THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE
LIFE FROM GOD’S VIEWPOINT
How do you see your life? The Bible offers us three metaphors that teach us God’s view of life. Life is a test, life is a trust and life is a temporary assignment. These ideas are the foundation of a purpose driven live. Let us look at each one in more detail.
Life on earth is a Test. God throughout the bible continually tests people’s character, faith, obedience, love, integrity and loyalty. Words like trials, temptations, refining and testing occur more than 200 times in Scripture. Adam and Eve failed their test in the Garden of Eden, and David failed God several times. God tested Abraham by asking him to offer up his son Isaac.
God tested Jacob when he had to work extra to earn Rachel as his wife. And there are many who passed the tests well such as Joseph, Ruth, Esther and Daniel. Character is developed and revealed by tests and all of life is really a test. God constantly watches your response to other people, family, problems, successes, conflicts, illness and disappointments. And testing keeps us alert.
You will be tested by major changes, delayed promises, unanswered prayers, undeserved criticism and tragedies. Typically God tests faith through problems, hope through possessions and love through people. When you understand that life is a test, everything is significant. Some tests seem very hard, while others you don’t even notice. But God wants you to pass these tests of life.
1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” So life has eternal consequences.
Life on earth is a Trust. Our time on earth, our energy, intelligence, opportunities, relationships and resources are all gifts from God that He has entrusted to our care and management. We are stewards of whatever God gives us. This concept of stewardship begins with the recognition that God owns everything. Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein.”
We never really own anything during our brief stay on earth. God just loans everything to us while we are here. It was God’s property before you arrived and God will loan it to someone else after you die. When God created Adam and Eve, He appointed them to be in charge. Genesis 1:28, “God said, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Humans have to take care of what God created on earth. Don’t be proud as if you earned everything that you have. 1 Corinthians 4:7 says, “And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” 1 Corinthians 4:2, “it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” Do your best to take care of what is God’s.
Jesus explains this trust in the parable of talents in Matthew 25. A businessman entrusts his wealth to the care of his servants while he is away. When he returns he evaluates each servant’s responsibility and rewards them accordingly. Verse 23, “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.”
At the end of your life on earth, you too will be evaluated and rewarded according to how you handled what God entrusted to you. Everything you do in your life has eternal implications. If you treat everything as a trust, God will first affirm that: Good job, well done. Next you will be given responsibility over many things. And then God will invite you with a celebration: Come and share your Master’s happiness.
For many people money is the greatest test of all. Money is both a test and a trust from God. How we use money is a test of how trustworthy we are. Luke 16:11 says, “If you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon (money), who will commit to your trust the true riches (spiritual blessings)?” There is a direct relationship between how you use your money and the quality of your spiritual life.
Is the way you manage your money preventing God from doing more in your life? Can you be trusted with spiritual riches? Jesus said in Luke 12:48, “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” Life is a test and a trust, the more God gives you, the more responsible He expects you to be.
LIFE IS A TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENT
The Bible tells us that our life on earth is brief and temporary. Job 8:9 says, “For we were born yesterday, and know nothing, because our days on earth are a shadow.” You won’t be here long, so don’t get too attached. David prayed this in Psalm 39:4, “Lord, help me to realize how brief my time on earth will be. Help me to know that I am here frail and for but a moment more.”
The Bible compares life on earth to living temporarily in a foreign country. This is not your permanent home, you are just passing through. The bible uses terms like alien, pilgrim, foreigner, stranger, visitor and traveler. We as God’s children should think differently about life from the way unbelievers do. Philippians 3:18-19, “All they think about is this life. But we are citizens of heaven where Jesus lives.”
Stop worrying about ‘having it all’ on earth. Do not adopt the values, priorities and lifestyles of the world around us. The temptations of this world are called by God, “spiritual adultery.” James 4:4 says, “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
2 Corinthians 5:20 says, “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ.” God warns us not to get too attached to all that looks attractive all around us. 1 Peter 2:11 says, “Abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.” Those in frequent contact with the things of this world should make good use of it without becoming attached to them, because this is all temporary and will pass away.
With all the fascinating attractions, mesmerizing media and enjoyable experiences available today, it is easy to forget that the pursuit of happiness is not what life is all about. Remember what 2 Corinthians 4:18 says, “While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
As followers of Christ we will experience difficulties, sorrows and rejection. God allows us to feel these dissatisfactions in our life, longings that will never be fulfilled on this side of eternity. You will never feel completely satisfied on earth, because you were made to experience more. You will have happy moments here, but nothing compared with what God has planned for you in heaven.
Do not assume that God’s goal is material prosperity or popular success, as the world defines it. It is true that faithfulness to God does not guarantee success in ministry. Paul was faithful but ended up in prison. John the Baptist was faithful but was beheaded. Millions of Christians have been martyred or come to the end of life with nothing to show for. But the end of life is not the end!
Your time on earth now is not your complete story. You must wait until heaven for the rest of your chapter. It takes faith to live on earth as a foreigner. Why do people waste so much time and energy and concern on something that was not going to last? When life gets tough and you are overwhelmed with doubt, when you are not sure that living for Christ is worth it, just remember, you are not home yet.
Hebrews 11:13 and 16, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” Life in God’s city is beyond compare.