This life is not about me, but it's about God and His glory. You can discover your purpose either by speculation or by revelation, and living on purpose is the path to peace. Consider the driving force in your life and how it directs your decisions.
Living Life on Purpose - Week 5
Living Life on Purpose - Week 4
Living Life on Purpose - Week 3
Living Life on Purpose - Week 2
Living Life on Purpose - Week 1
I'm not surprised that we've had this opportunity to gather together and that men want to gather and talk about this topic. It's been said by a lot of men for a long time a lot of different ways that man, specifically, is a stubborn seeker after meaning. We realize that a lot of us, many who are here this morning, feel like they've found what life is all about and the meaning of life and we're just here to redouble our commitment and resubmit our efforts and remind us of what is true.
We also realize there are some folks who are here this morning who aren't sure that they would necessarily agree with what maybe I would tell you the meaning of life is about. We're glad that they're here to consider with us something that we think might affect not just this morning but thousands of mornings as we said before.
We're going to talk as men. We're going to kind of get in the locker room and take the gloves off and just go right at each other and deal with this topic because we feel like you've invested some valuable time with us this morning and so you want to know what it is that we believe will ultimately give life the greatest amount of meaning.
I set this up as a way to get us started with this as a mindset. "What would you have done if you had a chance to do some things over?" I thought about that this year as I look back on 2003, I think Michael Jackson might've had a few less sleepovers. Yeah. Pete Rose tonight is going to tell you that he would've come to the realization that he has come to 14 years ago.
That's what he is going to tell ABC folks tonight when he is interviewed by Charles Gibson and speaks about the fact that he wishes that he'd have done 14 years ago what he is doing tonight. I think he's going to wish 14 years from now that he would've done tonight what he still needs to do, which is to be a little bit more honest than I think we're going to find out that even Pete still is going to be based on what those who are around were saying. "This man is still not dealing with it."
I scribbled down some of those things. Saddam might've agreed to go ahead and step down and not live in a 6-by-3-foot coffin-sized piece of dirt for a while. As you look back at folks who had a chance to do some things over, we could have a lot of fun going through. I have a good little list there.
You might have your own of some things of, "You know what? If I had 2003 to do over, I think I might've…" Do you know what? We're lucky if all we do is look back on 12 months and say, "I'd like to do it over." There are a lot of guys who get to the end of 80 years and they go, "I'd really like a do-over on this one." The problem is when you get to that point in life; you already have 10 more years than on average you were supposed to be given.
So what we want to do this morning is gather most of us toward the median of that number and ask ourselves, "Okay, right now as we have about half of our life left, if we have 20 left, if we have 10 left, if we have 50 left (and none of us know, no matter what our age is), what do I want to make sure I do right so I don't wish I'd have to do over?" That's really what we're going to talk about these next five weeks.
What I would highly encourage you to do if you have not yet picked up a book that we're going to use for you to have in your own personal consideration over these next 40 days… Grab one on the way out. We want to make sure that's available to you. What we're going to encourage you to do… It's going to be like drinking out of a fire hose. It's going to feel that way in the reading. Even though it's only three to four pages a day, sometimes one or so less, sometimes maybe two more on the longest one, but let me encourage you to read one chapter a day.
That's really all this thing needs. Just one chapter a day to consider really what we're going to be talking about here in major pieces for these next five weeks. So grab that book. Use that not as a supplement to what we're doing. What we're going to do here is almost going to supplement what each of us is going to do on our own.
I'm going to just challenge you and encourage you to consider the truth and the claims of truth that are in that book. As much as that book reflects the book to help you consider how you want to do life so later you don't want to think about doing it over. It's been well said. There are lots of guys who have chased lots of things, but you've never seen anybody on their death bed who has lived in surrender to the book, the book that is arrogantly titled the Bible which means literally the book.
There have never been men who have lived with a heart for this book who on their death bed have pushed it away and asked for something else. Yet there's a multitude of men who have given themselves to a lot of things who push away their financial books and say, "I don't want those right now. They're useless to me."
There have been men who have been committed to pleasure and enjoyment. I guarantee you that Hugh Hefner on his death bed is going to want to talk to Billy Graham more than he is going to want to talk to Miss October. Men don't ask for one last copy of Playboy when they come to ultimate things. They come to that which they hope can give them some sense of hope when they realize that this life is more than just these days.
That's what we're going to look at this morning. Let me just come at you with the little deal I put out here. If you didn't bring a pen in here, I certainly understand. I would tell you what I'm going to try and do is synthesize, add some color to, the basic seven chapters that you would read that would go with the week following. If you start the book today and read the first chapter, the first one of 40 chapters in that little book, you'll hear these same ideas brought about, sometimes to the very word. Other times, you'll catch the principles. Here we go.
Here's the first little blank I'll have you there. It starts with God. I'm going to make a case this morning that without God, life doesn't make much sense. What I want to do is like I told you, I'm going to share with you kind of what our perspective is that we feel like the most loving thing that we can do is have this conversation in a way wherever you're coming from in order that you might know as friends we've invested all we could to get you here to share with you.
We wanted to create an environment that would be as nondistracting as possible and provide some food that would encourage you and some men who you could be together with. Then we want to just say, "Hey, look. Thank you for the privilege of sharing with you what we think is going to make our lives something that we look back on and go, 'Man, I'm glad I don't have to do it over. I'm glad that the major principles, that the highway of my life was headed in the right direction toward ultimate meaning, purpose, and satisfaction.'"
Now if you'll flip it over, I want you to just look at the back with me. We're going to read this thing. This is kind of an atheist rebuke. This is a statement that was written by somebody who did not believe what maybe we start out trying to say we believe this morning. Ultimately they're saying, "If I believe as you believe, this is what I'd be about."
Now I'm going to change his words a little bit as we read it. I'm going to change the word religion. You'll be able to catch me how I change it. I'll tell you why I'm going to change it. That's simply because as we think about religion, religion too often puts in people's mind what we do to try and work our way up to God.
That's not ultimately what we're going to talk about here. It's more about God reaching down to involve himself with us. "If I firmly believed," this guy said, "as millions say they do, that the knowledge of a practice of having a relationship with God through Jesus Christ in this life influences destiny in another, then Christ would mean to me everything.
I would cast away earthly enjoyments as dross, earthly thoughts and feelings as vanity. God would be my first waking thought and my last image before sleep sank me into unconsciousness. […] I would esteem one soul gained for heaven worth a life of suffering. Earthly consequences would never stay in my head or seal my lips. […]
I would strive to look upon eternity alone, and on the immortal souls around me, soon to be everlastingly happy or everlastingly miserable. I would go forth to the world and preach to it in season and out of season and my text would be, 'For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?'"
Do you know what is so great about this? This is exactly what the guy who we're going to be ultimately focusing on the most these next five weeks did with his life. He tells us that he has seen what he is calling us by faith to see. That he is God who loves us enough to power himself into our world and to reveal to us what we might not suppose for ourselves. That's exactly what he did.
In the next six weeks, you're going to see some friends in Hollywood who have made a movie called The Passion of the Christ. It's going to show you ultimately what Jesus, who made an audacious claim to not just be some man with a passion, but God with a purpose to reveal his glory. I want to talk about that. I'm going to say this at the end, but I want to say it right now.
It's not about me. It's not about you. This life makes sense only when you see it from the perspective of it not being about you. It's about God and about his glory, but you need to understand this about God's glory. It's not about God seeking glory. It's not as if in some insecurity he wants others to know how great he is. That's not what's going on here at all.
It's about God revealing his glory. It's about him showing who he is, knowing that as others accept who he is, and as he is accepted in the life of those who he is desperate to have relationship with it, will be good for them. When you hear me say, "It's about God's glory," it's not about him getting enough votes to ultimately be elected sovereign. He is sovereign.
In the midst of revealing his glory, he is allowing individuals to choose what to do with him. He knows that the more his glory is revealed, the more they will choose him, and the more those who he has loved will experience what he created them to experience. Now here's what I want to say about this. Again, it starts with God. Without God, life doesn't make much sense.
I want to show you just a few quotes right there still in the back. I put them down there because these are a collection of quotes from all across history about what men have said. Bertrand Russell, a devout atheist, "Unless you assume a God, the question of life's purpose is meaningless." Yet this is a guy who spends all of his life trying to make a case why there is no God. What he really ultimately argues for is life is meaningless.
Next guy, Plato. "…not one of them who took up in his youth with this opinion that there are no gods, ever continued until old age faithful to his conviction…" What I will offer for you is people who don't believe there is a God to do business with are often intellectually inconsistent. There are very few intellectually consistent atheists.
What I mean by that… George Eastman of Eastman Kodak, are you all familiar with him? Anybody know what George Eastman did once he sold basically that empire? He established it. What did he do at the end of that when his business career was done? Does anybody know? He took his life very shortly after that, and he left a short note.
The note said, "To my friends, my work is done—Why wait? GE." "There's nothing else to live for. I've accomplished the pinnacle of success. I sold my company. What's there to live for? The profit of it? That's not worth living for. I'm done." My purpose and meaning in life to establish this incredible company that will bring people joy, maybe in his perspective, but he was an intellectually honest person not believing that there is a reason outside of ourselves to live, and he just said, "I'm done."
Ernest Hemingway was an intellectually consistent atheist because Hemingway, when he got to the point in his life where wine, women, and song could no longer satisfy him and the cost to gain some sense of satisfaction was greater than the benefit of that satisfaction, he just stared down the end of a shotgun.
Because if there's no ultimate meaning in life, if Hemingway is right when he writes this, "Life is just a dirty trick, a short journey from nothing to nothingness." He also said, "There is no remedy for anything in life," and, "Man's destiny in the universe is like a colony of ants on a burning log." If that's the case, when the log is uncomfortable, don't wait for the fire to work its way to you. Run and dive into it. Why suffer at all?
Why live another day when the cost to get some satisfaction or benefit is greater than what you can rationalize and justify with the cost? That's what Plato is saying. He is saying very few men go to the grave holding on to that. Churchill. "Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened." Some of you might be tempted to do that this morning.
In the weeks ahead, you might go, "You know what? I can't really run from the truth that is there. I can't run from the history that verifies it and supports it. What I have to do is ignore it at all costs. Dagnabbit, I knew I didn't want to come here. I certainly don't want to take the book, and if I take the book I don't want to read it, and if I came, I don't want to come next week because the best thing I can do right now… Rather than admit that there has to be a radical change in my life, I'd rather keep doing what I'm doing because I've invested so much to do what I'm doing, and I'll deal with a do-over later."
What Churchill is saying is that it's not uncommon for men to do that. When they stumble over the truth, they're going to pick themselves up and go as quickly as they can in another direction. Shaw writes, "Hegel was right when he said that we learn from history that man can never learn anything from history."
Douglas Adams said, "Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so." We think, "No, I'll be the first one to find peace [meaning, security] and, ultimately, confidence and rest without God, without something transcendent, without something greater than me. I will be satisfied." I think about a couple of stories I'll throw out at you.
A number of years ago now, probably about five, GQ magazine polled its readers and said, "If you could be any man for a week, who would you choose to be?" Who do you think we chose five years ago as a group of men? Not us, but readers of GQ magazine? It was Michael Jordan. We said, "We'd love to be Michael Jordan for a week."
They went to Michael Jordan and they said, "Jordan, can you believe this? Of all the men in the world, if men could be anybody for one week, they would choose to be you." Do you know what Jordan said? "Well, who wouldn't? Who wouldn't want to be me for a week? But make them be me for a year and then see what they say."
See, I thought that was an incredibly insightful line from Jordan. What he is saying is, "Hey, who wouldn't want all the wine, women, song, freedom, and expense accounts and celebrity and privilege that you can get for a week? It's a lot of fun, but at the end of the day if there's not something to undergird you, there's just something else that's missing. Yet you kind of look around and you become a prison of the greatness that you're a part of. There's not the same freedom that's there. Inside, that shell is not full.
Pete Maravich, the guy who was the Michael Jordan of my generation growing up, or really just before it… I caught the tail end of it enough to want to wear his number, 44. It wasn't 23 when I was a kid. It was 44 in the NBA. It was 23 in NCAA. That's why Jordan took it. Maravich was a guy who had success like never before.
When he was a freshman at LSU, they still were not allowing freshman to play varsity Division I sports. People used to go to LSU freshman games and leave when the varsity came, just to watch Maravich. He still got all the NCAA scoring records. Averaged 43 one year, 44 the next two years. Scored 50 points over 28 times in his college career. No one has even come close.
Maravich went on from there to have incredible success in the professional arena, although he never won a championship and was criticized for that. He got into all kinds of mysticism. He got into UFOs, astrology. He looked at every type of world religion you could imagine and was still just a shell of a guy and became a broken man until later in his life. I say later in his life.
Maravich didn't have much of a chance for a do-over. He was in his 30s when it got to a place where he realized that, "There has to be something more than the greatness that I have attained to, that my daddy pushed me to." Maravich's mom committed suicide. He felt responsible for that somehow. Maravich, at one point in his life, and I want to read this to you, got a letter.
Larry King, who you all know was just having another one of his heart surgeries, and Maravich wrote him a letter. It went something like this: "Dear Larry, I'm glad to hear that everything went well with your surgery. I'm enclosing this Bible that is signed and I hope that you read it. I want you to know that I believe God is watching over you every minute. Even though I know that you might question that, one day I'm praying it's going to be revealed to you that he is.
My prayer is that you will remain open and God will touch your life as He did mine. Once I was an unbeliever. When I could not fill my life with basketball, I would simply substitute sex, liquid drugs, or material things to feed my internal shell-like appearance. I was never satisfied. I finally realized, after 40 years, that Jesus Christ in me is the hope that I've been looking for. He will reveal his truth to you, Larry, because he lives."
See, Maravich is one of those guys who just said, "If I had a chance to do it all over, I would work as hard on getting what the ultimate meaning and purpose of life is as I did at basketball." Just before he died, he was speaking publicly and he said, "I would trade every record I have, every basketball success, every victory in a heartbeat for knowing what I know now."
It, frankly, reckoned back to a guy who was in a sense the celebrity of his day who said, "I am a Hebrew of Hebrews, a Pharisee of Pharisees, of the tribe of Benjamin, circumcised the eighth day, and I count all that as loss in light of the surpassing glory of knowing what ultimate life is about and where it is." The guy's name was Paul.
So I say all that because we're going to make a case these next weeks that there is ultimate meaning in life only where Maravich ultimately found it, only where Jordan doesn't yet know where it is, only where Larry King isn't sure where it is yet. Where, by the grace of God, some of us have come to the deep conviction that it is in a relationship with this God who loves us and wants us to know who he is and reveal his glory so we can experience his goodness in a relationship with us.
Plato said, "We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light." Ashleigh Brilliant wrote, "Life may have no meaning, or even worse, it might have a meaning of which I disapprove. Though I might stumble over this truth, I'm going to do all I can to pick up, dust myself off, and run away from it."
I beg you to just stay in here and give it at least five weeks and give this book a good read. I wouldn't recommend this book, except this book is laced with over 1,200 references to the book, and it's been a great simple way for folks to be introduced to where real ultimate meaning and purpose in life comes from.
It starts with God. Without God, life doesn't make sense. You can discover your purpose one of two ways. Either by speculation or you can discover it by revelation. What do I mean by that? Well, you can sit around all day long and you can think about, "Where does life and meaning and purpose come from?"
Confucius is the guy who has said that you find out the method to live life and the meaning of life one of three ways: by reflection, which he says is the noblest. That was Confucius' idea. He says by imitation, which he says is the easiest, or he says by experience, which he says is the bitterest.
In other words, you can live your whole 80 years of life and realize you're going to push that Playboy away or you're going to push that financial greatness away only to say, "All right, by experience I've learned that wherever meaning, life, and peace is, it's not in greatness of career." That's the bitterest way to learn it.
You can imitate somebody, which he says is easiest, or it in his ignorance Confucius thought that he could speculate on it and figure it out. Now I love what Socrates said. Socrates was a guy who considered himself the wisest man in Athens. I'm going to read you this quote. He said, "The ancient Oracle said that I was the wisest of all the Greeks. It is because I alone, of all the Greeks, know that I know nothing." I am only singularly ignorant while the rest of the others are doubly ignorant, twice ignorant, because they think they know, but they still don't know.
Socrates was a philosopher, a lover of wisdom. It was his job to sit and use his insight and creativity to chew through and figure out what truth was. The highest ideal of any philosopher is to hear from God. Plato said until we hear a more sure word from God, we are like a ship that is making its way through the ocean in a storm in the middle of the night, trusting only in the best opinions of men.
His point is there is nothing to navigate by when you're in a ship in the middle of the ocean and a storm at night. The stars are gone, and all we can do is trust the most experienced guy on board who has the most experience to maybe point us in the direction we want to sail, but we really don't know until there's something anchored in the heavens that show us the right way to go.
What a lot of guys do, though, is they go ahead and cover up any light that's been given them and say, "I'm going to speculate and trust my own experience. I'm going to deny the experience of other men who have sailed these seas who have gone further than I can go in this area and have always ended up bitter at the end or hopeless at the end or ultimately shallow and not fulfilled at the end. I'm going to believe I can get where they can't go. Or I'm going to think of ways they can't think and discover new ways."
You can speculate if you want. That's one way to figure out where purpose and meaning come from. The other way is to believe that this God who loves you and it's about him not seeking glory, but revealing his glory, loves you enough to speak into your world and to give you that truth. That's a couple of verses that we looked at right there.
Psalm 119:105. You know it. "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." Confucius was wrong. Reflection is not the noblest. Solomon said that reflection is the most foolish thing you can do, because Proverbs 14 says, "There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death."
In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul wrote, "'THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN…' …the things freely given to us by God…" Go read the whole context of that statement. I would ask you to consider, "Where are you going to find an answer to these questions? How do you live life on purpose? How do you get ultimate meaning?"
You're going to either speculate, trust your life experience to figure it out and maybe wish you had a do-over, or you can humble yourself and go, "I'll take some revelation. I'll look to what's anchored in the heavens and what is true and pure and guide my life by it."
Living on purpose is the path to peace. Thoreau said, "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation." One guy said it takes time to ruin a world, but time is all it takes. I like that statement. In other words, some of you guys go, "Hey, my life isn't that bad yet. I don't know what you're talking about. I don't feel like quiet desperation. I'm still climbing. I'm still getting some of what Jordan has and I like it. I'm not him yet, but I'm headed that way and I've experienced a fraction of what he is for 10 years, and I'll take all of what he is for the next 30, thank you very much."
I'll tell you, it takes time to ruin a life and want a do-over, but time is all it takes. I would offer to you what the Scripture says is you might be like a guy who jumped off a 100-story building who waves at me on the ninetieth floor and says, "All is great with me, man." At the eighty-ninth floor, "Things are still fun. This is a rush like I've never had." Fiftieth floor, same thing. Thirtieth floor, twentieth floor, but I'll tell you what. Sooner or later the reality of your experience is going to catch up with you.
I love with the Asian Indians say. They have a proverb. We've all learned now tigers aren't in Africa. Tigers are in Asia. They have a statement that says, "He who rides a tiger must prepare to dismount." So some of you guys are out there this morning going, "Oh man, you sissy! Come ride the tiger! It's a blast!" I'm going to tell you, "Man, you ride that sucker, but you're going to get off one day. Ask Roy how that is." All right? Speaking of do-overs, right? "Hey, why don't we get rid of the tigers in the magic act? Let's work in puppies for a few weeks."
This life is not all there is. What I want to make a case for is there is more to this life than just this life. John 5:28-29 if you flip it over, there's the verse. This is what Jesus said. "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment." One way or the other, we're all going to live and this life is not all there is.
Your relationship with God on earth will determine your relationship with God in eternity. This is the testimony that says right there in 1 John 5:11. "And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life."
I want you to know it. I want you to have the life. I want you to be sure that when there's a resurrection to life and a resurrection to judgment that you're on the right side of that resurrection and this life is not all there is. What you do with Jesus in this life will determine what God does with you in the life to come.
C.S. Lewis said it this way. "There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,'" Speak into my ear things that men cannot speak. Let my eyes see things that men's eyes cannot see. Let my heart consider things which men's hearts will not consider. Let me anchor myself in that which is true in the heavens and guide my life in that.
"'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.'" "You want nothing to do with my glory that I have revealed? Then I will allow you that for eternity and I will put you someplace where there is nothing that in any way will remotely remind you of the God who you wanted nothing to do with."
See, that has to be your view when you think of hell, when you think of separation from God. That's what hell is. You have to understand that all that is good on this earth: music, beauty, laughter, comfort, those are all a part of the goodness of God. "Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above…"
The Scripture says, "You want nothing to do with that God, who is in his grace right now lets the rain fall on the just and the unjust? One day he will grant you, he will allow in his sovereignty you in your freedom to not choose him, though he in his grace is calling you to come." I know from that book that if his grace didn't call me to come, I would never choose to come.
He draws you this morning. This is even evidence of his grace today: getting you to have the desire to come and listen to some guy who maybe you've never heard before to just give you a chance to consider again the glory of God that is being revealed to you because he loves you and wants you to have the goodness that is his grace. He can deal with that which, in you and in me, deserves to be separated from all that is good.
Only a fool lives life unprepared for what he knows will happen eventually. Quick story. One of my favorite little parables about a guy who had many different workers. One in particular he was very fond of, but this guy was an idiot. He was such a fool that he gave him a stick. He said, "You are the biggest fool I've ever met. I love you, but you're a fool. I want you to carry this stick with you because you're the biggest fool I've ever met, and if you ever find somebody who is a bigger fool than you, give them this stick."
For decades, that friend servant of his carried that stick everywhere he went. He never let go of it and always had it. Then word got around that this master was old and dying and he was calling individuals to him. He called a number of different servants, those whom he loved especially, including this friend who had the stick.
The friend came and said, "Master, they told me to come. They told me you wanted to see me." He said, "That's right." Then he told his friend this way because he didn't think he could understand talking to him like he did most folks. The master said, "Hey, I'm going away." He said, "Master, where are you going?"
"I'm going on a journey."
"You're going on a journey? Do you know where you're going on the journey?"
"No, I'm really not sure where I'm going on this journey."
"Well Master, do you know what's necessary for you to have in order for this journey to be successful and pleasant?"
"No, I really don't."
"Well Master, how long have you known that you're going on this journey and you don't know what it takes to be successful and have what you want on this journey?"
"Well, I've known my whole life that this journey was coming."
"You've known your whole life that this journey was coming, you have no idea yet what it takes to be successful on this journey, and you have no idea what will give you comfort when you get there on this journey?"
The guy looked at him and said, "Master, your stick."
That's really what I'm saying today, guys. Let me just tell you something. I had a friend here this morning who I know just went through some pretty serious surgery to deal with some cancer in him. We were just talking very briefly about how when you get to places like that, what matters and what doesn't matter is easily distinguished, isn't it? It's really easy.
I've been at the bedside of guys who are (if it matters) literally worth hundreds of millions or billions of dollars when they're at that moment. There is no discussion about their planes, about their privilege, and about their place. They want comfort. Some of them have never considered the journey they're about to go on. Many of them, because they've been so full of distractions their whole life.
You want to look at them and go, "For a very wise man who was very successful in this world, here's your stick, but the grace of God wants you to hear one more time about his glory. You've missed experiencing the goodness of his glory on this earth. Don't miss it in the one to come." At those moments, what matters and doesn't matter…
Some of us this morning are in very good health and, man, I'm so glad, but let me just tell you. Good health is merely the slowest possible means by which you can die. That's all that is. You know that. I say that to you because every one of us is headed the same way, and you have to fill it in. Only a fool lives their life so convinced that they're healthy that they deny what will eventually happen to them.
How you view life determines how you live. What do I mean by that? Man, if you view life as a party, what are you going to do? You're going to go, "If life is a party, you're going to live for all the fun you can." Epicurus, right? If life is a battle, then you're going to seek the win, to conquer, to do everything you can to get ahead.
If you view life as a race, then you're going to get as far as you can as quickly as you can so you can go further than anybody who has gone before. If life is a marathon for you, then you're going to seek to endure, to survive. What is your picture of life? How you view life determines how you live, but too many of us live life based on a faulty life metaphor.
What I mean by that is when we start to think what our lives are ultimately about, we think of it as a battle. I have to win. We think of it as a race in a sense that it's just a race on this earth. Let me just tell you something that's really encouraging. Do you know why so many men reject the book and reject the life that I'm talking about?
Because the Christian has been made such an effeminate thing that most men go, "I'll tell you what. I don't want that. I want to live for the party. I want to live for the battle. I want to live for the victory. I want to live for the race." I want to tell you something. When you look at the metaphors of Scripture, that's exactly the metaphors that are there, but it's a different race than we think that we're in.
It's a different battle that most men try to win, a much more significant, enduring battle, a much greater race, a much more important marathon that's not based on 70 years, but on eternity. That which you think you have to abandon God to get, I'm telling you, you can't get it like you can get it anywhere else until you're in that race, that battle with him.
I know why that's attractive to want to conquer and become the greatest. God says, "I want you to get through great, but come with me. This is where real life is. You want real purpose, you want real meaning, you want real challenge, you want a hill you can never climb, but the view gets better and better? Come. Follow me." Too many of us have our lives based on a faulty life metaphor.
I just throw out a question for you to wrestle with today. What do you think is driving you? What would your family or friends say is ultimately the driving force in your life? Is it resentment and anger? Is it fear? Is it insecurity? Is it desire for greatness? Is it the need for approval? What ultimately is making you move forward in life? I would ask you and I would tell you what drives you tells us a lot about who you are. Now let me just tell you this is what ought to drive you. We can do this fairly quickly. Here we go.
Life is a test. That's what God said. He wants you to flip this thing over. Look at what it says in James 1:12. "Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial…" I put in parentheses right there. The translations don't say it this way. Blessed is the man who passes the test. "…for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him."
In other words, the Scriptures are saying that, "Look, God is wanting to see who the faithful are, and he is watching to see who is faithful with a little that they might be faithful with much." As a guy, don't you love the challenge of a test? Don't you want to win? Don't you want to do the right thing? Don't you want to be bigger than your circumstance? Don't you want to be more than your desires?
The Scripture says that's the deal. It also says that… I know that this is hard for some of us to believe because some of us feel like we're so drawn in our flesh toward certain things that there's no way we can pass the test. The Scriptures tell us that God never gives us a test. No test has come against you that isn't common to every man in such a way that with that test, he'll provide the opportunity for victory so that you might be able to endure it and receive the crown that he wants you to receive. Not just in the life to come, but the quality of life right now. Life is a test.
Life is also a trust. It's something that God gives us that we have to invest well. Man, we love to operate in business and industry and be good stewards of shareholders' money and of that which we have. The Bible makes it very clear. Look, let me just tell you something. You want a real trust? You got it. For me, it's July 5, 1963 – I'm not sure what the other date is going to be, but that which I've had entrusted to me is that dash. What you have entrusted to you is that dash, not those two dates, but what you do with that dash in the middle. Life is a trust.
I asked you these two questions. What test are you facing in your life right now? How can you face it with the hope that you can get on the right side of it and experience the life that God wants you to experience right now? Secondly…what's the greatest thing entrusted to you today that you have to use well?
I was talking to a guy last night who just in the last 12 months his life is radically changed and that which guides his life is totally different than what used to. He told me, and I know this guy extremely well. For obvious reasons because if I told you how well I knew him you would know who it is and I don't want to do that, but this guy I've watched for a lot of years.
He told me just last night as we were talking, he said, "Todd, I used to make my decisions at my office on what would bring me the most money, because I thought the more money I had, the more I would have life." I know what's happening in this brother's life over the last 12 months. He said to me, "I just had an incredible conversation about two weeks ago with some of the folks in my office. They told me I have to be at that meeting.
I made a decision I'm going to do some stuff with my kids. I'm going to coach. I'm going to be involved in their lives. I said, 'I'm not going to go to that particular meeting. I'll make sure I get my work somewhere else, but you're not going to throw that meeting on when I've had this scheduled in a reasonable time and I'm not going to come to that meeting.' They said, 'You're coming to that meeting or else.'" This guy said, "Or else what? Or else what?"
Can you imagine that? This is a guy who was always about making sure that company gave him more of the options that he could have. Elevate him more. He just said, "I don't want that next job. Or else what? You're going to get rid of me? That guy who just brought you that business? That's fine. Get rid of me. I'll tell you what. If I go to that meeting, I'm not going to be the dad who I want to be. Or else what?"
He said it was dead silent on the other end of that phone. They expressed to him their incredible displeasure. They reminded him that they would remember that. He said, "Guess what? The meeting went off without a hitch. They called me and said, 'This is what we did. This is what we need you to do.' He said, "I'll take it. I have it covered." And everything is fine. But this young man's kids are finer because they see something in that guy's life.
I love this statement. "But no man will ever rise above the opinion of his children." This life is a trust. What has been entrusted to you this day that you want to use well? Life is a temporal assignment. This world is not your life. This isn't it. This is the dot, man. There's a line here, and you're just a dot on a line in this life. This world is just a temporal assignment.
Death is not the end of life; it's an eternally fixed beginning. It's an eternally fixed beginning, and what you do with this life will determine the eternal life that is coming. Think of eternal life right now in terms of capacity to enjoy life now, not just quantity of life that you will get later. Just flip it over.
That's why Ecclesiastes 7:2 is that verse right there at the bottom. "It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, because that is the end of every man, and the living takes it to heart." What he is saying is, "Only a fool lives life unprepared for what he knows will happen eventually." Here we go then.
What does God want? God wants you to know that you can experience the most of life when you know the most about him. This is the last blank. God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. A guy named John Piper said that a bunch, and he has kind of coined that phrase. He just takes it right from Psalm 73. "Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth."
In other words, "There's nothing on earth that when I really see you for who you are is worth betraying you for. If I knew who you were, I'd never fail a test. I'd always be handling what's entrusted to me well and I would know that I'm on temporal assignment." God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.
I leave you with this. Man, you read those seven chapters this week and realize that when God wants you to be satisfied in him, this life is not about you. It's about God revealing his glory. Not just in the creation that we see out these windows but the creation that sits in this room. God is glorified when we become others-centered men.
Not self-dependent, self-glorifying men who manipulate and abuse those around us to live life on our terms but reflect his glory by having others' interest in mind, even as he had our interest in mind when he went through the passion of the cross to deal with that which kept us from him. I would ask you this morning to consider this God like you never have before, to be more committed.
Those guys who came in this morning knowing that this God exists, to win the battle, to pass the test, to be faithful with what you've been entrusted, to live in light of eternity. If that's not where you're coming from before you came here this morning, consider it in light of mourning, not feasting. Because that's the reality and the end of every man.
God's glory is not about him seeking it. It's about you knowing it. When God's greatness is most fully revealed, it is well with us. That's why we pray, "Lord, may your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. May the veil be taken back, and may we all know you as we are fully known because then we will live in the face of every test faithfully.
We will take care to be faithful with all that we've been entrusted with, and we'll know that eternity exists. Until then, he calls us to consider it by the revelation he gives to us and respond to it in faith. Enjoy your seven chapters. We would delight in spending another 45 minutes with you next week. Let me pray for us.
Father, thanks for these men. Thank you for the way that the logistics of this morning worked out. Thank you that we can consider truth together and that we can love each other even if we disagree. I pray that there is no man in this room who in any way would anticipate that if they don't agree with us at the end of these five weeks that we would love them less. Because if that's the case, then we don't reveal your goodness and glory, because it's while we were yet sinners that you died for us, pursued us, and loved us.
So I hope that men who are here this morning who are not believing or embracing this truth that we've talked about and will talk about more… I pray that they don't see them as projects in our eyes, but they know that they are friends whom we love who, like this atheist that he believed will live, we try and live before them.
I pray, Lord, that we be more faithful with our tests and with what we've been entrusted with and in light of eternity so that they might believe that you are real. We know ultimately it's going to come by the way we love them and love each other. So may your glory be revealed in that, and may you reveal yourself to us as we reflect on your Word each of us in our own reading this week. I pray this in the name of the one who loves me, Jesus, for the good of the friends here, Lord, that you love so desperately. In Christ's name, amen.
You all have a great week.
Self-help books often suggest that you try to discover the meaning and purpose of your life by looking within yourself, but until you begin with God's reasons for creating you, life will never make sense. So where does real purpose come from and what does it look like? Find out as the men of Watermark study "The Purpose Driven Life" and look at over 1,500 places from God's Word where He answers this question.