Author: Ron Graham
The Aims You Set
—Achieving life’s purpose
We have been created as teleological beings. That's a fancy way of saying that we are designed to serve and achieve a special purpose.
Human beings are happiest when their hearts and minds are set upon their true purpose, and their lives are directed by it.
In this lesson, we look at the aims that we set for ourselves and how they match the real point and purpose of our lives.
1 Following the Purpose of our Lives
The way our lives should be directed has been beautifully stated by Paul the apostle...
"Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. Don't be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is —good, well-pleasing, and perfect" (Romans 12:1-2).
The point and purpose of our lives is to do what is good, to do what pleases God and what is his will, and to do it with total dedication "giving no place to the devil" (Ephesians 4:27).
2 Being a Living Sacrifice to God
The point and purpose of our lives is to be a living sacrifice to God. To the many of us who are rather dedicated to ourselves, that is a pretty far-out and radical idea!
J.B. Phillips paraphrases the passage we quoted earlier (Romans 12:1-2) in these words...
"With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable to him. Don't let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves toward the goal of maturity." (Romans 12:1-2, J.B.Phillips)
It isn't hard to see that Paul is here alluding to our Lord’s sacrifice of his perfect life, yielding up his body as a perfect sacrifice, crucified for us that we might be saved from sin. Our response is to live accordingly, our lives of full devotion reflecting Christ’s own sacrificial spirit.
"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus... he made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant... he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:4-13, in part).
3 Setting True Goals for Yourself
We all realise that great goals are achieved by breaking them down into several smaller goals, goals for today, goals for this week, goals for this year, goals for this decade. If your goal for today, and for this week, are worldly goals, what is the goal for your life?
Think carefully about the aims you set yourself. Don't examine only the broad life-goals, but examine also the more immediate short-term aims. Do these divert you from the point and purpose of your life, or do they fit in with your "pressing on toward the mark for the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:12)?
Most people live their lives in departments such as: career; family; fun and recreation; romance; community service; and religious faith. They keep each department fairly separate, each with its own goals. The goals of one department often conflict with the goals of another.
The Christian life has only one department: the Way of Christ. Everything is fitted into that. The aims we set for each aspect of our lives are dictated by the Lord. So all aspects of our lives are in harmony.
"And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (Colossians 3:17, ESV).
¶"You say that today or tomorrow you will go to this or that city, spend a year there and trade for profit. But you don't know about tomorrow! What is your life if not a puff of vapour that appears for a moment then vanishes? You should say that if the Lord is willing you will do this or that" (James 4:13-15).
“But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God. Keep waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life” (Jude 1:20-21).