two thousand years after, the work He began is still continuing. How true that statement is, that the worth of a life is not in the duration, but in the donation! What are you living for?
Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth” (Mark 1:38 NKJV). Take note of that phrase: for this purpose I have come forth. He knew the purpose for which He came to the earth and would not allow any distraction or delay. For what purpose were you born?
Jesus knew the right thing to live for and He lived for it. He lived for what is eternal not for ephemeral purposes. Eventually, He went to the cross to die for your sins and my sins. “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour” (John 12:27 NKJV). Take note again of that last sentence: But for this purpose I came to this hour. What is your own purpose? Jesus’ life was driven by divine purpose. Jesus did not live on earth for His personal enjoyment. He did not live to pursue a selfish ambition. He didn’t do a ministry that satisfied only his emotions and interest.
1John 3:8b tells us again part of the purpose that Jesus lived for. “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (NKJV). What purpose are you living for?
What the Rich young ruler lived for
The Rich young ruler lived for his wealth. He loved his money more than God and he missed a good opportunity to become a disciple of Jesus and missed eternal life. He couldn’t do what Jesus told him to do – to go to sell all that he had, give the money to the poor so as to have treasure in heaven; and then come to take up his cross and follow Jesus (Mark 10:17-22). But he couldn’t deny himself to do this. “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Mark 8:34b NKJV). What are you living for?
I have shown you the examples of these Bible characters to make your decision. What example will you follow? Are you going to follow the example of those who lived for God or the example of those who didn’t live for God? Will you be a God addict or a world addict? Will you be a sin addict or a holiness addict?
The end time
This is the end time, and Bible tells us what the end time lifestyle will be. “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly” (Luke 21:34 NKJV). This is the end-time when the Bible says many will be living as enemies of the cross of Christ. Those who live like this have destruction waiting for them. “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame — who set their mind on earthly things” (Phil 3:18-19 NKJV). Are you an enemy of the cross of Christ or a friend of Christ? What are you living for?
As rightly said by a servant of God, the purpose of God for your life was determined in eternity past, but you don’t have eternity to fulfill it. Do you know that? There is a time fixed for every purpose and matter. Indeed, the time is short! Jesus lived for thirty-three and a half years, but had only about three and a half years to fulfill his destiny. The discovery of God’s purpose for your life and living for it in your generation is what will define you. That will be the summary of your life. What are you living for?
Living for vanity or for God?
Some people are living for vanity – beauty, fashion, money, ambition, career, fame, entertainment, etc. These things are transient. 1 John 2:17 warns, “And this world is fading away, along with everything it craves. But if you do the will of God, you will live forever” (NLT). What are you living for? When you’re old and waiting for death, will you be happy how you’ve lived your life? Will you be ashamed of yourself or be proud you’ve lived a God-centred life? Are you living a life that will qualify you for the rapture if it should take place now?
Reflect on your life today, repent and begin to live for God; stop living for self and the devil. “For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (Gal 6:8 NKJV).
Jesus’ warning in Mark 8:36-38 is very instructive if you are going to live for God. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (NKJV).
You may be a Christian, even a pastor, or may be a non-Christian or a nominal Christian, what are you really living for? On that Day of Judgment, many people will be so ashamed of what they had lived for. “Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as ‘Lord,’ but they still won’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The decisive issue is whether they obey my Father in heaven. On judgment day, many will tell me, ‘Lord, Lord, we prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Go away; the things you did were unauthorized” (Matt 7:21-23 NLT). What are you living for?
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus and begin to live for God by living in obedience to His Word. You also need to prayerfully find out God’s plan for your life and begin to live for it. “Here is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is the duty of every person. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad” (Eccl 12:13 -14 NLT).
If you’re not born again, I invite you to take the following steps: *Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start to attend a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church. There you will be taught how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: “O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent and confess my sins. I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and surrender my life to Him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.”
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible believing, Bible teaching church in your area where you will be taught how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things becoming all God wants you to be. I’ll be glad to hear from you. May the Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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