Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Life Well Lived

"He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God!" (Micah 6:8, NASB)

I just finished reading A Life Well Lived: Discover the Rewards of an Obedient Heart by Chuck Swindoll, a book about Micah 6:8 (my favorite Bible verse). Janet gave it to me for Christmas. These are a few excerpts:

"What honors the Lord is a heart that beats in the same rhythm as His, a spirit that values the same qualities that define Him. He wants people who do what is right, who love kindness, and who walk humbly with Him. Do as Micah instructs, and you will not only honor the Lord you love, you will live life well" (p. 10).

"The quality of justice is the consistent, unwavering decision to do what is right. And when you choose to do what is right, you can walk and speak with complete confidence. Your thoughts and actions proceed from a clear understanding of truth. Though perhaps misunderstood, maligned, or even persecuted, you can walk with steadfast peace, knowing that the Lord understands and rewards those who remain faithful" (p.19).

"Let God reveal to you what is right from His Word. Read your Bible, not to discover what hurdles you must clear or what hoops you need to jump through in order to make the Lord happy, but to become increasingly intimate with His character. Set aside the newspaper and magazines, turn off the television, cancel some appointments, and make time to get into God's inspired, reliable Word. Discover timeless facts and principles directly from the Author of truth. Allow the reading of Scripture to prompt new perspectives and trigger new insights" (p. 28)

"Trust the transforming power of the Holy Spirit to lead you toward what is right. As the Holy Spirit does His work of gradual transformation, listen to your inner convictions. They are not the voice of God. They are the thoughts of a mind changed to think like the Lord Himself. Your old character and values will be exchanged for the Lord's so that you begin to think with the mind of Christ" (p.29).

"You may lose popularity. You might be denied opportunities you rightfully deserve. You might be persecuted for taking a stand for truth, or for defending the innocent, or for refusing to look the other way while others do wrong. Don't expect to be rewarded. Expect resistance. That doesn't mean you should become discouraged or timid, but don't be surprised when (not if) you face difficulties as a result of doing what is right" (p.30).

"Ours is an age in which the most coveted commodity is not gold but time. All too quickly we forgo the opportunity to be kind in order to gain a few extra minutes. And we typically don't even realize that we've made that exchange. I can tell you from my own experience it's a poor trade. I know that whenever I begin to treat people as obstacles in my path or use them as merely a means to getting things done, I become a smaller man. With each brusque comment, each dismissive glance, each curt reply, I lose a little more of myself. To make matters worse, my relationship with God suffers.
"When you and I find ourselves exchanging kindness for a few extra minutes, we're too busy. This is not the only reason for lack of kindness, but it's certainly one of the most common" (p. 35).

"Kindness takes time, yet we're usually in a rush. Kindness requires us to empathize with others, yet we are by nature self-centered. Kindness calls for compassion, yet judgment typically comes more naturally. Kindness demands a forgiving attitude, yet we find revenge more appealing" (p.36).

"Within each one of us a battle rages between the ugly sin of pride and the rare virtue of humility, the desire for status versus the longing for Christlikeness. It's a war we like to keep private. We rarely acknowledge it, we are reluctant to reveal it, and we secretly wonder if our own heart is the only one torn by this great conflict. Let me assure you, every heart is a battlefield. The fighting only subsides when the heart stops beating" (p. 62).

"The invitation to walk with God is an invitation to humility. It's an invitation to rest from the struggle to look like you've got it all together. It's an invitation to lay aside the burden of always having to be right. This is an invitation to be who you are---warts and all---without excuse, or apology, or feeling like you have to live up to someone's standard in order to be loved or respected. It's an invitation to cease the futile struggle to earn respectability and to enter God's rest" (pp. 62-63).

"Humility welcomes criticism and willingly accepts responsibility for moral faults and human flaws. It seeks to learn from accusations, even unjust ones. Humility responds to failure with a sincere desire to grow, and sees itself as perpetually needy of divine forgiveness and empowerment" (p.75).

"To quote a Yiddish proverb, 'If one man calls you an ass, pay him no mind. If two men call you an ass, go buy a saddle'" (p. 80).

"Day after day, year after year, the one who commits himself or herself to the pursuit of justice, kindness, and humility will most certainly develop strong character...When we doggedly do what is right, when we generously give kindness, and when we remain intimate with God, our conscience remains free of any nagging emotional aches. A clear conscience gives relief, relief grants freedom, freedom inspires joy, and joy bears the fruit of a robust sense of humor" (p. 98).

"Those who fret over their legacy have revealed themselves to be shallow, superficial people. When we do what is right, love kindness, and stay close to God, the natural product will be a lingering legacy by which anybody would want to be remembered. Live well now and you will continue to live well in the memories of the people you value" (pp. 100-101).

Chuck Swindoll's new book is worth buying. It is small (only 106 pages), but packed with good information.


preacherman said...

I want to live a life where others can say, he was a great husband, excellent faither, caring minister, but most of all he had a wonderful walk with God.

I believe this what Jesus is saying is living the abundant life.

I believe this is one of the best posts that you have ever done. I want to make me think about my life and challenging others to think about their lives as well.

Terry said...

I agree Preacherman. It is one of my best posts. Of course, Chuck Swindoll wrote it, but I'll accept the compliment on his behalf. Thanks for reading it!