10 Rules of Life for a Follower of Jesus
A Guide to Help You Live a More Fulfilled Life (Part I)
We all live by a set of rules that guide the choices we make and the attitudes we hold.
We all have a ‘Rule of Life’. The question is if we are intentional in naming and following the rules that will help us be most faithful as followers of Jesus Christ. Left unexamined, we can allow external, worldly influences to shape and even overwhelm our rules of life. We can become ‘conformed to the standards of this world’ (Romans 12) without even knowing it.
A study of scripture will reveal a host of possible rules for life. We must each define for ourselves what we will choose to lift up as non-negotiables.
What are the absolutes in your life? What behaviors and attitudes will you commit to as the foundation for your witness and work?
In our book, The Choice, my colleagues Gary Hoag, Wes Willmer and I offered ten rules of life based on our commitment to be faithful stewards and steward leaders. Here are the first five:
As a follower of Jesus Christ, I commit:
1. To define success as obedience to the teachings of Jesus Christ in God’s Word
How we define success drives everything we do. If success is defined in terms of financial strength, career advancement or the accumulation of experiences, these markers will demand our attention and compete for resources of time and energy. When you look at your calendar, your to do lists and your sources of satisfaction they will point you to the driving forces in your life.
For followers of Jesus there must be one driving force that trumps all others, namely, an unequivocal passion for knowing and following God’s will and purpose in your life. As God’s people we succeed when we hunger and thirst for righteousness. We succeed when we seek God’s will for every decision in life and refuse to move ahead until we know it. We succeed when we place God’s will above our desires, God’s way above our plans, and God’s wisdom above our own cleverness.
This rule of life is simple, to know and do God’s will above all else. It is the bedrock of everything else we seek to do with the life God so graciously gives us.
2. To resist the temptation of control by instead placing my confidence in God’s promises
The serpent’s offer in Eden rings in our ears every day whenever we are tempted to grab control for ourselves. To ‘be like God’ is the defining passion of our old, sinful nature. This rule of life requires us to take seriously the need to
‘trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not on your own understanding.’ Proverbs 3:5
Paul pleads with us like he did the church in Colossae, “Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules?” Why indeed!
For followers of Jesus the first step in the victorious Christian life is surrender. It starts on our knees where we daily renounce the desire to play the owner and grasp control. Instead we seek for the heart of the steward who joyfully manages what he does not own and rests securely in the Master’s promises.
This rule of life requires us to acknowledge both God’s sovereignty and God’s love. He is big enough to handle every situation, and He loves us enough to do so in our favor. Why would we not place our full confidence in Him?
3. To resist the temptation of idolatry and trusting in money or possessions rather than God
Let’s face it, money makes us feel secure. The more we have the less we tend to worry about paying bills and surviving unexpected crises. Yet both Jesus and history have taught us that money is a fickle foundation for true security. And worse, when we make it an idol it causes us to look at it and away from Jesus. That is the nature of idols, they demand our attention. How much time do you spend focused on issues related to money; how to earn it, invest it, protect it, spend it and earn more of it…? Jesus was clear, ‘where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.’
For followers of Jesus, we must be tenacious and merciless when it comes to tearing down every vestige of this idol in our lives. We replace it with a joyful trust in God’s abundant provision. When He is all we need, we will always have all we want.
This rule requires us to be brutally honest in identifying our idols and unrelenting in destroying them. In their place we seek first God and His kingdom in full trust that all else we need will be ‘added unto us’.
4. To resist the temptation of pride by finding my identity and affirmation in Christ alone
We all love applause. It comes in many forms and it always makes us feel valued, affirmed and appreciated. At face value it seems innocent enough, but behind it lurks a powerful enemy. Like all sin, pride comes into our lives quietly, dressed in acceptable garb so as not to draw our attention or raise concern. Then it works its way through our mind and heart like yeast through dough until our rule of life becomes shaped by our desires to hear applause from every other source than the hands of our Savior. As we do, we tie our identity to those sources and then wonder why we have lost a sense of who we are.
For followers of Jesus we have but one triune source for our identity. We are children of God, disciples of Christ and heirs of salvation through the power of the Holy Spirit. If that is the source of our true identity, it will also be the one place we look for the applause and affirmation we seek.
This rule requires us to check our heart and identify the pride that lurks within. It then commits us to find our identity solely in Christ and to seek only the sweet applause that comes from nail-scarred hands.
5. To submit to the Father and be filled, led and empowered by the Holy Spirit
This may seem basic as a rule of life. After all, to whom else would we submit but God alone? Well here’s a few options. We could submit to fear, submit to pride, submit to ambition, submit to despair or submit to our passions. To submit means simply to come under the power and influence of another. When we fear for our future, let our pride rule our lives, drive ourselves through unbridled ambition, wallow in despair or yield to our base passions, we submit to some power other than God’s.
As a follower of Jesus submission and filling are two sides of the same coin. By submitting we empty ourselves that we might be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. That infilling provides us with the guidance and power we need for victorious living as a child of God. Just like dying to sin gives birth to rising to righteousness and living in Christ, so emptying ourselves through submission gives birth to the infilling of the Spirit and living the joyful, purposeful life in Christ.
This rule brings us to our knees in humble submission then lifts us up to the heights of life and service for which God created us. It is the ultimate act of imitating Christ, who began as a child in a manger and will come again on the clouds of heaven as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Come Lord Jesus.