In this lesson, we’re going to look at four “lines to live by” that are trusted by the world but will not produce eternal life. (This, of course, is inspired by Reader’s Digest old Lines to Live By feature.) We are bombarded with messages, ideas, and values that are not consistent with God’s words, but these are ideas that we may be comfortable with at a secular level.
Unwise Words to Live By
“God is Like Me.”
We have a tendency to create God in our own image. We are told to measure ourselves and others by our own standards, values, and experiences. In so many settings, we want to make God answerable to our standard of wisdom. Think about individuals who wish to judge God by their own sense of right or fairness; those who try to deal with or barter with God; those who think God will overlook things they are willing to overlook. In Romans 1, Paul makes it clear that the Creator is to be differentiated from the created. (See verses 21-25 especially.) There is a distinction between God and us.
Do we assume that God likes what I like and dislike what I dislike? Does this lead us to alter His word (“It’s outdated”)? Do we alter His worship to appease ourselves? Do we excuse ourselves of fault, assuming God has done the same. In I Peter 1, we are told to be holy as God is holy in all things. Instead of making God like man, we are to strive to be like God.
“My Body Image Equals My Worth.”
Think about how much emphasis is placed on our physical selves. It’s what we see every day, and there are diets, products, routines, and programs intended to tone and perfect our bodies, but we neglect the soul in these interests. Genesis 2:7 records God breathing living soul into man – this is how we are created in His image. Ecclesiastes 12:7 records that the dust (our physical bodies) returns to the dust, but the soul returns to God. Our soul is our worth, and we can’t neglect its growth and development.
Are we guilty of focusing on the physical and neglecting the spiritual. Matthew 10:28 records Jesus stating that we should not fear those who can destroy our body as much as we should fear He who can destroy our soul. This life is not the end-all and be-all of our existence, and our soul will last far longer than this body.
“The Ends Justifies the Means.”
Cheating, lying, and stealing are all considered wrong but can be justified if motivated by noble purposes. In I Samuel 15, we are probably familiar with Saul’s disobedience despite his claim to have done God’s command in verse 13, and he attempts to justify his actions through his motives. Samuel makes it clear that God is more interested in his obedience than his justifications.
“I Have Plenty of Time.”
To us, time is relative. We try to save, budget, and buy time. We change time zones, but there is still only 24 hours in a day. We always assume we have time to spend, so we advise to “sow your wild oats;” “You have your whole life ahead of you.” However, in Luke 12:13, Jesus tells the story of a rich man who takes this very tack – “I have goods laid up for many years.” His soul is required that very night. James 4:13 warns us against assuming too much when it comes to our future, and in Matthew 24:42-44, Jesus states twice that the day of His return is unknown.
Do we assume we have time to change? If we don’t have the strength to change now, do we really think we’ll somehow gain the strength to change later? Hebrews 3:7 encourages us to respond to God’s word today and not giving the world time to harden our hearts. In Hebrews 3:15 and 4:7, the author reinforces this point.
We can’t try to live by the world’s wisdom and hope to grow closer to God. God is unique, and our souls will be judged by Him one day. Will we be ready for that meeting, or will we procrastinate until it is too late? This depends on if we will live by God’s advice or man’s.
lesson by Tim Smelser