Everyone of us is driven by something. Is it as obvious to everyone else as a stain on your shirt or blouse? What is driving your life? Is it fear? Is it anger? Is it remorse? Is it ambition? The desire to please? The accumulation of possessions? A few years ago i examined what the scriptures teach about the Purpose Driven Life. Five main purposes that God intends to be a driving force in our life.
1.We were planned for God’s pleasure – to know him and love him;
2.We were formed for God’s family – to find a home and family;
3.We were created to become like Christ – with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control;
4.We were shaped for serving God – with a unique mix of talents, skills and passion; and
5.We were made for a mission – to introduce other people to God’s five purposes for their lives too.
Without a God-given purpose to shape our life, we become driven by destructive influences for we are all motivated by something. Here are three of the most common forces that drive people. People are:
1.Driven by Guilt and Fear
Many people are unable or unwilling to forget what lies behind. They are unable to hide from their past. The Apostle Paul had every reason not to forget his past either. As we saw last week, he writes, “As for zeal, persecuting the church” (Philippians 3:6). He had hunted down Christians, he had supervised their arrest. He had prosecuted them and even approved their execution. “Guilt-driven people are manipulated by their memories” so that “their past controls their future”. But even though “we are products of our past” … “we don’t have to be prisoners of it.” God’s purpose is not limited by our past. His purposes are not neutralized by the mess we make of life.
God promised through Jeremiah to his wayward people, “For I know the plans I have for you … plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11). God is concerned with your future not your past. Without a God-given purpose for the future many people are driven by guilt & fear from the past. That is why Paul insists, ”Forgetting what is behind … I press on toward the goal.” (Philippians 3:13). We must forget the past and look to the future. Secondly, many people are:
- Driven by Anger and Resentment
Holding on to hurts is incredibly destructive. If we don’t forgive and forget, we will remember and resent. “Resentment driven people either ‘clam up’ and internalize their anger or ‘blow up’ and shower others with the fall-out.” Anger always hurts. Paul writes with sadness about some who were once friends:
“For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction…” (Philippians 3:18-19).
If we do not forgive, Jesus warns, God will not forgive us. Forgiveness is at the heart of the gospel – it is the purpose of the cross. To not forgive is to turn our backs on Jesus and what he has done for us. In Philip Yancey’s book What’s so Amazing about Grace? he writes “Not to forgive imprisons me in the past and it locks out all of the potential for change.” Resentment always hurts you more than the one resented. “While the one in the wrong has probably forgotten what it was that offended you, you will continue to stew in it, chained to the past.” Rick Warren says, “Listen: Those who have hurt you in the past cannot continue to hurt you now unless you hold on to the pain through resentment. Your past is past! Nothing will change it. You are only hurting yourself with your bitterness.”
God promised through Jeremiah “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:12-13). Instead of crying out against others in rage, give them over to him. He will listen. He can take it. Seek him and you will find him. Forgive and you will be forgiven. For to forgive is also to forget. To “forget” in the Bible means “no longer to be influenced by”. In Hebrews 10:17 the Lord promises
“Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” That doesn’t mean God has a bad memory! It means He forgives our past as if its forgotten.
That is why we should not keep looking back. When Paul urges us to forget the past, he means that we are to break the power of the past by living for the future. We cannot change the past, but Jesus has changed the consequences of our past. Driven by guilt and fear, driven by anger and resentment. Thirdly many people are
- Driven by Wealth and Materialism
The desire to acquire can so easily become a consuming passion. The drive to want more comes from the mistaken belief that ‘more’ will make me more happy, more important, more secure. The truth is the very opposite. Possessions only provide temporary happiness. The fact is, “Self worth and net worth are not the same. Your value is not determined by your valuables … God says the most valuable things in life are not things …
Real security can only be found in that which can never be taken from you – your relationship with God.” i heard a word from my father Rev Tunde Joda saying: ‘Certainly no one can know himself until he has honestly asked himself about his motives. What is the driving force of his life? What ambition dominates and directs him? Ultimately there are only two controlling ambitions, to which all others may be reduced. One is our own glory, and the other, God’s.’
Paul says, “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:7-8)
Paul counted the best the world could offer as rubbish compared to knowing Jesus. His life had become purpose driven. Three destructive things that drive many people : People driven by guilt and fear, driven by anger and resentment; driven by wealth and materialism. In Philippians 3, Paul offers a much more worthwhile motivation : the God-given purpose driven life. This is how he describes it:
“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:10-14)
There are at least five benefits from living a purpose-driven life contained in this passage.
- Knowing your purpose gives meaning to your life
Paul writes: “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” (Philippians 3:12).
“Without God, life has no purpose, and without purpose, life has no meaning. Without meaning, life has no significance…” The greatest tragedy is not death. The greatest tragedy is to live without a purpose.
That is a life sentence. We were made to have meaning. “I know the plans I have for you” God promised through Jeremiah. The initiative is all from God. Paul’s life had been transformed because the grace of Jesus had taken hold of him. This is why Paul can be so emphatic “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of sharing in his suffering.” (Philippians 3:10). Jesus had shown Paul love and forgiveness in friendship. Jesus had given Paul meaning and hope, a new purpose for living. “Hope is as essential to your life as air and water. You need hope to cope.
- Knowing your purpose simplifies your life
Paul writes, “But one thing I do.” (Philippians 3:13). One thing. One. “One thing you lack” Jesus says to the rich young man in Mark 10. “Only one thing is needed” Jesus has to say to over worked and hyper-critical Martha in Luke 10. “One thing I know” cries the man who had received his sight by the power of Christ, in John 9. Often we are involved in too “many things”. Only one thing matters. God’s purpose for you today – this moment. No athlete succeeds by doing everything.They succeed by specializing.
Life becomes cluttered with choices made based on circumstances, pressures, and emotions. Not knowing our purpose leads to overwork, to stress, fatigue and tension. On the other hand, knowing your purpose simplifies your life because, “It defines what you do and what you don’t do. Your purpose becomes the standard you use to evaluate which activities are essential and which aren’t.” I regularly remind myself that it is impossible to do everything people want me to do. I have just enough time to do God’s will. If I can’t get it all done, it means I am trying to do more than God intended for me to do or just fiddling with my computer. Rick Warren says wisely, “Purpose-driven living leads to a simpler lifestyle and a saner schedule.” Knowing your purpose gives meaning to your life. Knowing your purpose simplifies your life
- Knowing your purpose focuses your life
“I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.” (Philippians 3:13)
When you’re in the middle of a race you don’t look over your shoulder, because when you do, it can throw off your confidence if you see somebody gaining on you. It can throw off your step so that you slow down. You will lose your balance. You could fall. There’s no reason to look back. As a runner, you’re focused only on the finishing line. You cannot focus on what is ahead and turn your head at the same time. Take your eyes off Jesus and you will focus on other people and what they have or have not done. Focus on Jesus and his love and everything is put in its right perspective.
Here’s a test by one of the greatest man of God have ever met Pst Sam Adeyemi He says, “If you can’t sing ‘Amazing Grace’ with tears in your eyes–or at least in your heart–then you really don’t understand what it means.” Does the grace of God drive your life? Does it grip you? Does it motivate you?
Knowing your purpose gives meaning to your life.
Knowing your purpose simplifies your life
Knowing your purpose focuses your life
- Knowing your purpose motivates your life
“I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)
This is purpose produces passion. Nothing energises more than having a clear purpose. “On the other hand, passion dissipates when you lack a purpose.” Rev Tunde Joda says, “Just getting out of bed can become a major chose. It is usually meaningless work not overwork that wears us down, saps our strength, and robs our joy.” We won’t become a winning athlete by listening to lectures, watching movies, reading books, and cheering at the games. An athlete is not distracted by cream buns or heckling bystanders.
They win by getting on to the track, practising hard and determining to win. Hebrews tells us “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. He started the race for us and he will finish it with us. We are not alone. He is with us by his Holy Spirit. There is no greater motivation than discovering the purpose for which you were created. Knowing your purpose gives meaning to your life, it simplifies your life, it focuses your life and it motivates your life. Finally,
- Knowing your purpose prepares you for eternity
“I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14) “Many people invest their entire lives building up a legacy on earth.” Its all for the children they rationalize. “They want to be remembered when they’re gone.” They want to be immortalized so we name roads after them. . “what ultimately matters most will not be what others say about your life but what God says… because all achievements are eventually surpassed, all records are one day broken, all reputations eventually fade, all tributes are soon forgotten, and even road names can get changed.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, God is not promising you that there will not be tribulations along the way, but He has promised that when this such a time occurs, He will be with you all the days of your life, He will not leave you alone, and He said He will grant you the grace and the strength to be able to bear whatever problems that come your way.