What Is the Good Life?
“What is the good life?” As a Christian it’s a great question to ask; my first thought is, “I’m not sure, but I definitely want to live the good life!” Our culture certainly has some clear ideas about what constitutes the “good life” - lots of money, no boundaries or restrictions, and the ability for everyone to “just be themselves” and find their own truth - and yet we are as a nation becoming increasingly unhappy, with skyrocketing rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide. So where does that leave us as believers? What’s the key to unlocking the good life as seen through the eyes of Jesus?
Writer and author Randy Alcorn just released a new book titled “Giving is the Good Life,” and he recently wrote a blog entry summarizing the book’s contents called “What Is the Good Life?” Most ideas about finding the good life center around achieving personal happiness (who doesn’t want to be happy?), but as followers of Jesus we know it can’t stop there, or even be primarily focused there. Randy Alcorn asks us all these questions:
What if we really can live the good life without being selfish? What if God not only wants us to live life more abundantly, as Jesus put it (John 10:10), but also provides clear instructions for how to actually experience it? What if it’s possible to discover what to embrace and what to avoid so we can live a meaningful and fulfilling life—the good life—even in this broken world?
Does that sound too good to be true?
Actually, it’s both “too good” and true.
So what is it then? What does Randy Alcorn believe the Bible says leads to having the “good life” now and in eternity? It starts with a relationship with Jesus, and from that relationship comes a changed heart, focusing on others instead of ourselves. Alcorn writes:
Throughout His ministry, Jesus repeatedly turned our definition of the good life on its head. For instance, He said, “There is more happiness in giving than in receiving” (Acts 20:35, GNT).
Jesus told us that parting with money to help others will bring us more joy than hanging on to that money. Counterintuitive as it may seem, our greatest good, and the happiness that accompanies it, is found in giving, not receiving.
In other words, generosity is the good life.
Counterintuitive? Absolutely - most of us have grown up in a world screaming at us more is better and we’re #1, but if Christ reigns in us deep down we know those ideas to be lies. Alcorn speaks truth when he writes:
Deep down, we all know it’s true: you can spend every last cent you own on yourself—and, through credit, far more—and still end up miserable. In fact, if you want to be miserable, greed and stinginess are the perfect recipe. Those who hoard their money, like those who spend it all on themselves, are the unhappiest people on the planet. Jesus calls us to do something radical: love others by giving away our money and time. That sounds like loss, not gain. Yet in God’s economy, that’s exactly how we can expand and enhance our own lives.
It’s an excellent blog post, and the book sounds great too. Do you want to live the good life? Ask God to help you see beyond the reflection in the mirror; ask him to help you bless others with a heart of generosity. THAT is the good life!