As We Go Through this Life

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The words are heard from meetinghouse pulpits, the same words appear in devotional literature. “as we go through this life…” Often, these words are used to preface the thoughts that will quickly follow. A speaker may use these words to introduce the need for certain actions that must be taken to assure our readiness for the Lord’s return. A writer may use the term “as we go through this life…” to establish the concept of an ongoing responsibility. The words “as we go through this life…” are intended to prepare the audience for the seriousness of what is to come next. While the inspiration, instruction, or admonition that will follow these words is usually worthy of our attention, we should also give heed to the words used to introduce that message. “as we go through this life…”

“As we go” not only implies the process of going, but also the manner in which we go. All humanity is destined to “go through” life to one extent or another, but it is the manner in which “we go through this life” that differentiates the life lived unto self, and the life lived unto God. We live in a society that places a premium on accomplishment. It seems that those individuals whose achievements are more visible in society, receive the greater esteem of society. The desire for this public appreciation has caused many people to devote their life to an endless quest to accomplish more and more. With the completion of each project, society lauds the individual for building yet another road, making yet another sale, surmounting yet another obstacle. This person is perceived as having what it takes to succeed. He has drive. As the applause dwindles, the need for man’s esteem drives this person to accomplish more. When that project is completed, another one must be started in order to bolster the image of being someone who has drive.

The Bible plainly speaks against another common malady of modern society, laziness. The apostle Paul declares in his letter to the Thessalonian church that productivity is important. “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thess 3:10). Of the three servants identified in Matthew Chapter 25, two servants are commended for their productivity. Their lord promises that they will be rewarded for their faithfulness. The remaining servant, who hid his master’s talent in the ground, was not only condemned for his slothfulness, but also declared to be “wicked” by the one who had given him the talent in the first place. It is clear from the Scriptures that “as we go through this life,” God’s people are to get something accomplished. The desire to do the work of God is truly a noble ambition. We tend to identify the motivation to accomplish things as a component of noble character. However, ambition can become its own snare. Satan can subtly pervert holy ambition into carnal drive. When constantly rewarded with the praise of men, one with “drive” is in danger of becoming “driven.” It becomes a manner in which “we go through this life…”

In John 15:1-2, Jesus reveals several principles relating to productivity, work, and accomplishment. as we go through this life, our understanding of these concepts will influence the manner or way in which we go. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” Jesus describes Himself as the true vine. He identifies Himself as the sole source of all that is needed by the branch to bear fruit. He supplies the nourishment. He supplies the energy. Only because of its intimate relationship to the true vine is the branch capable of productivity. attached to the vine, the branch is able to accomplish the thing for which God designed it. In verse 5, Jesus reiterates this relational truth and concludes with some strong words relating to productivity. “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” What happens if the branch tries harder? “Without Me ye can do nothing…” The manner in which the branch relates to the vine is that of a calling, not that of being driven. The branch produces in response to the measure that the vine supplies. The branch does not limit the productivity of the vine by its own will or selfish ambition. The branch does nothing for display or vainglory. The branch simply fulfills a “calling.”

The person who is driven is under the constant obligation to produce more and more. There is no rest in the driven life. It is to be sentenced unto Satan’s bondage with terms of hard labor. Over time, the tremendous effort expended produces diminishing returns. Like Martha of Luke 10, we become “cumbered about much serving” until productivity becomes a duty, an end in itself. In contrast, a life lived in response to God’s call does not seek the praise of men. It seeks only to please the Master, the One who supplies the needed strength, wisdom and grace to achieve the task requested. The “call” of God to be fruitful laborers in His vineyard becomes our delight. As we go through this life with its demands for productivity and accomplishment, what manner of life best expresses the humility of Jesus Christ to society addicted to the praise of others? Should our neighbors see us as those that are “driven” in our activities? Would they more clearly comprehend the Lordship of Jesus Christ if they sensed that we are actively living out a “calling” from God?

While each of us will experience a unique earthly journey, everyone must “go through” life. God has determined it be so. To choose the manner in which we “go through” life is left to each individual. as we go through this life, will we be driven or called?

— Barnett MO
May 2010