I have a dear friend who has suffered greatly throughout her life. A childhood of abuse became a life of abusive relationships and bad decisions that have all but destroyed her physical, emotional and mental well being. But, of all her torment, she would tell you that her greatest pain comes from the lack of a sense of purpose to her life. She literally feels like she has no reason to get out of bed in the mornings. Not only does lack of purpose damage us physically, it damages us mentally, relationally and spiritually.
Several years ago, I wasted a lot of time trying to learn exactly why God put me here. I searched the scriptures, I prayed, sought advice from friends. I say I wasted time because the answer was so simple that I kept missing it. All I needed to do was focus on two great truths.
The Great Commandment
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:36-39)
This is a commandment for all of us; it is the source of man’s universal purpose.
- We are created to bring glory to God.
“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” (Revelation 4:11)
- We are created to have relationship with God.
And you shall be my people, and I will be your God.” (Jeremiah 30:22)
- We are created to love others.
But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” (Luke 10:29, 36-37)
Words to remember: that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:17)
The Great Commission
And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. (Mark 16:15)
Not only are we created for a universal purpose, we are called to a universal purpose. Of all the instructions Jesus could have left His disciples (that includes us), He gave them what has become known as The Great Commission. Wouldn’t you agree if He chose these as His final words before His ascension, we ought to pay attention to them?
Having been created for and called to a universal purpose, we each have been given a unique purpose.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. (1 Corinthians 12:4-6)
It is knowing our unique purpose with which most of us struggle, it is what we are most uncertain about. Our concerns can be laid to rest if we will just remember one thing, what God calls us to do, He equips us to do.
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, (Ephesians 4:11-12)
Recognizing our gifts
There are all kinds of “surveys”, even whole bible studies on discovering your spiritual gifts. (A word of caution based on my own experience, if we’re not careful, the “process” of discovering our gifts can become nothing more than a parlor game.) While a gifts survey can be a useful tool for helping do some “self-evaluation” we want to be careful that we don’t let the results limit availability to serve.
If our gifts come from God – which they do
If He has given gifts to us for the advancement of His kingdom – which He has
Shouldn’t we expect that He would make them clearly known to us – He does.
But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. (1 Corinthians 12:11)
Do you want to know what your gift(s) is? Ask yourself three questions.
- What talent has God given me? (what am I good at?)
We’re all good at something. We’re not talking about man’s talent or our own abilities, we’re talking about the gifts God has given us.
2. What passion has God given me? (what do I enjoy doing?)
What do you have a love for? Reading, cooking, gardening, sewing? At first look you may not see how your hobbies or pastimes could translate into spiritual gifts, but think about it. Somewhere there is a lonely senior whose eyes no longer allow her to read a book, there is a neighbor unable to prepare a meal because of illness; you get the point. One of my favorite verses of scripture is Psalms 37:4: Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. When it comes to using our gifts, I wonder if we might read that verse “let the desires of your heart be a delight to the LORD” for surely to delight ourselves in the LORD is to honor him with the use of our gifts He has given us.
3. How can those talents and passion glorify God? (where can I be used?)
Sadly, there are too many of us who think that if we aren’t gifted to do something “important”, we have nothing to offer. This is a great lie from Satan himself, designed to keep us from the joy of doing Lord’s work. In God’s kingdom, every work of every gift is not only important, it is vital. Don’t take my word for it, it’s in the Bible.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” (1 Corinthians 12:21)
Just as we suffer physically from a lack of purpose, we also suffer spiritually. Knowing and living God’s purpose is essential to our joy.
Remember the story of my friend? She is now in a nursing home. Her physical and emotional health continue to decline. I won’t reveal her name, the Lord knows. Please pray for her.
Read 1 Corinthians Chapter 12 (Click here for a commentary on 1 Cor. Ch. 12)
- In the chart below, list the spiritual gifts identified in the above passages (include the verse reference next to your answer)
|Romans 12:6-8||1 Corinthians 12:8-10||1 Corinthians 12:28||Ephesians 4:11|
Select one or two gifts from each column and research information for application of gifts you selected. Write a brief description of what you learn.
Finding your joy.
- Answer the following:
What am I good at?
What do I enjoy doing?
2. Referring to the spiritual gifts chart, which gift(s) do you think best fit with your talents and what you enjoy doing?
3. List some ways you can use your gift(s) to serve the body of Christ through your church, your community, and even in your own family.
4. If you haven’t already, read Psalm 103.
5. How do these truths you add to your joy?
- I am created for God’s glory.
- God honors me.
- God has a plan and purpose for me.