Finding Purpose in Life: What It Means to Live for God
Does your life matter? Ever ask that question? Finding purpose in life isn’t easy as we grapple with all the popular philosophies, difficulties, and distractions surrounding us. But getting right to the point–there is no purpose in life outside of God’s purpose for you. Literally. None. Emptiness is all you can expect. Why?
Jehovah God is the Creator, Savior, Sustainer, and Restorer of all things. He holds the universe in His hands. So…you can’t escape Him. You can ignore Him, but He doesn’t ignore you. And your life matters to Him. He has a plan and purpose for you.
The trouble is that we live in a world of tremendous pressure that draws our loyalty, allegiance, and focus away from God and onto lesser pursuits. While we’re entangled in the minutia, distractions, and falsehoods, we give little thought to Him and His purpose.
Hebrews 12 compares God’s plan for our lives to an athletic race (think Olympics) with its obstacles and weights.
So the questions are:
- Are you running the race He has laid out for you?
- What is holding you back from running it well?
Let’s dig into these questions and find out what it means to live for God with purpose.
Your Life Matters to God
You might see your personal race as insignificant. This belief can keep you from finding your purpose or seeking it at all. But as is often the case, God doesn’t see it the same way we do. Often, what the world finds significant, God dismisses. And what the world overlooks, God puts in the spotlight.
God’s working in the world is often not what we consider important. The Iowa Caucuses, the NFL, Hollywood, big tech, we would say these are all noteworthy in our world. But the truth is that these are insignificant compared to the spiritual warfare that rages every day, and they pale in comparison to God’s plans to work in and through your life. You matter to Him personally.
So before you go dismissing your value and significance, realize that God doesn’t see it that way at all. Because God the Father sacrificed His Son Jesus Christ for you, you now have the opportunity to access God and approach Him directly.
This means you can ask questions, receive answers, and find the purpose He has for you.
What Race Are You Running?
What is the race? Your race, fulfilling your purpose, begins when you begin a relationship with Jesus Christ and become God’s child. This is the starting point of every human race, and the point at which you receive the Holy Spirit to help you. Some of life’s callings are for all Christ followers and are outlined in the Bible, like:
- Sharing Jesus with others
- Living God’s way (holiness)
- Raising our children to know and follow Jesus
- Loving and respecting our spouses
- Honoring one another, etc.
We know this is the race that is set before us, but there are other callings more specific to us personally. If we’re seeking God’s will in His Word and prayer, He will direct us in matters such as choice of a spouse, career, using our talents, ways to serve Him, etc. (And this is a whole other topic of discussion.)
But what we don’t know are the specific circumstances that will come as we run. And our specific callings might change with time as God wills. Thankfully, He’ll run alongside us during the race and guide each step–if we let Him.
However, this means our lives need to be God-oriented, and our relationship with Him should be primary. If we make God the focus of our time, consideration, efforts,energies, and resources, we’re well equipped to run our race well, finding purpose in life.
As you might guess, there’s a force always opposing you in this race. You’ll find that weights, sin, and distractions will easily turn your feet out of the way if you’re not prepared and focused.
What Is Holding You Back from God’s Purpose?
Hebrews 12:1 tells us to “lay aside every weight”. This means to cast off any encumbrance or weight hindering your race. Sometimes when runners train, they strap weights to their ankle to build endurance, but they certainly don’t wear them during a race.
Therefore, in Hebrews 12, God is asking if there, is there anything in your life weighing you down, holding you back, keeping you from pursuing God and living your purpose. These weights are generally anything that keeps you from accomplishing God’s will for you.
Is there anything in life blunting the edge of your soul and slaking your appetite for the true and living God? Is worshiping God, knowing God, pursuing God, praying to God, reading His Word…is it boring? Is it routine or non-existent?
Perhaps it’s earthly pleasures, entertainment, ambition, or any number of other distractions that are keeping you from living out God’s purpose for you.
When God shows you a weight that is dragging you down, here is what to do: cast it off. Lay it aside. How do you do that? Believe God. Know His Word. Understand His truth. Believe it, and ask Him to help you live it. Most of the battle is identifying the weights.
Is Sin Pulling You Off Course?
Hebrews 12:1 also speaks of the “the sin which doth so easily beset us”. In the context of previous Hebrews chapters, this specifically seems to be the sin of drawing back from God in unbelief.
The idea is that you can’t live for God and live out your purpose when you doubt Him. Doubt is equated with drawing back from Him. This sin can keep you from taking the next steps in your race and even cause you to give up on God and His purpose for your life.
Hebrews 11:6 says, But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
When we aren’t trusting God, not believing Him for something, it’s a sin that keeps us from running our race and receiving our reward. It weighs us down and holds us back so that we aren’t making progress like we should.
Is there anything holding you back in your pursuit of Him? Is something causing you to doubt His goodness, His faithfulness, His willingness to keep His promises, His love for you…to doubt that living for him is worth it?
Jesus Forgives and Renews Your Purpose
Perhaps you haven’t even started your race or found your purpose, because you haven’t believed Him for salvation. Or maybe you have a relationship with Jesus and aren’t believing Him for the next step He would have you to take. Perhaps you’ve given up on the Lord and have stepped off your course entirely. Whatever it is, God says to lay it aside. Cast it off.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
When you have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, you can confess your doubt and unbelief, receive forgiveness, and ask Him to help you have faith in His promises to you and in his purpose for your life. He will set you back on track.
Set Your Focus On Jesus
The key to finding your purpose and living for God is to fix your focus on Jesus Christ.
Looking unto Jesus… Hebrews 12:2
In our world of 15-second, micro attention spans, it’s a challenge to give anything our undivided attention. But just like the contestants in the races of ancient days, we won’t be successful in our race if our attention is in the wrong place.
Specifically, the author of Hebrews is comparing life’s race to the stadium race of his day. It was a long race with contestants running multiple lengths of the stadium, back and forth.The goal was to not give up, to finish and win.
In the stadium races each contestant had a marker at the end of his lane. As they ran their race they had to fix their attention on their marker so they didn’t step out of their lane. That would create extra steps and possibly disqualify them.
In an authentic Christian life, Jesus is your marker. He is where you want to set your eyes so that you don’t veer of course or become disqualified.
Is Your Attention Divided?
A wrong or distracted focus is a sin that easily besets (or ensnares) all of us. It’s easy to get distracted by the cares, worries, pursuits, and desires of this world so that you’re no longer living out God’s purpose for your life.
This kind of distracted living puts God on the back burner, making Him a back-burner God. And that’s when life gets hard and exhausting, compelling us to just give up.
But God wants us to run our race and fulfill HIs purpose in our lives. So, how do we stay focused? We must run with patience (endurance).
…let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Hebrews 12:1
God has “set” our race before us, made it obvious, and now we must endure to the finish line.
If we want to endure, not only must we set aside weights and unbelief, but we must also set our attention on the One who will sustain us to the end. Jesus Christ allows us to bear up under difficulty when temptations come, and He allows us to keep pushing ahead as the weights fall away.
One Reason Not to Quit
It’s only because of our Savior that we don’t quit. But when we live with divided or scant attention to Him, our lives become unfocused and we lose our strength and power connection. We run out of gas. We stall part way through. We quit the race. We drop our life’s purpose.
The entertainment industry and media are well-equipped to provide you with all the distraction and noise you’re willing to embrace. But the tradeoff is a wasted, empty, and purposeless life.
Is God on the front burner of your life? Is he the headline? Is he the main point, or is he the footnote? Has he been relegated to the back burner?
If you want to run your race with patience, you must believe that living for God and His eternal reward is better than what this world offers.
Expect Daily Victories
Through The power of God’s Word and Spirit, you can have daily victories as you find your purpose in life and live out God’s plan for you. Does it get hard? Sure, but the victories are that much sweeter, and you grow stronger with each one. Joy abounds as you focus on the race He has set before you.
Remember that Christ died not yielding to temptation or drawing back from God, never deviating from the race God called Him to run. As a child of God, you have that power living in you. So keep your eyes on Jesus and give him your undivided attention.
Keep fighting. Whatever sin you’re battling with today, it’s is worth resisting. By God’s strength, cast it away. Confess. Receive forgiveness. Draw strength from His Word and love for you.
You don’t want weights and sin to shift God to the back burner of your life. You don’t want your attention divided. You don’t want to fail in your purpose. By the power of Christ, you don’t have to let that happen.
Remember Christ endured this world and the cross of Calvary for the Father and for you. So, ask for that same power in His name. Then live it. Do it. Choose Him. Cast all else aside.
Feeling uncertain about your relationship with God? Watch this video.