When I started to think about the subject of this blog, an old song popped into my mind. The words were written by Sammy Cahn and was first sung by Frank Sinatra in 1955. “Love and marriage, love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage. This I tell you brother; you can’t have one without the other.” No, this is not about marriage, or the validity of the words of the song. It is about the truth that “for” and “from” go together when living the Christian life.
Maybe you, like me, have tried to live “for Jesus.” I am not sure what it has looked like, or maybe even still looks like in your life, but in mine and others who I have counseled and taught, it looks like keeping the rules, staying away from bad things, doing good, keeping short accounts with God. Then there is trying to make sure He is pleased, serving in any area where help is needed, loving my enemies, and doing good to those who hurt me. I end up striving to do the life of Christ. In this scenario, I live “for” Jesus “from” self as my source. Disappointment, frustration, and shame were what I and others have experienced.
There is nothing wrong with desiring to live “for” Jesus. It is His desire for all of us. The problem comes not out of the “for,” but the “from” or even better, the “who.” Who is the source? Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Leaning on and depending on ourselves as the source will leave us shaking our heads in frustration and walking away from what we have called the “Christian life.”
The only way to live “for” Jesus is to live “from” Him. Look what happens when we let/allow Jesus to be our Source:
Jesus, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” Only by abiding and receiving from Him are we able to be fruit bearers.
Jesus also said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do because I go to My Father.” John 14:12. Because Jesus returned to the Father, He sent Holy Spirit to live in us and to be our power source.
”For it is God who works in you both to will and do for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13. The word “works” in this verse is the Greek word energeo. Holy Spirit is our energy and ability to live out the Christian life. Notice, “for His good pleasure!”
Then there is, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” Ephesians 3:20.
The power at work in us, is the power that raised Christ from the dead. “. . . the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead . . .” Romans 8:11.
As Christ is, so are we! “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgement; because as He is, so are we in this world.” 1 John 4:17.
“As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.” 2 Peter 1:3. “All things” are not things, they are encased in a Person, Jesus Christ. He is all we need for life and godliness and He lives in us by His Spirit.
A very familiar verse to finish, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13.
By all means live for Jesus while also living from Him!