Someone called me not long ago, and when I asked how they were doing they responded, “Oh, just living the good life.” I’ve heard this term said many times in my life. I may have even said this to myself as I floated in my pool this summer. Usually it’s said when you’ve gotten to do something you love, something that says “I’ve arrived.” Maybe you’ve finally gotten to go on that vacation and lay on the beach. Or maybe sailing on a boat on the open ocean. Maybe it’s said when that end-of-year bonus comes in or the stock market is up and your bank account is padded. Maybe then you get to buy that luxury vehicle and feel like you’re finally “living life.”
What does that mean, really… “the good life”? What exactly comes to your mind when you think of “living the life"? Is it the fact that you get to enjoy granite countertops, marble flooring, and plantation shutters instead of laminate, plain ‘ole linoleum, and plastic mini-blinds? How about the fact that you can start your vehicle without inserting a key, or starting it up before you’ve even opened the door? Do these things mean you’re “living the good life”? Maybe it’s when you get to buy that second home in the mountains. Maybe that’s it. What do you think? What defines or describes “life” to you?
But what happens, then, if that’s all taken away from you? What if you lost it all, or the ability to attain all that you’ve dreamed? What then? Does that mean that you’ll never really be able to “live the good life” or feel satisfied with what you have enough to call it “good life”?
Several years ago, God drew my attention to Psalm 63:3. He used that time to speak to me about the very things I’ve mentioned. Yes embarrassingly, life, to me, meant living in that comfortable, custom home with beautiful things and a pool, driving a luxury car, enjoying the finer restaurants, and taking lots of fun vacations with my family out of the country. And I wanted to continue to “live the good life.” But was that really the good life, or was it just a cheap imitation leaving me thirsty for more? Always more.
Psalm 63:3 says, “Because Your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise You.” I emphasized and underlined “life” in my Bible because that’s where God said to me, “Tricia, insert there, in that blank, whatever it is that you define as ‘living the life.’ Tricia, I want you to know and understand that whatever that is, My love that I lavish upon you through our intimate relationship is always going to be so much better than anything else you could ever want or dream.”
Now, fast-forward to the present time. Everything that I had previously said would be evidence that I was “living the good life” has been stripped away from me. My financial security has been taken away. Elaborate vacations have come to a halt. I search my purse for coupons to restaurants. The house and the luxury car have just been sold. Why do I tell you this? Rest assured, I don’t tell you these things for sympathy. I tell you because I have never – NEVER - felt like I was “living the life” until NOW! I read an article about an upstanding man who was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Until then, he had a thriving ministry that helped many lost and hurting souls find Jesus. He asked God why he had taken him out of the “game” and set him on the bench when he had so much more to give. God said, “Until now, you’ve been sitting on the bench. I’ve finally put you in the game.” Friends, that’s exactly how I feel!
CS Lewis said, “Prosperity knits a man to the world. He feels that he is finding his place in it, when really it is finding its place in him.” “Before” (that’s the catchphrase I use meaning “before my husband died”), before I was comfortably finding my place in the world, striving after & enjoying its pleasures. But the Bible warns us, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life —comes not from the Father but from the world” (1 John 2: 15-16); and sin John 12:25, it says, “Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.” What, exactly, does this mean? After all, isn’t it God who created this beautiful world with all the pleasures in it? When we’re told not to love the world, the Bible is referring to the world's corrupt value system. Satan is the god (little “g”) of this world according to 2 Corinthians 4:4, and he has his own value system contrary to God’s. Satan's system promotes the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Every sin imaginable can be summed up in those three evils - envy, adultery, pride, lying, selfishness, and more spring from those three roots. Let’s stop here a second and consider CS Lewis’ statement along with this additional information: “Prosperity knits a man to the world, which Satan is the god of, and hence, he knits himself to Satan’s value system. He feels that he is finding his place in it; when really, this corrupt value system is finding its place in him, promoting in him lust, envy, pride, lying, cheating, selfishness, gluttony, etc.”
Jesus said in Matthew 10:37-38 that if we love anything more than Him, we are not worthy of Him. So, is it a sin to enjoy the things this world offers? Because I love a vacation on the beach! No, absolutely not! But we can make idols out of anything. And you’ll know it’s an idol in your life from your reaction or response when it’s threatened or taken away from you! Or, you can just imagine now how you’d feel if it were stripped away. If it all was taken away, would your value, worth, or status take a hit? Would you feel lost and less-than? Would you feel like life was dull, over, not worth living? Or would you find that Jesus and His steadfast love for you were enough? Would you suddenly find the meaning of “the good life”? Would you find that you never were really living “before”? It’s a good thing to consider, friend; a good thing to ask ourselves. God wants you and me to truly live the good life! But it’s not the life Satan offers, for that is a cheap imitation that certainly leads to death. God offers a satisfying life, full of joy, peace and contentment! It is a life that puts you in the game that matters! There is nothing sweeter, nothing, than finding yourself praising God for all that you have and all that you don’t have. It’s where true life, the good life, is found.
So, I have to ask you, friend. Can you truly say, “Because Your steadfast love, God, is better than life, my lips will praise You”?