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ON PURPOSE: Wrestling with Scripture #25

Years ago, an older co-worker occasionally asked me to explain the meaning of life. At the time, I didn’t have a particularly good answer and usually responded with a platitude or joke. It’s only recently that his question has begun rattling around inside my head as well. While fatalists claim life has no meaning, idealists often seek it by trying to leave the world a better place or by spreading kindness and love. Psychologists say we’re all hungry for meaning because we instinctively know life has intrinsic value, and we want our time on earth to matter. If we accept that we’re alive for a reason, it’s only logical to wonder what that purpose is and if we’ve managed to accomplish it.


Solomon, called the wisest man who ever lived, wrote Ecclesiastes about the futility of a life lived only for this world. In his opinion, the fatalists are right because, apart from God, this temporary life has no real significance. Only the things of God will last. That’s why, no matter how devoted we are to family and friends, to community service, or to charitable causes, even our most worthwhile pursuits will lack an essential element unless they include the Lord.


That’s probably why Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life became a huge bestseller some years ago by tapping into our innate need to do something meaningful for God. Although I don’t necessarily recommend Warren’s book, his list of five Biblical reasons for our existence—worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and mission—might be helpful as we wrestle with the question of purpose.


Although it’s not always easy to discern God’s plan for our lives, Genesis provides some excellent clues, teaching that we were created to be social, to do work, to fellowship with Him, and to be good stewards. As we seek to identify and live out our God-given purpose, it’s probable that we’ll find it including most of these activities.  


So, what is the meaning of life according to Scripture? Isaiah 43:7 says that God created us for His glory and 1 Corinthians 10:31 adds: “… whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” If glorifying Him is to be our chief goal, it’s crucial to wrestle with exactly what that means and to consider some practical ways to fulfill this God-directed purpose.


Glorifying God means that we give Him the weight, importance, or honor He is due. The most obvious way to glorify God is through praise and worship in fellowship with other believers. Isaiah 42:8 says, “I am the LORD, that is my name, my glory I give to no other.” To praise and worship in a way that gives glory to God requires that we put Him first in all things. We honor God by ridding our lives of idols—including ourselves—since an idol can be anything or anyone we place above God or that we allow to steal our time, attention, or love from Him.


Another way to honor God is to make much of His name. Right before His arrest, Jesus prayed “Glorify Your Son, so that the Son may glorify You” (John 17:1). Our devotion to Jesus honors God. By proclaiming Jesus, the name above all names, we glorify God, but to do this, we must know and believe all the Bible says about Christ. Therefore, making much of God requires us to read and study His Word in order to grow and develop sound doctrine. A mature faith better equips us to follow Jesus’ instructions to “go and make disciples …” (Matt 28:19), doing all we can to add the weight and glory of new believers to God’s kingdom.  


We also glorify God by living a life pleasing to Him. Ephesians 5:10 urges us, “And try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” Thankfully, the Bible is full of guidelines for right living. “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord” (Col 3:20). Micah 6:8 says “… to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God,” while Hebrews 13:16 urges “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”


Christianity is not a spectator sport. Every day offers numerous opportunities for us to honor God by the way we love and serve others. Ephesians 2:10 explains this duty. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works …” and Jesus tell us “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit” (John 15:8). We can do this when we “… look after orphans and widows” (James 1:27), “Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble …” (Isa 58:10),and give comfort to “… those who are in any trouble” (2 Cor 1:4). If we need more motivation, Jesus tells us when we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, or visit the prisoners, we are doing it for Him (Matt 25:35-40).


We can also glorify God with our prayer life. Although we know God hears our prayers, we often don’t see the results we’re hoping for. Although that can mean God’s answer is no, it can also mean that the time isn’t right. The Bible is full of Godly men who prayed for things they never saw happen in their lifetimes. Our prayers don’t end with our deaths. They’ve risen as a fragrant aroma and remain in the presence of an infinite God, waiting for His perfect timing. Take heart. Our prayers for a child, grandchild, or unsaved friend might well bear fruit years after we’re gone. Please consider that the prayer you offer today can have an impact for all eternity.


In conclusion, Solomon summed up his search for meaning, saying, “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecc 12:13). Obedience isn’t adherence to a set of rules but a lifestyle of following and delighting in God’s Law. He commands us to love Him and one another. He tells us to share the Gospel and make disciples. He tells us to meditate, to pray, and to serve. Our purpose for being is simply to obey and glorify His holy name.


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1 Comment

Pamela Pfankuch
Pamela Pfankuch
Mar 18

Wow! This is awesome Laurie! I pray many others read this. Keep posting & I'll keep reading and praying for all to come to know Jesus, our risen Savior!

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