Sermon quotes on life

David Brooks

The key to a well-lived life is to have trained the emotions to send the right signals and to be sensitive to their subtle calls.

William Barclay

There are two great days in a person’s life … the day we are born and the day we discover why.

Annie Dillard 

We don’t know what’s going on here. If these tremendous events are random combinations of matter run amok, the yield of millions of monkeys at millions of typewriters, then what is it in us, hammered out of those same typewriters, that they ignite? We don’t know. Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery, like the idle, curved tunnels of leaf miners on the face of a leaf. We must somehow take a wider view, look at the whole landscape, really see it, and describe what’s going on here. Then we can at least wail the right question into the swaddling band of darkness, or, if it comes to that, choir the proper praise. 

Henry Drummond

Is life not full of opportunities for learning love? Every man and woman every day has a thousand of them. The world is not a playground; it is a schoolroom. Life is not a holiday, but an education. And the one eternal lesson for us all is how better we can love.

Harry Emerson Fosdick

Life asks not merely what you can do; it asks how much can you endure and not be spoiled.

Martin Luther

Should anyone knock at my heart and say, “Who Lives here? I should reply, “Not Martin Luther, but the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Donald Miller

Fear is a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life.

Eugene Peterson

The only opportunity you will ever have to live by faith is in the circumstances you are provided this very day: this house you live in, this family you find yourself in, this job you have been given, the weather conditions that prevail at the …moment.


George Bernard Shaw

I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch, which I have got hold of for the moment; and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

 George Bernard Shaw, His Life and Works

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

The meaning of earthly existence lies not, as we have grown used to thinking, in prospering…but in the development of the soul.

Henry David Thoreau

The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.



Dallas Willard

Societies the world around are currently in desperate straits trying to produce people who are merely capable of coping with their life on earth in a nondestructive manner.

Renovation of the Heart: Putting On the Character of Christ


Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi 

The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.

Henry Fairlie 

If we acknowledge that our inclination to sin is part of our natures, and that we will never wholly eradicate it, there is at least something for us to do in our lives that will not in the end seem just futile and absurd.

The Seven Deadly Sins Today

Reinhold Niebuhr

Nothing worth doing can be accomplished in a lifetime.

The Onion

Nothing is more precious than teeming, overabundant resource-destroying human life. (For humor/contrast)


Eugene Peterson

The life of faith isn’t meant for tourists. It’s meant for pilgrims. 

Thomas Sowell

Life does not ask what we want. It presents us with options.

Eugene Peterson

The ways Jesus goes about loving and saving the world are personal: nothing disembodied, nothing abstract, nothing impersonal. Incarnate, flesh and blood, relational, particular and local. The ways employed in our North American culture are conspicuously impersonal: programs, organizations, techniques, and general guidelines, informational, detached from place. In matters of ways and means, the vocabulary of numbers is preferred over names, ideologies crowd out ideas, the gray fog of abstraction absorbs the sharp particularities of the recognizable face and the familiar street.

The Jesus Way

Jeff Vanderstelt

If we are to be disciples of Jesus who are being reformed and restored to become more like him, we need to have people in our lives, up close and personal.

Peter O’Brien 

How then can we pursue what are already God’s gifts to us? The proper response is that they should be worked out concretely in our lives as believers

The Letter to the Hebrews, Eerdmans

A.W. Tozer

A man by his sin may waste himself, which is to waste that which on earth is most like God. This is man’s greatest tragedy and God’s heaviest grief.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.

Quoted in Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way A Daring Path into the Abundant Life, Zondervan.

Parker J. Palmer

But if I am to let my life speak things I want to hear, things I would gladly tell others, I must also let it speak things I do not want to hear and would never tell anyone else! My life is not only about my strengths and virtues; it is also about my liabilities and my limits, my trespasses and my shadow. An inevitable though often ignored dimension of the quest for ‘wholeness’ is that we must embrace what we dislike or find shameful about ourselves as well as what we are confident and proud of.

Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation

Samuel Johnson

It must be remembered that life consists not of a series of illustrious actions, or elegant enjoyments; the greater part of our time passes in compliance with necessities, in the performance of daily duties, in the removal of small inconveniences, in the procurement of petty pleasures.

John Keating (Played by Robin Williams)

“That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”

Dead Poets Society

Brennan Manning

The noonday devil of the Christian life is the temptation to lose the inner self while preserving the shell of edifying behavior.

The Ragamuffin Gospel

Matthew McCullough

Before you long for a life that is imperishable, you must accept that you are perishing along with everyone you care about. You must recognize that anything you might accomplish or acquire in this world is already fading away. Only then will you crave the unfading glory of what Jesus has accomplished and acquired for you. And you need to recognize you are going to lose everything you love in this world before you will hope in an inheritance kept in heaven for you. 

Remember Death: The Surprising Path to Living Hope

Ernest Becker

Why does man accept to live a trivial life? Because of the danger of a full horizon of experience, of course.

The Denial of Death, Free Press.

Thomas Kelly 

For over the margins of life comes a whisper, a faint call, a premonition of richer living. . . .

A Testament of Devotion, Harper

Gillian Marchenko

But after disability showed up in our family, we learned that life is not tame. It’s not here to align with our desires and plans. No one is immune to things that tend to happen to “other people.” We all are “other people.” 

Still Life: A Memoir of Living Fully with Depression, InterVarsity Press.

Dallas Willard

The normal course of day-to-day human interactions locks us into patterns of feeling, thought, and action that are geared to a world set against God. Nothing but solitude can allow the development of a freedom from the ingrained behaviors that hinder our integration into God’s order.

The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives, HarperSanFrancisco.

Brad Gregory

Human life in the western world today… is characterized by an enormously wide range of incompatible truth claims pertaining to human values, aspirations, norms, morality, and meaning— A hyperpluralism of religious and secular commitments, not any shared or even convergent views about what “we” think is true or right or good, marks the early twenty-first century.

The Unintended Reformation, Belknap Press.

Erin M. Straza

Lifeless life is the very thing Jesus came to rescue us from.

Comfort Detox: Finding Freedom From Habits That Bind You, InterVarsity Press.

Nancy Ortberg

One of my favorite comments from Dallas Willard reminds us that God works exclusively in reality: “God has yet to bless anyone except where they actually are, and if we faithlessly discard situation after situation, moment after moment, as not being ‘right,’ we will simply have no place to receive his kingdom into our life.

Seeing in the Dark: Finding God’s Light in the Most Unexpected Places, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Eugene Peterson

I want to provide fresh documentation that the only way that any one of us can live at our best is in a life of radical faith in God.

Taken from Run with the Horses by Eugene H. Peterson. ©2009, 2019 by Eugene H. Peterson.  Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove  IL  60515-1426.

Frederich Buechner

“What’s lost is nothing to what’s found, and all the death that ever was, set next to life, would scarcely fill a cup.”

Godric: A Novel

Donald Gray

Jesus reveals in an exceptionally human life what it is to live a divine life, a compassionate life.

Jesus: The Way to Freedom, St. Mary’s College Press, 1979,  70.

Thomas Howard and J I. Packer

Cross-bearing is the long lesson of our mortal life. It is a part of God’s salvation, called sanctification. It is a lesson set before us every moment of every day.” “If life were an art lesson…we could describe it as a process of finding how to turn this mud into that porcelain, this discord into that sonata, this ugly stone block into that statue, this tangle of threads into that tapestry. In fact, however, the stakes are higher than in any art lesson. It is in the school of sainthood that we find ourselves enrolled and the artifact that is being made is ourselves.

Christianity: The True Humanism (Vancouver, BC: Regent College Publishing, 1985), 153.

Martin Luther

All His is mine and all mine—my sins, my death, my damnation—is His.

 Treatise on Christian Liberty

Seth Godin

Instead of wondering what your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.

Simon Chan

What kind of life does the Christian story give rise to? This question is important, since the answer to it determines the shape of our spirituality.

William Shakespeare

Life’s but a walking shadow; a poor player. That struts and frets his hour upon the stage. And then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Macbeth Act V, Scene V

Maurice Sendak

I wish you all good things. Live your life, live your life, live your life.

Anne Lamott

My deepest belief is that living as if you are dying sets us free. —

Charlotte Brontë

Life is so constructed that the event does not, cannot, will not match the expectation.

Villette, 1853

Alfred North Whitehead

We think in generalities, but we live in detail.

Modes of Thought

Frederick Buechner

Listen to your life. All moments are key moments.

John R. W. Stott

[cf. Rom 8:13: “For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”

Here is a verse that draws a clear contrast between life and death.  It affirms that there is a kind of life which actually leads to death, and there is also a kind of death which actually leads to life.

Taken from The Radical Disciple: Some Neglected Aspects of Our Calling by John R. W. Stott Copyright (c) 2010 by John R. W. Stott. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL.

William Irvine

There is a danger that you will mislive—that despite all your activity, despite all the pleasant diversions you might have enjoyed while alive, you will end up living a bad life. There is, in other words, a danger that when you are on your deathbed, you will look back and realize that you wasted your one chance at living. Instead of spending your life pursuing something genuinely valuable, you squandered it because you allowed yourself to be distracted by the various baubles life has to offer.

A Guide to the Good Life

Hélène Cixous

If we could see. If we could read the Letter. If, seated on high, amidst the authors of our destinies. we could read the book of our life. Which is written. Already written, finished. But we shall never know our story. We are only characters in it. And to think that there will be readers of our book.

Mary Oliver

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

The Summer Day

Matthew Henry

It ought to be the business of every day to prepare for our last day.

John Tillotson

He who provides for this life but takes not care for eternity is wise for a moment but a fool forever.

Ted Loder

I am so thankful to be alive—breathing, moving, sensing, wide-eyed, cock-eared alive—in this mysterious instant, at this luminous time, on this nurturing earth, this blue pearl of great price whirling through uncharted space, attended by vigilant stars. . . . I am . . . eager to miss no message of grace in the ballet of beauty or in the cramp of struggle of this incredible gift of life.

Guerillas of Grace

Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick)

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, 1986.

Still Looking for inspiration?

Consider checking out our illustrations page on Life. 

Follow us on social media: