"What's your life verse?" That has always been a bit of a hard question for me to answer. How do you choose a single verse from the Bible to serve as a "life verse" when there are so many rich and life-changing passages from which to choose?
When I was in college I had a good friend who told me, tongue-in-cheek, that her life verse was 1 Chronicles 26:18. She asked me if I knew that verse and I said that I did not. She then proceeded to quote it very quickly from the King James Version: “At Parbar westward, four at the causeway, and two at Parbar.”
To me it all sounded like absolute gibberish, which is just the effect that she was going for. I looked it up later and have never forgotten it because of its seemingly random wording when taken out of its broader context. It just goes to show that some Bible verses make better life verses than others.
I suppose that if there is a verse that I would claim as my "life verse" it would have to be 2 Corinthians 5:15. It is a verse that many years ago seemed to rise up off the page and stand out from the others around it. It seemed to be commanding my attention.
“...and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf." (2 Corinthians 5:15)
One of the reasons I love this verse so much is that it both encapsulates the essence of the gospel while at the same time communicating the implications of the gospel.
The Apostle Paul states that Jesus "died for all." This is the language of substitution. Jesus died in the place of others. The substitutionary atonement lies at the very heart of the gospel itself. It is the essence of the gospel. Jesus, the sinless Son of God, died in my place on the cross. It was my sin that deserved God's just judgment. It was I who deserved to die. Jesus died instead, in my place, on my behalf. In dying for me, Jesus satisfied God's holy wrath and opened up to me the way of forgiveness through faith in Him.
But Paul doesn't stop there. He then shares one of the reasons for the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus. Jesus died for all so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. Jesus died for me so that I might no longer live for myself but that I might live for Him. Here we see the implications of the gospel.
Jesus died for me that I might live for Him. I am no longer to live for myself. In spiritual union with Jesus on the cross, my life of selfish independence died and in union with Jesus' resurrection, I was, by faith, made spiritually alive in order that I might live for Him.
I love this verse because it calls me back, again and again, to the basics of the gospel. Jesus died for me that I might live, and live not for myself but for Him who died for me. I am tempted each day to live for myself, to pursue my own goals and desires, to please myself. But the cross reminds me that I am not my own. It reminds me that I have been bought with a price. I have been given life that I might live for the One who gave me life.
I chose this verse many years ago as my "life verse" because I knew I needed to be constantly reminded of the realities it teaches. I still need to be reminded of both the essence and the implications of the gospel. I have chosen it because I need to be regularly called to both rest in the essence of the gospel and to continually work out the implications of the gospel.
I don't want to live for myself. I want to live for Him who died for me and who rose again on my behalf.
Lord Jesus, make it so.