“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Finding one’s purpose has been a hot topic for years with the release of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey in the late 1980’s to Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life. These books ignited excitement and unleashed insights on fulfilling your purpose. While reading those books, did you have some, “aha” moments like I did? As these books popularized the topic of “finding one’s purpose,” the most popular book of all time, the Bible laid out the principles of living purposefully thousands of years ago. Here are some principles from the Bible that have helped me to live a life of purpose.
1. Love God and your neighbor.
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no greater commandment than these.” Mark 12:30-31
By making loving God and others a priority, you are investing in eternity, for what endures at the end of time is love. If we boil down what matters in life, it is the people who have loved us in the good and bad times and those whom we have loved. Our closest loved ones have taken our phone call at an inconvenient time, booked a plane ticket to see us, laughed so hard that we cried, and then cried with us. Now, some of those “neighbors” are hard to love, and often we feel like we fail to love them well, but you just never know how a little love, like medicine can start healing a hard heart. I can think of no better example of deep love than the word, hesed in Hebrew that describes Ruth’s and Naomi’s friendship. This is what hesed looks like in our lives: making it your business to look out for the best interests of others.
2. Accept short-term discomfort because sacrifice is the pathway to greatness.
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 2 Corinthians 4:17
Great things are accomplished through sacrifice. When I think of an extraordinary amount of sacrifice involved to accomplish something great, William Wilberforce is in my top ten. He risked his life, career, and reputation to fight for the abolition of slaves.
3. Remember past failures do not define you but instead lead to growth and lasting change.
“For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.” Romans 7:18-19
“For we know that our old self was crucified with him, so that the body of sin might be done way with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.” Romans 6:6
Many people whom God called to accomplish His plans and purposes failed greatly. Paul persecuted Christians; Peter, one of Jesus’ closest friends denied him; David had a man killed and then married that man’s wife. No one is disqualified from being used by God or too far away from His loving arms.
4. Avoid a diet of comparison because empty calories still leave you hungry.
“Each one should test his own actions. . . . without comparing himself to somebody else.” Galatians 6:4
Instead, a diet of reading the Bible and praying daily gives you good fuel to love and resist the urge to compare yourself to others. Just as it is hard to stop eating junk food, it is hard to quench an appetite of comparison. A healthy spiritual diet is the key to living a purposeful life, contributing to the flourishing of all people.