Letter (on Living the Christian Life)

Dear Friend,

I hope this letter finds you well. I realized recently that it has been a while since we have talked, so I figured I would write you. First, I wanted to make sure you know that I still pray for you on a very regular basis. I am grateful for the growth I see in you and for the effort I see you making. It seems evident that God is working in you both to want what He wants and to do what He wants. I pray that God’s Spirit would continue to show you ways to grow as well as give you the desire to pursue that growth. I have no doubt that is what He will do. Second, I wanted to take the opportunity to encourage you in your faith by reminding you of some basic parts of the Christian life.

I know you have heard these things before, but it never hurts to be reminded. Especially in our day and world, it is easy to get distracted by many of the “new” and “exciting” things that come across our TV or computer or phone. In the midst of all that noise, we need to remember what is of utmost importance. I pray these things will spur you on to those things.

Above all else, remember the good news that you are justified by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Your salvation is a gift that God has freely given you (Eph. 2:8-10). Because of His love for you, God sent His Son to earth so that you could believe in Him and have eternal life (John 3:16). Because of His love for you, Jesus gave Himself up for you (Gal. 2:20). God put our sins on the sinless One so that we as sinful people could be delivered from sin and one day be sinless (2 Cor. 5:21). The perfect Son of God was wounded for your transgressions and crushed for your iniquities – and that wounding and crushing has brought you peace (Isa. 53:5). By faith in Him, we experience the forgiveness of sin, the new life of the Spirit, and the promise of eternal life with Him (Eph. 1:3-14). And one day, the One who has saved us will come again to take us to be with Him – He will fully and finally deliver us (1 Thess. 4:17). This is good news, and you should rejoice in it as often as you can.

And in light of that glorious salvation, you should walk in holiness now. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead gives life to our mortal bodies now (Rom. 8:11). Jesus bore our sins in His body on the tree so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness now (1 Pet. 2:24). As those who know what is coming, we should live lives of holiness and godliness now as we wait for the coming day of glory (2 Pet. 3:11-12). When Jesus appears, we will be like Him, and those of us who have that hope should purify ourselves now (1 John 3:2-3). But what does that sort of life of holiness look like? Here are the basics, friend – may we never forget them:

First, love God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength (Matt. 22:37-38). He is the One we should care about most – more than our friends, more than our family, more than anyone. Think of Him first, think of Him most, and think of Him best. Make sure He gets the best of you. Pursue Him with the best of you. Don’t give Him your leftovers. Love Him most. Think about the fact that the reason you are alive is because of Him (Acts 17:25). Think about the fact that the reason you are saved is because of Him (Eph. 2:8-9). Those are good gifts from Him that we did not deserve, and we should love Him for giving them to us. Love Him. Make sure you are spending time with Him everyday – reading His Word, praying to Him, and having fellowship with Him.

Second, fear God (Eccl. 12:13). He is the person whose opinion is most important. At the end of the day, it does not matter if everyone in the world thinks we are great if God is not pleased with us (Matt. 16:26). We should care more about the One who has power over our body and our soul than about those who can only harm our body (Matt. 10:28). Make sure that the first question you always ask is “What does God want me to do right now?” And don’t just guess the answer – study His Word to find the answer. If the opinions of other people are more important to us than the opinions of God, then we have a serious problem, and we are in serious trouble. Fear God. Care more about what He thinks that what anyone else thinks.

Third, trust God. I know you sometimes struggle with anxiety. I know you sometimes struggle with worrying about “What if…?” But the truth is that worrying does not accomplish anything (Matt. 6:27). We have to decide if we believe in God or not. He has promised to meet our needs (Matt. 6:33). He has promised to make everything – even bad things – work out for our good (Rom. 8:28). We all have to decide everyday if we will believe those promises or not. God is faithful, and He always does what He says. Cast your anxieties on Him because you know He cares for you (1 Pet. 5:7). Don’t waste your time worrying about things you don’t know or things you cannot change. Let God take care of those things, because He does know, and He can change things. Leave the things outside of your control to God. You can trust Him, so do it. He loves you, and He is good.

Finally, love other people. In all honesty, I think we sometimes make life harder on ourselves because we spend too much time thinking about ourselves and our own problems. We all do that sometimes – me included, and it always leads to bad things. The truth is that everyone has problems and troubles. Instead of thinking just about ourselves, we’re supposed to look for ways to help others. We’re supposed to love other people like Jesus loved us (Eph. 5:2; Phil. 2:4). Instead of just worrying about our own burdens, we are called to help other people carry their burdens (Gal. 6:2). We have to stop thinking so much about ourselves and start thinking about other people and looking for ways to help them. Don’t lock yourself away in your house and waste your time on yourself. Find some work. Volunteer. Write a note or make a visit. Find a way to give up your time and energy and ability in service to someone else. God will bless that and use that.

These things are the essence of the Christian life. We never graduate past them. We should only grow deeper in them. I pray that will be the case for you. Once again, I hope this is an encouragement. I am thankful for you, friend. I pray for you often and love you in the Lord. Grace and peace…

In Christ,