Purpose and Hope
Laying hold of a sense of purpose can be a significant source of motivation, but the problem is that even as believers, we are more inclined to pursue temporal rather than biblical purposes. In fact, most people fail to wrestle with the issue of purpose at all; without thought-out purposes to guide them, they base their decisions instead on activities and objectives that have become ends in themselves.
This is the antithesis of the way the Lord Jesus ordered His earthly life. Jesus had a clear understanding of the purpose of His life, and He derived His purpose from His Father and not His own ambitions or aspirations. The hallmark of His life was to learn His Father’s will and walk in the power of the Spirit to bring it to fruition. The gospels record three particularly clear purpose statements that related to our Lord’s life mission: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. . . . For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. . . . I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do” (Mark 10:45; Luke 19:10; John 17:4). Jesus’ purpose was to glorify His Father by seeking, serving, and saving the lost.
The Apostle Paul also had a well-defined sense of purpose that involved a passion for knowing and pleasing Christ and for remaining faithful to his personal calling to evangelism and edification (see Philippians 3:10, 13-14; 2 Corinthians 5:9; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 2 Timothy 4:7-8).
We cannot lay hold of God’s unique purpose for our lives without spending time with Him and inviting Him to clarify His purpose for us in His timing and way. It is never too late to begin wrestling with the reason for our earthly existence, since God in His sovereignty can use all our previous experiences to prepare us for our true mission. Ask the Lord to give you a personal purpose statement and a passion to fulfill it. (My own personal purpose statement is “to be a lover and servant of God and others.”) It is in this way that your activities and objectives will take on a depth of meaning.
Hebrews 6:11-20 instructs us to fix our hope solely on the character and promises of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. There is but one safe refuge for hope in this world, and that is the unchanging character of the triune God and the certain promises of Scripture that flow out of His character. “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us” (Hebrews 6:19-20). Thus, hope in the Bible is assured by God’s character.
A godly hope is also achieved through adversity. We are more likely to come into contact with our hope during times of trial and affliction than during times of success and prosperity, since the latter has a way of knitting our hearts to the promises of this world rather than the promises of the Word. As Paul told the Romans, “we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (5:2-5). In the same epistle he added, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. . . . For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it” (8:18, 24-25). Morris Inch (Psychology in the Psalms) notes that biblical hope “does not reduce the ingredients of living, but adds God to the equation. Hope shouts, not because there is no enemy, but because God gives the triumph. Hope sings, not because there is no night, but because God gives songs in the night. The pulse of hope is praise.”
We lay hold of biblical hope by faith (Ephesians 1:18), and the more it motivates us, the more it becomes evident to others (1 Peter 1:3; 3:15). It also assures us that whatever God calls us to do will be more than worth it all. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Taken from Ken Boa’s Handbook to Spiritual Growth.
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