Isaiah 5:20, Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

What is our greatest Christian influence in life? Words of condemnation or encouragement? Achievements? What we do for others? How we lead? How we follow? Our children? The money or property we acquire? Our lifestyle? Our death? How often we go to church? What we do for the church? Or something else?

On two occasions last week I heard the same statement in two situations. First, the statement was made regarding a couple as tribute to the way their lives served others. The second was from people attending a funeral regarding the lady who died.

The statement: “They are/were good people.” This was made in regard to the couple and to the deceased lady and her husband (who preceded her in death). In both instances, it was made by people whose lives were beneficially touched.

A striking reality I frequently encounter is this: people do not know how to live. Much of my life is spent sharing realities about life’s focus. As our culture "advances," people’s challenges and problems become more (not less!) complex.

Two things astound me. First: numerous persons have little or no idea that choices and decisions produce consequences. Careless, thoughtless choices and decisions commonly produce bad consequences. It is astounding to witness how often people are shocked because choices or decisions made with little thought produce devastating consequences in their lives.

Second: people have a poor concept of God. With no disrespect intended, often people’s concept of God is the concept of an idol. He is what they make Him. They are definite about what He is and what He is not. They are certain about what He does and does not like. They are convicted about what He will and will not do for them (though most emphasis is on the "will").

As a result, in each situation, God is commonly the "scapegoat" when something occurs they do not like. With strong conviction, they "know" the bad happening is God’s fault!

My life is spent as a preacher and writer. Obviously, I believe in the power of words. I have not lost confidence in the power of words (or I would not be writing this!).

Yet, I am convinced something is more powerful than words. A life well lived in faith is more powerful than words. I am not speaking of success-centered, or pleasure-centered, or fun-filled, or wealth-filled life. I speak of life well lived -— a life that treats even an enemy with respect and kindness, that treats all with compassion, that draws his/her values and standards from God and lives by them, that understands faith is a 24/7 commitment, that understands Christ is reflected by service rather than control.

Only those who know how to live by faith know how to die by faith. These Christians teach people how to live! What do people learn about living from your life?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 3 February 2005

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