In the past few months, my family has had the honor of attending multiple funerals. If you’ve ever been to a funeral or visitation, which I am doubtless many of you have, you understand the amount of thought that goes into and leaves the event. The families that prepare for such occurrences put a lot of time and love into the decorations, venue, and more. But the people that attend them probably leave with more contemplations than they should, at least I did. For example, after a recent funeral service, I started to question, “What is the secret of life?” I was honestly more interested in what the term meant (I had just heard it thrown around a few times), but what I found were a lot of results of cheesy quotes and pictures saying things about “happiness” and “doing your best”, but I left the initial research being more curious than I started. So, without further ado, here are five steps to the secret of life:
1. Living sold out for your Savior
This is a pretty obvious one for Christians, and that’s why it’s number one. If you’re not a Christian, then (no offense intended) you really don’t have any eternal meaning in your life. You see, Christians were saved once they understand an overflow of mercy from God to man. In order to live “sold out for your Savior” you have to really grasp the full meaning of the mercy that God showed. Mercy is when someone shows forgiveness towards another person who did nothing to deserve it. YEP! THAT’S IT. I did nothing. NOTHING. But God still showed His mercy on me (and on everybody else) because He created and loves me. Once you understand this principle, it’s really not that hard to live your life everyday for Christ. You will mess up, but because you love Him, you brush the dirt off, get back up, and keep trying your best to obey.
2. Loving your family
If you are a teenager (or younger), your family comprises the closest people to you right now. That is, even though you’re starting to get more freedoms and liberties now that you’re older, you’ve been around them your entire life. You know all about them and they know all about you. Because your family already loves you, it’s easier to begin the early stages of finding the “secret of life” with loving your family back. Your parents love you and I think you know that. Your love for Christ in step 1 should now begin overflowing into your family. You want to follow Christ’s commands and so you start by living at peace with your siblings, obeying your parents, not complaining, and so much more. Just work hard on loving them first, and the rest should come after.
3. Loving your church
Ok, so are your church and your friends the same thing? Probably. In the Bible we are called to be actively involved in our church, and now is a good time to start. Help set things up or take stuff down. Show your pastor that you care about their teaching by taking notes in a book (not on a phone. I have a story for later). Take care of the elderly or be a volunteer in child care. More than likely, there are things that you can do to help your church function and thrive.
4. Loving your friends and fellow man
Why is this so far down the list? Because, biblically, it’s not as important as loving your family or church. However, it’s still very much important. Show people the love of Christ with kind words, encouraging texts, or helping them with a problem they have. Share Christ with them because you care for them. This is our job as Christians (Matthew 28), and it’s pretty fun. Don’t get in unnecessary arguments for no reason (by the way, the “Did Han shoot first?” exchange drives me crazy…), but be a peacemaker.
6. Practice the Fruits of the Spirit
In church one time, our teacher said that the Fruits of the Spirit weren’t really different fruits, but that they were one. I had never thought about it like that, but it made sense. When you become a Christian, you don’t work on developing one fruit at a time, instead you start to notice that you begin living them out everyday at one time. Sure, you have more that you show more than others, but they just start to flow out of the love of Christ at once.
7. You didn’t notice I skipped #5.
8. You went back to check.
9. Why is he still writing?
10. I thought he said there were only going to be 5…?
Sorry. So, a bit of bad, overused humor in the end, but the principles in steps 1-5 (er, 6) are still relevant.
You see, when you live by these five steps, you will find happiness. I know it’s weird, but it’s true. Happiness and peace are often a gift from God when He sees you walking according to His guidelines. So the secret of life, I found, isn’t to be happy, but it leads to happiness. It isn’t to “do your best, be your best, look your best” (or however the saying goes), but to love Christ with all your heart (cliche saying, sure, but it’s true) and doing your best, being your best, and looking your best overflow from that through the Fruits of the Spirit.
PS: Han shot first.