Because we’re human, when we set out to find purpose in our lives, we may focus on doing something that makes us feel good about ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with healthy self-esteem, but if that’s our only goal, we risk missing what I believe is a vital component to finding purpose. Love. The kind of unselfish love that puts others’ needs ahead of our own comfort, gain, or acknowledgment.
Richard Sterns, President of World Vision U.S., says the following in his book Unfinished, Filling the Hole in Our Gospel: “God’s deepest desire is not that we would help the poor. God’s deepest desire is that we would love the poor; for if we love them, we will surely help them.”
Recently, I was moved by a friend’s decision to listen to God’s voice while standing in the line at the grocery store. The lady ahead of her was having difficulty with her debit/credit card being accepted, so she was going to call her bank while at the store in order to get the problem straightened out. My friend heard God telling her to pay for the women’s groceries. Whether or not the lady needed the financial assistance or not, it was probably a frustrating and embarrassing situation for her, and my friend responded out of caring and an obedience to God’s voice by offering to help.
Not long after, I was approached at a gas station by a man who looked to be in his mid-thirties and who had driven up in an older beater. He’d been out of work for some time, and he asked humbly if I could spare a gallon of gas. After listening to an inner voice encouraging me to give him cash, I felt total peace. The man was appreciative and even seemed surprised that I’d offer more than requested. He headed straight for the station clerk and paid for his gas.
A waitress who attempts to give customers a better day by her smile, her attentiveness, or her understanding when those she serves are less than kind, may very well be showing them love, though undeserved.
What do these scenarios have to do with purpose?
I believe that sometimes God gives us opportunities to be his “angels,” and in doing so, we fulfill his purpose for us in that moment in time. When we obey God’s whisper to love, we may never know the true impact our small acts of kindness may have, but he does.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (I Corinthians 13:1 NIV)
God gave us a wonderful example of purpose rooted in love. Jesus came to earth in human form because of it.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NIV)
I believe if we can focus on love in all situations—no matter what jobs, family responsibilities, or goals we have—we may very well be on our way to living the most fulfilled lives possible.
Have you ever felt a tug on your heart to perform an act of kindness? If so, what was the result?
If you’re struggling with something—or someone—in your life right now, how might changing your perspective and trying to view it/them through eyes of love help you view things differently?