These next few weeks on the blog will be a series about passionately pursuing our purpose. This week I’ll be kicking off the series talking a bit about the importance of being well-rooted in the Word and in relationship with God. I pray this series is a blessing to you as it’s been to me!
What do you think about when you hear that word? For a long time I thought purpose was a destination of sorts, or a title. It was something ahead of me that I was meant to do. Like…be a teacher, an artist, an engineer, a doctor, a preacher, a parent, an officer. By that definition it was essentially a singular thing; a role to be played. But when we take an in-depth look at the word or the idea of “purpose” it becomes more and more obvious that our purpose or our calling isn’t a title or some singular thing, but in fact it’s a way to live. I believe there is an overarching purpose to be pursued in our lives to love God and love our neighbor with all that it entails on the day-to-day basis: loving well, serving well, stewarding our lives well, being generous, etc. I also believe there are individual purposes that God has called us to specifically, whether long-term or short-term, they were designed specifically for us to do.
Every aspect of our lives is dripping in God-purpose. Psalms 37:23 says, The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way (ESV). The NLT version puts it this way: The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. God orders our steps and cares about every, little detail. If that’s the case, whether I’m temping as a receptionist for the summer or starting my own company, there is purpose to be found and walked out where I am. We can live out our life’s purpose in every season, every situation and any role we find ourselves playing, whether permanent or temporary because our purpose isn’t just a title, its a life-style.
We’re called, gifted and anointed to do certain things specifically, but ultimately our purpose is an all-encompassing calling to live reflective of the heart of God in whatever sphere of life he sets us in, in whatever season we’re in and in the things he’s particularly graced us to do.
Paul, in his letters to the early church, touches a lot on God-defined purpose:
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Philippians 3:12
Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:6-8
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. Hebrews 12: 1
From these verses we can conclude:
- We all have God-given purpose—the reasons for which he’s laid hold of us. Philippians 3:12
- We all have gifts/talents/strengths that God has given us to be used for his glory. Romans 12:6-8 We have been created and graced for these particular things. Ephesians 2:10 & 2 Corinthians 9:8
- We should all diligently and persistently occupy our God-given, Kingdom-purposed domains (the race that he’s set before us). Hebrews 12:1
Knowing this, we should then occupy our domains with:
- conviction: a fixed or firm belief
- zeal: fervor for a person, cause, or object; enthusiastic diligence; ardor
- confidence: full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing
which are rooted in having a revelation of who Christ is, in his unchanging truth and knowing that he has called us all to this.
One key to being steady in our pursuit of living a purpose-filled life is to have an understanding of the “why behind the what,” in other words, having an authentic relationship with God. To live our God-purposed lives, we need to be rooted in God.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5
There’s a story in the New Testament about some of the happenings in the early church. Acts 5:1-10 tells us that many were being saved and were getting a revelation of the heart of God. Because of that, they were selling their land, property, etc. and pooling together their profit to make sure that everyone was taken care of; they made sure the poor were fed and clothed and that the widows and orphans had what they needed. A husband and wife duo named Ananias and Sapphira, seeing this, were inspired to join in to be a part of this movement. They didn’t really get it, but they wanted to be in. In order to do so, they sold their land, but unlike the others, they decided that they would keep a bit of the profit for themselves and deceive the leaders about it. When they presented the money to those in charge and said that it was the entirety (rather than just a portion) of their profit, they were both stricken down.
The problem here isn’t that they only gave in part–Peter specifically says that they were well in their right to give only what they wanted–their problem stemmed from this: they were inspired by the people’s revelation without actually getting the revelation for themselves. They had no roots. Ananias and Sapphira wanted to give the appearance of something on the outside that hadn’t happened on the inside. They would’ve crushed it on Instagram! Ha!
One of the lessons we can learn from Ananias and Sapphiras’s mistakes is the importance of being rooted in revelation, not just inspiration, because revelation will take you much further than inspiration ever could. Many things can kill inspiration, but nothing can kill revelation. Discouragement, disappointment, hurt, set-backs, rejection…all these things can kill inspiration and send us on a different path (think of all those failed new year’s resolutions). But revelation, when we truly are rooted in the truth of God, keeps us getting up after we stumble, it keeps us coming back after we’re disappointed. We live purpose-driven lives when we are rooted in revelation of the heart of God because our hope is anchored in him.
Revelation comes from being planted in the Word. It comes through getting to know who God is for ourselves, authentically. We have open access to him through the Bible, prayer, worship and through our Church communities. When we have a revelation of who God is and of who we are in him, we find that we don’t have to pretend to be anything, looking for opportunities to “play the part”, instead we are able to do so much more than we thought we could, living out our actual purpose in every day of our lives. If we know who he is and who we are in him, no matter where we are in life, no matter the circumstance or the title we hold, we can live a life full of purpose, just like he intends.
“Everyone will be forgotten, nothing we do will make any difference, and all good endeavors, even the best, will come to naught. Unless there is God. If the God of the Bible exists, and there is a True Reality beneath and behind this one, and this life is not the only life, then every good endeavor, even the simplest ones, pursued in response to God’s calling, can matter forever.” -Tim Keller