When “The Good Life” Isn’t That Good!

The online encyclopedia Wikipedia defines the “good life” as a philosophical term, originally associated with Aristotle, for the life that one would like to live.  The world of marketing and advertising has many definitions for the “good life,” all of which revolve around the stuff of this world:

  • Expensive new car
  • Expansive home in a nice neighborhood
  • Fancy clothes
  • Fantastic marriage
  • Trouble-free children
  • Well-paying job with room to climb
  • Influential social circle
  • Enough money not to work
  • Lying on the beach sipping a cool drink

I’m sure you could add to the list of all the “more” that the world tells us we need in order to live “the good life.”  The challenge with looking for this good life, as the world defines it, is that when and if you find it, it never delivers what it promised.  As a pastor, I get to work with a lot of men.  Many of them have achieved what the world would call the “good life,” yet many of them are still not satisfied.

Pastor Tullian has just begun a series on “Ecclesiastes.”  The author, whom many scholars believe was King Solomon, had amassed great wealth and possessions . . . everything he could possibly imagine under the sun that would comprise “the good life.”

I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces . . . I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem . . . And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2:7-11)

Here is a question to consider: When you get everything you want and you are still not satisfied, now what? Our beloved pastor has been teaching us the answer to that question for some time now: “Jesus plus nothing equals everything; everything minus Jesus equals nothing at all!”

How would you define the good life?  What would make for a satisfying life, one marked by meaning, significance, and purpose?  Let me suggest that a change in vocabulary would be profitable for all of us.  Instead of focusing on the proverbial “good life,” we should be focusing on the “grace life” that naturally flows out of our intimate, personal relationship with Jesus.  You see, the grace of the Gospel changes our perspective about the “good life.”  Gospel grace opens us up to understanding the truth that the Giver is more important than the gifts He gives. 

Now, I know there are countless gifts the Giver gives to those who are His children and they are indeed good gifts.  He loves to give good gifts to His children; what good father doesn’t?  But God never intended for His children to find more meaning . . . more pleasure . . . more happiness . . . more satisfaction . . . more life in the gifts that were given, rather than in the Giver who so graciously gave them.      

We need to remember that the greatest gift Jesus has given is Jesus!  To be sure, there are great rewards to being in Christ, but none of them are better than Christ Himself.  Christ brings great change in the life of everyone He saves.  Wounds get healed.  Alcoholics get sober.  Drug addicts get clean.  Angry people get calm.  Pharisees get grace.  I could go on.  Yet if we focus more on the change than we do the Changer, we miss the greatest portion of what Jesus gave us: HIMSELF!  If Jesus is your definition of the “good life,” pursue Him will all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

This is the Gospel.  This is grace for your race.  NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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