Vol.XII No.XI Pg.3
January 1976

Purposeful Living

Dan S. Shipley

Nothing is more vital to worthwhile achievement than a strong sense of purpose. As someone has well noted, A purpose underlies character, culture, position, attainment of every sort — it is the eternal condition of success. And, we might add, the condition of eternal success as well. Nowhere is this sense of purpose more essential than in the spiritual realm.

In fact, the Scriptures teach that purpose of heart is an important part of faithfulness. When Barnabas came to the young church in Antioch, he exhorted them that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord (Acts 11:23). Such cleaving would be hard for these new Christians, surrounded as they were with the continual influence of paganism and idolatry. God knew exactly what they needed to see them through: an abiding sense of purpose. They needed to remember what was the hope of their calling; that their citizenship was in heaven and that, belonging to God, they should live the rest of their time in the flesh to the doing of His will (1 Pet. 4:2). When men want to go to heaven more than they want anything else, and when they keep this objective in mind, it will make a real difference in how they live! The weary traveler with a home-centered mind is not likely to be easily distracted from his homeward journey. Neither is the Christian who seeks his heavenly home — the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. He presses on (Phil. 3:14). Discouragement, persecutions, temptations and other problems will come, but the purposed-filled heart can face and conquer them — and press on.

Now, if going to heaven is our ultimate goal, it will affect our every-day living, as already noted. Reaching the long-range objective involves intermediate objectives. As someone has put it, the best way to peel a bucket of potatoes is one at a time. Purpose has an important place in our days, weeks and months. We must reduce purpose to specifics — one potato at a time.

Individually, that means concentrating on definite objectives in serving the Lord. A resolve to generally do better may be well intended, but is not generally followed. Concerning the matter of giving, for instance, Paul said that it was to be according as one had purposed in his heart (2 Cor. 9:7). That implies forethought and planning. And that ought to preface all service to God. Teaching the lost of our community deserves such purposing. But, like the potatoes, itll have to be one at a time. Without purpose our spiritual lives are apt to drift — and all drifting is in the wrong direction.

Collectively, in our together work as a church, there is the same pressing need for purpose. For lack of purpose some local churches do little more than keep house for the Lord. Little is planned so little is done. Objectives are as essential here as with the individual — and they ought to include the participation of as many members as possible. Whether making religious surveys, personal work programs or intensive special studies, we should plan the Lords work and do it — on purpose and with purpose!