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Tell Me How to Live

CAN YOU IMAGINE someone going around telling other people how to live? I know of someone who went around telling people, for example, how to manage their sexual passions. He even said to some people (and I’m quoting), “Don’t be busybodies or gossips but mind your own business and apply yourselves to your jobs”. This guy’s name (in case you want to avoid him) is Paul. In a letter to some Christ followers Paul states, “…we instructed you how to live” (1 Thessalonians 4:1). “This is how you should live,” he says, and then speaks directly to the very personal behaviours I’ve just listed.

Paul waxes even bolder because he goes on to say, “…we instructed you how to live in order to please God”. “It is possible to please God,” he claims, “but not everyone does. We, however, know what pleases God and we told you how to do that.” If you do what we say, Paul is claiming, you will warm the heart of God. God will say, “That’s a person that gives me pleasure”. And in Bible parlance that certainly means that we can avoid being disciplined in some ways and will receive blessings we would not otherwise get.

So wouldn’t it be great if someone could tell us how to live so that we pleased God? Wouldn’t it be helpful if they took an inventory of our lives and then told us specifically what we should do and how to do it? Paul, and most of the other New Testament writers, claimed to be apostles, sent by Jesus Christ with ability and authority to speak on his behalf. Their letters tell us specifically how to live. If it is all true shouldn’t we want to come to their writings and shouldn’t we plead, “Tell me how to live”?

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