Yesterday we started our discussion about finding our purpose as men. You can read the first part here.
God’s intent has been lost due to our misunderstanding
In Genesis chapter three the human race made a decision to turn its back on God and not follow in his commands. As a result we ended up losing our connection with God. This also meant we lost our understanding and knowledge of God’s intent and purpose for us and the world. As we have seen through this whole series everything on earth was put here for a purpose yet that doesn’t necessarily mean we always are aware of what that purpose is. In essence what we have done is purchased a very expensive and complicated piece of equipment and tossed away the instruction manual. We might get the equipment to work but will never be able to have it work to its full potential because we have decided to ignore the very instructions that would allow it to fulfill its complete purpose. There are likely special features and functions it has to offer but that we will never utilize because the instruction manual has been discarded as unnecessary.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7
“Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding.” Proverbs 4:1
“Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.” Proverbs 23:12
When we discard God’s instructions for our lives we shouldn’t be surprised when our lives break down and need to be fixed. We might function but we will always be operating at a certain level of dysfunction unless we really take the time to understand our own purpose. Please don’t mistake my words for a requirement of perfection. That is not the point. God says that his grace is sufficient for us. We all fall short at times in our journey with God so we must exercise patience with ourselves as with others. I am simply saying we must get back in line with God and ensure we are doing our very best to follow his instructions for our lives.
When we don’t know our purpose (or disregard it), abuse is inevitable
There was a time in my career when I traveled frequently for work – as much as 90% of my time. It was only a brief period of time but I spent more time in rental cars, airplanes and Hampton Inns than I ever cared to (although the job was pretty great.) I quickly learned how easy it was to abuse the rental car I had. This was especially true once I started getting multiple upgrades and would find myself driving a Ford Mustang or Cadillac around. Why are rental cars abused so much? Because the people driving them don’t care how long the car lasts! If you own a vehicle you generally want to take good care of it so it will last a long time so you can avoid having to pay for a new one every year. It’s purpose is to provide you and your family transportation for years to come (which is why it has a warranty on it.) Yet when most people rent a car they have no problem abusing the car over a three day period because they won’t ever be in that car again and don’t really care how hard they drive it. It’s purpose is abused because the people driving it just don’t care.
There is another problem with this concept: the consequences that come from not understanding our purpose. For instance, if you drink something poisonous you are going to die. You don’t need God to inflict any additional “punishment” on you; you’re dead! In other words, when we abuse our purpose and our lives we shouldn’t be mad at our creator when we suffer consequences. God wants us to avoid those consequences by living a life of purpose – his purpose. Often times we are victims of our own consequences and yet turn around and yell at God for the mess our lives have become. If you don’t want to have a kid, don’t have sex. Don’t get mad at God if you have sex and end up having a child you don’t expect (or a disease.) If you don’t want to go to jail or prison then don’t engage in activities that may result in your incarceration – and don’t hang out with those who do. When we face consequences in our lives more often than not we need to be looking in the mirror and not pointing fingers at God or other people for our “bad luck.” When purpose is misunderstood, abuse is inevitable.
“Whoever scorns instruction will pay for it, but whoever respects a command is rewarded.” Proverbs 13:13
We must discover our purpose by asking the manufacturer
If you want to discover the purpose of a thing, you shouldn’t be asking the thing itself. This is because it didn’t design, plan or build itself. Only the manufacturer knows the how and the why of the product he or she created. Other people might “think” they know or feel they have an educated guess as to the purpose of its creation but they can never truly know for sure. Too many of us spend our younger years (and some even our older years) “experimenting” in an attempt to “find ourselves.” We experiment sexually, with drugs and even with school/college. All these experiments than create problems for us as we grow into adulthood and are being asked to be productive members of society. The problem with experiments is every so often one of them is going to blow up in your face. It not only will cause you damage but also others who you care about. Many times these experiments get us so far off track many people never get back to finding their purpose in life.
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:12
“We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” Romans 7:14-25
It is not about judging or being judgmental of course. My point is only that we often “experiment” trying to find ourselves on our own rather than going directly to the manufacturer to get answers. For some reason we are afraid God is going to tell us something we don’t want to hear when often times the exact opposite happens. God has designed you for a purpose and the things you love to do, whether it is creative, professionally or otherwise are built into your DNA for a purpose. God’s purpose. He want to use those gifts, skills and desires you have but they are supposed to be used to fulfill your purpose not necessarily your wallet (although that can happen too!) If we men truly hunger to know our purpose or reason for living we must look to God and our user manual – the Bible. We shouldn’t be looking to other men to tell us our purpose.