So to live a good and faithful life that is directed by Jesus means you:
Dwell on God.
Perhaps the most important thing you and I can do to make sure we are pleasing to God is to focus on Him, learn about Him, and know Him. We think about who Jesus is and how He loves us. We abide in His presence and keep Him in front of us as our goal. We recall His victories—always remembering that His promises are more real than our circumstances may appear.
Why? Because we become what we are focused on. And God’s ultimate plan for us is “to become conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29). He molds us into His character so we can better reflect who He is.
This is when we discover that there are ways in which we function that are inconsistent with who He is, and which are actually harmful to us. The Bible calls this sin. By studying Jesus’ loving, life-giving ways, we realize there is a much better way to exist: a way that fills us with power, wisdom, love, joy, peace, and patience, and builds kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in us. So we can confess that we’ve done wrong and repent, changing our path to conform to His, because we see His ways are so much more rewarding and superior to ours (1 Peter 4:1–2). We are inspired to be better and obey Him because of how awesome He is (Ps. 37:4).
Do whatever God calls you to do with all of your heart.
As you dwell on God, you become more like Him and take on His purposes. This is when He will call you to walk in His ways. The Lord most likely has an important assignment for you right where you are. If He doesn’t, He will move you. However, we sometimes miss the essential things He wants to do through us because we are distracted by interpersonal conflicts, our ambitions, or perceived problems and injustices.
But Colossians 3:23-24 teaches, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance.” You are Christ’s servant, so do your best no matter what you’re called to do, whom you are given to work with, or how much you are paid. The Lord may give you a difficult task, but when you stay the course, God will do awesome things through you that you cannot begin to imagine.
Also, remember that when you are living for the Lord, “God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). The Father faithfully takes care of your needs when you are obeying Him—even better than you ever could.
So regularly seek God and search your heart, asking: Am I doing what the Lord wants me to do, the way He wants me to do it? Am I accomplishing the assignments He has for me, or am I concerned with what has no eternal value?
Give yourself away for others.
Sadly, for many, being busy with “God’s work” has become a reason to ignore the people that God gave us to love. We live in a world where it is easy to become self-focused and engrossed with our difficulties. Instead of being vigilant about how we can shine Christ’s light to others, we make excuses, saying our challenges are too great, our burdens too heavy, and our responsibilities too important.
But in John 15:13, Jesus tells us, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” If we really love Him, we will love others sacrificially as He did. If we want to please Him, we will follow His example, deliberately ministering to souls rather than merely accomplishing tasks (John 13:13-17).
We see an excellent illustration of this in the life of the apostle Paul. When Paul knew that his execution was near, he wrote to his young apprentice Timothy to encourage him. Paul knew that as a young pastor in Ephesus, Timothy would face many difficulties. So instead of complaining about being in prison or being consumed by some great doctrinal deliberation, Paul made the most of his final opportunity to share his knowledge and love with Timothy by ministering to his son in the faith.
Likewise, we weren’t saved to live only for ourselves—we were created to serve God and to give ourselves away to others. Because when we do, we are most like Jesus (1 John 4:10-16). And it is in becoming like Him, doing what He formed us to accomplish, and investing in others that we find real joy and contentment.
The Best Investment You please Jesus and allow Him to direct your life by dwelling on God, doing what He calls you to do with all your heart, and giving yourself away to others. That is how you make sure you are living a good and faithful life.
That may seem counterintuitive to you. With the pleasures this world offers and the dreams you have for your own life, it may even seem like too great a sacrifice for anyone to make. Indeed, it means giving up control, dying to yourself and your desires, and submitting to His. But I can assure you that there is absolutely no better way to invest your energy because there is true life only in Christ.