We certainly enjoy celebrating special days, don’t we? We celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, and numerous holidays, including Christmas, New Year’s Day, Easter, and very soon, Memorial Day.
What for you is the most important day? Holidays are fun, but for many of us, our date of birth means the most because after all, it’s a very personal special day, one that’s not shared by many people we know. Mark Twain, the celebrated author who also was quite the philosopher, agreed – but only in part.
Twain offered a view that in his mind, two days stand out above the rest.
He said, "The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why."
Each one of us knows the day we were born – but how many of us can point to a day or time when, as Twain suggests, we discovered why we were born?
Early in life we typically coast through life, taking in experiences like drinking from a firehose. But as we get older, some of us start waxing a bit philosophical, asking deep questions such as, “Why am I here?” and “What’s my purpose?” Have you ever done that? If you have, have you arrived at an answer that you find satisfactory?
The “why” questions of life are sometimes answered in terms of our activities – by the kinds of work we do, our parenting responsibilities, our accomplishments, or even our standing in the community. However, according to the Bible, those are not sufficient answers for the question of, “Why am I here?”
The Westminster Shorter Catechism, on which Reformers collaborated in the mid-1600s to present a clear statement of doctrine and faith, asserts, “Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” We might say, “Well, that was nearly 400 years ago!” But when you think about it, the Lord – whom the Scriptures describe as “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8) – and the nature of humankind have remained constant through the ages, so it’s fair to give credence to the revered theological declaration.
But what about the Bible itself? What can it tell us about why we’re here? I have long appreciated the apostle Paul’s very personal expression in Philippians 3:10, “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” While none of us would go out of our way to experience sufferings, this is a strong description of one sold out to being a follower of Jesus.
The Amplified Version of this verse that I actually chose as my personal purpose statement, expands on this idea. It states, “that I may know Him, that I may progressively become more intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His person, more strongly and more clearly….” Imagine a lifetime devoted to getting to know Jesus better and better. Do you think that might have an impact on how we conduct our lives each day?
In another place, Paul explains how central faith and trust in Jesus Christ should be. He said, “For in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
Those are excellent generalizations that can apply to every man, woman and young person who’s committed to Christ, but how should the “why” for my earthly existence differ from yours? That’s a question worthy of much discussion, but again I believe the Scriptures give some clear direction.
After Paul’s teaching in the second chapter of Ephesians that we’re saved not by our works and effort, but solely on the basis of God’s grace and the faith He gives us, he makes this powerful statement: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
Later in the same book, the apostle observes the reason we have persons gifted as prophets and evangelists, pastors and teachers is not so they can do all of God’s work. Instead, their purpose is:
“to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-13).
That doesn’t mean we should be walking around in flowing robes, hands folded in prayer and singing spiritual songs all the time. But that does mean from the moment we awaken to the moment we return to bed, our minds, hearts and motives should be directed toward God and available to take part in His divine purposes.
As Colossians 3:17,23 instruct us, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him…. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
No, this doesn’t tell us where we should go to college – or if we should go at all. It doesn’t identify who we should marry or how many kids to have. And it doesn’t specify whether we should become a restaurant chef, school teacher, business or professional person, astronaut, grocery store clerk, serve in the military, or train to be a first responder.
However, it does teach us that whatever we do, our intent should be to honor and glorify God. Then, as we gain an understanding of our abilities, interests and strengths, He can guide us to the life and career paths where we can serve Him best.
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Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.