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It’s not about right & wrong, but life & death

Think about the things in your life that bring life: encouragement singing poetry flowers friends smiles vacations forgiveness laughter We need more life and less death….
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
Think about the things in your life that bring life:
  • encouragement
  • singing
  • poetry
  • flowers
  • friends
  • smiles
  • vacations
  • forgiveness
  • laughter
We need more life and less death.  Legalism and legalists bring death.  They major on the minors, living in the old covenant of right and wrong when Jesus came to introduce a new covenant focused on life.  Andrew Shearman taught me to say, “It’s not about right & wrong but life & death.”  We need to frame our issues differently. 

The New Testament majors on life, but even in the Old Testament, God made his intentions clear.  He said, “I am offering you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live.” (Deut. 30:19).

Abundant life is there for us, but we must choose it. Every new day that dawns we get to make that choice. In every conversation and relationship, there is an internal dialogue we have with ourselves. When we judge others, for example, we veer away from life.

“Does this bring life or death?” is a much better question to ask than, “Is this right or wrong?”  Many young people seem to get hung up on technicalities, asking in essence, “Can I get away with this?”  The question of life and death is about the big picture.  It’s about things of ultimate importance.

Nouwen says, “Life and death are always before us. In our imaginations, our thoughts, our words, our gestures, our actions… even in our nonactions. This choice for life starts in a deep interior place. Underneath every life-affirming behavior I can still harbor death-thoughts and death-feelings. The most important question is not ‘Do I kill?’ but ‘Do I carry a blessing in my heart or a curse?'”
Do you put a smile in peoples’ hearts when they see you?  Are you a life giver? If you’re not sure, it’s a good day to choose life.

Comments (12)

  • Seth – this was an incredible blessing to read this morning …. something I needed to hear. Thanks so much for sharing 🙂


  • This is a great reminder for me.
    I want to be the person that brings a smile to people’s faces. I want to be a life giver.

  • This reminds me of something I was recently told about recreation. Most Americans (including myself) use their time of recreation to watch TV or sleep. But that doesn’t bring them life. The idea of recreation should be about what re-creates you. What brings you to life and thus draws you near Christ? It is in those things that we should take our time of rest. For me, it’s writing while in the outdoors with great music playing… for a friend it’s studying politics… but whatever it is, once you have embraced the way God restores your energy, you are better able to be that life to others. Well, at least that is what I am trying out… 🙂

  • Seth, thanks for this. Such a helpful way to express it. At least I find when I read my Bible I am in good company with the likes of Paul when I try to do the right thing but find I do the wrong thing so much of the time! Thinking of it in terms of life and death not right and wrong is so much more positive. Makes me feel like I have a choice and something I can give, rather than something I need to avoid. Thanks, lol Cx

  • Heather, Kari, Valentina, Brandon, Carol, Jeff,

    thanks for the props. they keep me writing and put wind in my sails.


  • Excellent way of communicating this concept! Sharing it with my teenagers and posting it on my facebook…sending it to some of the teens/college students I have as “friends” there as well.

  • I remember the first time that I heard Michael Hindes teach this – life and death v. right and wrong. It totally blew my mind and I have never been the same since.

  • Seth,

    It was so good to StumbleUpon this today. You hit the biggest nail right on the head. Jesus speaks the word of life.

    Read 1 John 3 to be encouraged and challenged – as children of God we have all the resources to meet the day. In this sense, the opposite of righteousness isn’t “wrong”, it is sin – the wages of death.

    Thanks again.

  • Huh?

    Advice: Read as many different kind of books that you can. Only The Pope has access to the Vatican archives.

  • I’ve been both a rules keeper and a life giver. I’m trying to be a life giver all the time though. You’re right, we have to choose life…Excellent post!

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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