Have you ever been told to “get a life”?
While this term seems to have been dropping off in popularity1, I was pondering it. What do people usually mean when they say “get a life”?
In my experience, the recipient of this statement is usually being offensive, intrusive, or otherwise demonstrating that he would be a better contribution to society if he diversified his interests and found something else to do. After all, why engage in conversation when you can waste time watching YouTube? (Well, maybe we could do better than that.)
While delivering a message one Sunday morning about living out our faith, the minister shared a passage that included the following verse:
In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
1 Timothy 6:19 NIV
Let’s imagine that we – at some point in our lives – have been a little annoying or a little boring, and someone has said to us (whether out loud or just mentally), “Get a life!”.
After all, I suspect that I’ve been a pest in the past – and maybe even in the present – dwelling on the mundane, or intruding more on others’ lives rather than experiencing my own. In those cases, I agree – I probably need to “get a life”.
However, if we followed that advice as it is normally meant, we’d probably go out and pick up a few hobbies. Maybe we’d make some new friends and learn some new interests. Maybe we’d even go and do great things for others with our lives. Whatever we did, our initial detractor would probably just be happy if we just went somewhere else.
However, it occurs to me that this isn’t necessarily a “life”. We might be busy, or interesting, or even well-known. But, without some purpose or a larger plan, that’s just activity. Being busy for the sole purpose of not annoying others – while potentially appreciated by those around us – is not really living as we were intended.
Backing up one verse, let’s take a look at what was going to bring people to this state – where they could find “actual life”:
Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.
1 Timothy 6:18 NIV
By practicing good, and being generous, we find the path to real life. This is the actual path to living a live with impact and meaning. Still, it’s just a good idea unless there are some tangible ways that we can live it out. For that, consider the following examples:
I’m sometimes guilty of stockpiling conveniences for myself. For a while, I would keep a reserve pair of shoes for each occasion (extra tan and black variants of one style for work, and a pair of sneakers in my favorite brand), so that I’d be ready to swap them out when the previous ones wore out. (Now, not all of my preferred styles are still available, so it’s more of an adventure when I need new footwear.) I’m sure that there are lots of other things in my house that I don’t need (just ask my wife!). These are things that I could either share with others, or not buy more of and use the money to help someone else. From time to time, taking a good physical inventory (or moving to a new house) is a healthy reminder of the extra that we have, as well as what we could share with others.
Another great cure for both keeping our blessings to ourselves, as well as avoiding doing good for others, is to recognize God’s role in everything we do. When we remember that all of our abilities, opportunities, and resources are from God in the first place, it makes more sense to invest them according to His will, and to share with others that He loves (i.e., all people). If we realize that we’re fellow recipients of shared blessings, like the kid who is charged with taking home a plate of cookies to share with his entire family, we realize that we can enjoy God’s gifts as part of a community (and not just eat the cookies on the way home, resulting in the requisite stomach-ache).
Finally, if we want to find “actual reality” (not the virtual kind), and “the life that is truly life”, what better place to look than the Author of life itself? Jesus identified Himself as the Life, and then backed it up with proof from his own walk on this earth:
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
John 14:6 NIV
I – and countless other Christians – can testify that following Jesus allows for life to be lived at a whole new level of purpose, satisfaction, understanding, and excitement. I’m not talking here about “religion” or following a bunch of rules, but rather getting to know Jesus (both His time here on earth, and His involvement in our lives today) and walking on the path that He sets before us. There’s a connection where the events that happen are part of a greater and grander story. Events on earth impact – and reflect – events happening in the spiritual world. There is a reason to get out of bed in the morning (as difficult as that is, some days). Tomorrow always has something new to offer, by the Creator with infinite creativity.
So, if the life you’re living seems a little bland today – if it feels like you’re just dieseling in place without having an impact – consider these words of advice: Do good, be generous, and talk with Jesus – the ultimate source of life – about a new direction today.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- I realize that search terms are not necessarily directly correlated to popularity, but this chart does seem to support my claim: https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&q=%22get%20a%20life%22 ↩