Five Life Principles Translated from Bible-Speak

I attended a Christian high school and am graduating from a Christian college, and I have found that it is easy to get frozen by theology. Theology is great, and it is absolutely critical that we learn to understand God and how he set up the universe. However, it is dangerous to get so caught up in the seven levels of meaning in Scripture (or the thousands of sermons spoken on a passage) that the practical application can be missed. I've put together some verses that I think have an incredibly possible and simple life application. There are dozens of ways to take and apply these verses. Here are five places to start.

1. "You reap what you sow." (Gal. 6:7)
Basic translation: you get what you give.
For the Christian, this is stronger than Karma, because we believe that God is watching how we act, and that he is able to do something about it. The things you give the universe are the things you get back.

A simple example: I have a digestive disorder that occasionally keeps me from work and leaves me in bed for a day or two. Because I know that I have this, I make sure to cover shifts for coworkers when I can and when I am feeling healthy so that when a flare-up inevitably comes, I can be sure that someone will be glad to cover.

2. Live "above reproach." (1 Tim. 3:2)
Basic translation: make the rumors sound ridiculous.
You can't please everyone, but you can live a life with enough integrity that there is no way for anyone to start a nasty story about you that gains traction. If you lead a life of high caliber, with honesty and humility, people will have a hard time throwing mud with good aim. Technically, this is aimed at leaders especially. However, I've learned that I never know who is looking up to me. It's best to assume that someone admires you and live as though they are following your example. This isn't pride; its a safety measure. You can't see people who are behind you.

A couple of years ago, a significant amount of money was missing from our accounts at my job. Somehow, the balance was totally off at the end of the month, and I was the one who had done most of the daily accounting. The problem was resolved (there was a miscommunication between me, my coworker, and my boss about a deposit versus a cash hold on an instrument). The important thing was that I knew that I had not taken the money, and I am about 99% sure that no one else thought I did either. Integrity is built in daily life, but is only absolutely needed under fire. 

3. "Lead a quiet life and work with your hands." (1 Thess. 4:11-12)
Basic translation: Stay busy and keep your nose in your business.
This is not saying that all Christians should work manual labor jobs. It is saying that you should find an occupation/vocation/something to fill your time and keep you earning money for generous giving. Also, don't cause drama. Don't keep the gossip spreading. Stay out of pointless political debates.

I have a big long list of books to read this summer; most of them are books that I should be familiar with by the time I pursue further education. I am going to continue working with my mind (because that is where my strength lies) and I am going to continue working with my hands, writing as much as I can so I can become excellent at what I do.

4. "Cut your hand off." (Matt. 5:30)
Basic translation: If something in your life makes you sin, get it out completely.
If you are an alcoholic, don't try to learn how to drink responsibly - stop drinking. If you are addicted to pornography, invest in a manual alarm clock and leave all your devices in another room.

I get snarky fast, and so there are certain TV shows I cannot watch. They make me act meaner than I want to because they encourage pride and feelings of superiority. If something is keeping you from being more like Christ, get it out of your life.

5. "Leave your gift in front of the altar and go and be reconciled." (Matt. 5:23-24)
Basic translation: You can't properly worship God while ignoring problems in your interpersonal life.
Jesus is talking about asking for forgiveness, not dramatically going around forgiving other people like some kind of holier-than-thou Pharisee. You can love your enemies by yourself. However, if you realize that someone is holding a grudge against you, or that you have hurt someone, you have the responsibility to go ask them for their forgiveness and do your very best to mend the relationship. Your worship and supplication won't matter until you swallow your pride and deal with the marks against you. If someone chooses to not be reconciled to you, that simply tells you how to pray for them. Reconcile yourself - bring back together that which was broken.

I am not excellent at this, but my mother is. Through my entire childhood, my mom would ask me if there was anything she needed forgiveness for. She asked me that every night. Most nights, there wasn't anything. However, I know that our relationship is infinitely stronger because when I needed to reconcile, I knew that I could.