We want our life to count for something. We want to know that the effort we invest is going to make a difference. In short, we want our life to have purpose.
I have asserted elsewhere that progress comes from purpose. Advances come when we take specific aim at something. In other words, we don’t drift forward. Forward progress, gains, come from focussed effort.
But where do we learn purpose? Where do we learn what to aim at? As a Christian, my instinctive response is to say that we learn our purpose from the Scriptures. But, more specifically, I would suggest that we learn purpose from tracking with particular individuals who are revealed to us in the Bible. We learn purpose by following in the footsteps of others.
In 1Samuel 25, we are introduced to a man named Nabal. Nabal, quite simply, lived for himself. Nabal’s purpose in life was to please Nabal. I suspect we all know individuals who fit that description. King David lived in Nabal’s day (even though he wasn’t King at that point) and even interacted with some of Nabal’s servants. Further on in the Scriptures, in Acts 13:36, the apostle Paul tells us about David’s aim in life: “when David had served God’s purposes in his generation he died.”
Nabal lived for himself. David lived for something bigger than himself. David lived to fulfill God’s purposes and, in doing so, found satisfaction for his soul.
I don’t want to make it sound cut and dried as if it is one or the other. I see a bit of Nabal in Bryn MacPhail. I sometimes catch myself wanting to serve my own purposes. I wish I could tell you that is a rare thing……in my heart of hearts, however, I long for the description given to David’s life. I want the primary orientation of my life to be God’s purposes. My spirit resonates with the words of Jesus—that we actually gain our life by losing it (Luke 9:24).
If you have tracked David’s life, you already know that he was far from perfect. He was a highly flawed individual. He had serious moral failings. Nevertheless, the general trajectory of David’s life is commendable to us. This is how God describes this trajectory: “I have found David son of Jesse a man after My own heart; he will do everything I want him to.” (Acts 13:22).
It appears then that living for God involves something more than outward conformity. It seems to be the case that following Jesus involves a connecting of hearts. It’s not simply the case that David did what God required, but that David longed to do that which pleased God. Following was not a matter merely of duty for David. No, David was inclined to follow.
How do we get there? How do we better orient our affections toward God? If you’re even asking these questions, that’s a great sign(!), and it is my privilege to declare to you that becoming a person ‘after God’s own heart’ is within your grasp. In a message I delivered last Sunday at St. Giles Kingsway and The Well, I asserted that proximity is the key to altering the inclinations of our heart.
As parents, we sometimes worry about who our children choose as friends. We worry because we recognize that proximity influences. When we spend a lot of time with someone, it has an impact on our behaviour. It can even affect our core values. If you are one who seeks to follow Jesus, this principle translates well for us: Becoming like Christ comes from being with Christ.
Have a listen to the message and be encouraged to serve God’s purposes in your generation!