I Want the Good Life
I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. Titus 3:8
I once felt that pursuing my own appetite was the path to the fun life. I understood that my way was often contrary to God’s way, and I felt that living his way meant surrendering my shot at the good life. I thought that following me was exciting and pleasurable and that following God was dreary and boring. So, I followed my way. I pursued immediate gratification. It certainly provided some pleasure for a time, but it left me empty and there was always a price to pay later. Following my impulsive appetite led to addiction, enslaving me. The fun life turned into the miserable life. By the time I realized I wanted out, it was too late. I was already trapped in an existence that I hated.
In recovery now, I’ve had to learn a different way of living. I don’t do it perfectly, but I do make a genuine effort daily to abandon my way to pursue God’s way. In doing so, I’ve not found that his life is dreary and boring. Rather, I’ve found the good life. I once thought satisfaction was achieved in stuffing my appetite with whatever it wanted, but now I’ve found life, joy, peace, and meaning in simply living how God made me to live.
In today’s passage, Paul commanded Titus to teach other Christians to devote themselves to doing good works. In doing so, he said, they would profit themselves. I’ve certainly found this to be true. I may find it more immediately pleasurable to sleep in every morning, but if I discipline myself to get up early to read, pray, and meditate, my mental health benefits all day. I may find it more gratifying for a few minutes to eat donuts right now, but if I abstain and go work out, my body feels better for hours. I may find it easier to do nothing, but if I go participate in a jail Bible study, my spirit is filled by God as I enjoy the profound peace that comes only from doing his will.
It may seem a little self-serving – to do good works for our own benefit – but it’s not wrong to want the good life. Our problem is in how we seek that good life. If we seek it in our own appetite, we’ll never be satisfied. If, however, we seek the good life in doing that which is right and good, we’ll find the profound joy and peace for which we were made.