Graduation is a happy occasion, an important moment in life, and a big achievement. But, it is also a crucial juncture in life. When I was asked to speak at a baccalaureate service for local high school graduates, my message, quoting John Piper, was simple:
Don’t waste it. Don’t waste your life!
This message is important for us all. I’m sure, however, that wasting your life is not at the top of your to-do list. If you are wasting your life, you probably don’t mean to be!
You might be wondering then—am I wasting my life? How do I know? Well, in order for something to be wasted it must be spent in such a way that it does not accomplish its intended purpose.
Your life does have a purpose. And if you don’t want to waste your life, you need to know what your life is meant for.
Where to Find Your Purpose
The Bible, as God’s word spoken to you, is the place to turn to find your purpose. And I’ll make it even simpler: you can find your purpose in one short verse. 1 Corinthians 8:6 says:
For us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
We are made by God, and we are made for God. That’s the answer. You exist for God. Your purpose is to spend your life for God, with Jesus at the center of everything you are and do. Unfortunately, there are two ways you can fail to do this.
Two Ways to Miss Your Purpose
Way 1: Spend Your Life on Nothing (No God)
I met Chris in 6th grade, and we were friends through high school and even through college. In high school and his early college years, Chris was bright, fun, creative, artistic, and well connected. But later in college, Chris became aimless, isolated, and joyless; one of the last times I talked with him he was stuck in a dead-end job that was not related to any of his talents, education, or his passions.
Over the course of our friendship, we had a few spiritual conversations. Chris was involved in youth band at church, he went on Christian retreats, and once when we were camping he told me that he believed in some higher force or the possibility of a god, but it was clear that Chris had no faith in Jesus Christ.
Chris’s problem was that he hadn’t come to terms with 1 Corinthians 8:5-6. He didn’t know what he existed for, or rather who he existed for. He had no passion for something greater than himself. No vision past the present.
Maybe this describes you, too. A missing purpose, fading passion, a lack of commitment to Christ. Reader, find that passion by spending your life—and spend it for the sake of Christ! Spending it for something else leads up to the second way to miss your purpose:
Way 2: Spend Your Life on The Wrong Things (False gods)
If the first way to miss your purpose is to drift aimlessly with no target, no goal, no purpose, no intentionality, the second way is to be motivated, driven, passionate, and laser-focused on entirely the wrong goals. You can achieve all the wrong goals.
You can attain the American dream, you can climb the corporate ladder, but Jesus tells us that to spend yourself for this is foolishness.
In a brief parable, he tells us about a rich man who had so much stuff he had to build even larger barns to put it all in. He was fat and happy. Living large. But God calls this man a fool because he can’t take these riches with him when he dies. What’s more, all the wealth in the world wouldn’t prepare this man to meet God, because he spent his life serving himself.
Money will be spent, beauty will fade, power will be limited, fame will be forgotten, and entertainment and pleasure-seeking will fail to provide the joy that you long for in life. Don’t miss your purpose in life by spending it on the wrong things!
The Way to Achieve Your Purpose
The good news is that your life has real meaning and purpose, and you’ll find it in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus, God the Son, died in the prime of his life – only 33 years old – never having sinned: not one impure thought, not one hateful word, not one white lie. A life perfectly dedicated to God.
That is a valuable life. A meaningful life. And the Bible says that Jesus laid down his own life for you and me. He sacrificed his perfect, meaningful life so that it could be applied to our imperfect and (seemingly) purposeless lives if we believe in him.
This is what we call the gospel – the good news of Jesus. Jesus spent his life for you so that you could spend your life for him. When you trust Jesus to save you from your sins he will do so, and he will give you a new life with incredible purpose and meaning. And there is great freedom to be found in this good news.
The measure of your life lies not in what you accomplish, or how much wealth you have accumulated, but in what Christ has accomplished, and in the riches of God’s grace. You can exist for God, through Jesus, whether you are mopping floors or marketing pharmaceuticals. In fact, the world needs both floor moppers and pharmaceutical marketers who will spend their lives to display the glory of God in Jesus Christ.
So, how will you spend your life? I pray you will spend it for Jesus.