Cornerstone

Choosing a Lifestyle

“The lifestyle we choose to live demonstrates powerful things to both others and ourselves about whose glory we are living for.”

As I mentioned in the previous post, God cares very deeply about how we use our finances. The reason is because our money and our hearts are intricately connected. Our money demonstrates the allegiances of our hearts, and our hearts are further inclined toward wherever we put our money. This is why God cares deeply about our lifestyle as well. The lifestyle we choose to live demonstrates powerful things to both others and ourselves about whose glory we are living for. Now, you may not think of your lifestyle as a “choice,” but it absolutely is. You may not have an unlimited choice concerning your lifestyle, but you still have a choice. While you can’t just choose to live as rich as you could dream, you can always choose to live below your means. You can choose to live a little below your means, you can choose to live a lot below your means, or (thanks to the ease of credit) you can (at least for a time) choose to live beyond your means. Your lifestyle is a choice.

But, how do you make that choice? How do you know what kind of lifestyle God wants you to live? This can be an incredibly difficult and complicated question for most of us. The messages of the world, our parents, our peers, and advertising are so strong and consistent that it can be difficult to determine whether our lifestyle is for our glory or for God’s. Because of this, we might simply assume that the less we have the more glorifying to God our lifestyle is. This is the assumption that has fueled Christian aesthetics for centuries.

But, the truth is, as we clearly see in Scripture, there is no such thing as one single Christians lifestyle. We see examples throughout the New Testament of disciples of all different socio-economic levels. Some are called to give up everything they have and follow Christ. Some are called to keep what they have and use it generously for the sake of the kingdom of God. If no disciple ever left everything they had, Jesus would never have had intimate disciples like the apostles. If no disciple ever left everything they had, the gospel wouldn’t have spread across the ancient world. But, if every disciple left everything they had there wouldn’t have been anywhere for Jesus or the apostles to stay. If every disciple left everything they had there wouldn’t have been local churches in cities where it cost anything to live.

Some disciples were called to leave everything they had for the sake of the kingdom. Some disciples were called to hang onto some of what they had been entrusted with for the sake of the kingdom. And the same is true today. Some of us will be called to leave everything we have and know for the sake of the gospel. Others of us will be called to temporarily possess what we have and to steward it with generosity and love for the sake of the gospel. Still others of us will be called to give up some of what we have (or could possibly earn) and live lifestyles that are different than what we could have if we worked or lived somewhere else. Again, for the sake of the gospel.

There are disciples who give up what they have for the sake of the gospel. There are disciples who keep and utilize what they have for the sake of the gospel. There are disciples who give up part of what they could have and utilize what they still have both for the sake of the gospel. But, as Randy Alcorn writes, “There is not, however, a…kind of disciple, who does whatever he or she feels like with money and possessions and fails to use them for the kingdom. Such people are common today, but by New Testament standards they are not disciples.”

So, then, how do you know what kind of disciple God is calling you to be? What kind of lifestyle should you choose? There are many different factors that go into answering that question, and God orchestrates each one of our lives in different ways. But, the way to begin answering that question is to simply ask the question, “Whose glory is my lifestyle for?” Think about all the different choices you make. The size of apartment or house you live in, the car you drive, the meals you eat, the entertainment you choose, the clothes you wear, the bills you pay. Whose glory are each of them for?

Paul, in writing to Timothy, gives us a great picture of what it looks like to live for God’s glory. He directs his instructions toward the “rich in this present age” which, if you are reading this on a computer or phone, applies to you.

“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

There are numerous principles regarding our finances that can be gleaned from this passage. But I want to highlight just two as they specifically relate to our lifestyles. First, God “richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” Many Christians can tend to feel an inappropriate guilt for enjoying the good gifts that God provides. But, we can’t miss the fact that God, as a loving father, gives us gifts that we might enjoy them and glorify him through thanksgiving and praise. Everything we’ve been given is designed to inspire worship of God either as we give it away for his glory or enjoy it for his glory. Our problem is not that we enjoy what we’ve been given, but that we enjoy it selfishly, not allowing it to turn our hearts and minds to God.

In addition to enjoying what God has given to us, he also calls us “to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.” When we possess what we’ve been given for God’s glory then we regularly stand just as ready to enjoy what we have as we are ready to give it away. We desire for what we have to result in God’s glory such that we hold it with an open hand, ready for his glory to be met in either our enjoyment or in the enjoyment of someone else. This is what it means to be “generous and ready to share.”

When we live life holding what we have been given with an open hand, we are no longer under the tyranny of our possessions, but free to truly enjoy them. When we readily give much of what we have away, or joyfully sacrifice our standard of living in some way for the sake of the gospel, we begin to take hold of “that which is truly life.” When our lifestyle is determined not by our own self-focused goals and dreams, but by the daily offering of our resources for the sake of God’s kingdom we begin to live life the way it was designed to be lived. When our choices to enjoy what we’ve been given result in the praise and honor and glory of Christ and our choices to give away what we’ve been given result in the praise and honor and glory of Christ, life resonates in perfect pitch as we experience true freedom and joy.

Your lifestyle is a choice. Whose glory is your lifestyle for?

Scott Mehl

Scott serves the church by overseeing leadership, development, global ministries, and counseling/discipleship.

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