How does one lead a Christian life?
The Teachings of Christ
The very word "Christian" means follower of Christ. Therefore to lead a Christian life, we must follow the example and teachings of Christ. So what does Christ teach concerning how we are to treat our neighbors?
Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; [Matthew 5:38-44]
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. [Matthew 22:37-39]
We are to love everyone whether they be our closest friend or our bitterest enemy. We are to follow the golden rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Jesus illustrates this "rule" in the parable of the good Samaritan.
And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise. [Luke 10:30-37]
By Jesus's own command we are to follow the example of the Samaritan. We are to help our neighbors when they are in trouble.
Fruits of the Spirit
Paul speaks of how to live a Christian life to the Galatians. He terms the attributes of a Christian life to be "Fruits of the Spirit".
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. [Galatians 5:22]
Let us examine each of these attributes in detail.
Love is caring for others. Love for our brethern is required to be a child of God.
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. [John 13:34-35]
Adherence to this fruit of the Spirit requires that we truely care about the emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being of our fellow brethren. When we love our neighbor, we build a strong Christian environment.
Joy is happiness and a positive outlook on life. We should be joyful in our worship of God.
Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp. For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation. Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds. [Psalms 149:3-5]
Joy is contagious. Try this experiment: Smile at someone and watch their reaction. They will smile back. When we are truly happy in the Lord others will wonder what is so good in our lives. They will want to be a part of what we are a part of.
Peace can best be described as the opposite of war, strife, or bickering. Peace is a calmness of the spirit in the face of tension and adversity. We are to seek peace.
Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. [1 Peter 3:11]
In our lives strife brings on strife and bickering brings on bickering. Only by following the path of peace are we able to break the path of this evil.
Longsuffering, or patience, is not being quick to judge or rash.
Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. [James 5:7]
We are to demonstrate patience in our lives. When faced with problems or aggravations, we need to take a deep breath and count to ten. Only once we are calm are we able to address the issue at hand in Christian like manner.
Gentleness is demonstrated in Christian living through being soft spoken and not harsh with our words.
Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy gentleness hath made me great. [2 Samuel 22:36]
When we are gentle toward our brethren and show them kindness, we built an atmosphere of trust and friendship. We must watch our words and speak things that build other people up, not hurt their feelings.
Goodness in Christian life means being helpful and doing good works for our fellow brethren. We are to be full of goodness.
And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. [Romans 15:14]
An example of goodness would be to help a neighbor carry groceries to their car or to help gather in vegetables from the garden before a storm blows in.
Faith is putting our complete trust in God.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. [Hebrews 11:1]
By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. [Hebrews 11:7]
Faith is at the foundation of our belief. We have faith that God has a plan for our lives and faith that he has prepared a eternal life for his saints. To lead a Christian life we must have faith in God.
Meekness is being humble and not boastful or full of pride. Pride is a powerful enemy that separates us from God.
The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground? Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD. [Obadiah 1:3-4]
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. [Matthew 5:5]
In order to live a Christian life we must humble ourselves before God and submit to his will in our lives. Remember, our ways, thoughts, and abilities are insignificant when compared to those of God.
Temperance is moderation in all things. To our knowledge of God we must add temperance.
And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; [2 Peter 1:5]
In our lives we must not go overboard with anything. Over indulgence in food will make us overweight. Too much recreation will make us lazy while too much work will burn us out. We must strive to maintain balance in all things.
As Christians, we must follow the teachings and examples of Christ. We are to love all of our neighbors and help them when they are in trouble. We are to display the fruits of the spirit in all our world interactions. If we do these things, we will lead a positive, fulfilling life and bring others to God by our example.
Key Verse: Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.