The Meaning of Life and Letting Go of Selfish Pursuits

Does the Bible say anything about the meaning of life? Not specifically.

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms”— 1 Peter 4:19 (NIV).

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When I was a teacher, one of the questions many of my high school seniors struggled with was what to do after graduation. Some were focused, knowing they were on track for college, higher vocational training or military service. Others planned to go immediately to work after school ended, while some struggled with their future choices. Even some of those on a chosen path were often uncertain about choosing a major field of study, basing their decision not on a passion for the career, but on the rewards of a lucrative paycheck.

In later years, when I had an opportunity to visit with some of these graduates, I discovered some were disillusioned with the path they had chosen for the sake of monetary gain. Their career choice left them with an emptiness they couldn’t understand.

In an article titled “Frederick Buechner on Calling: Your Deep Gladness & The World’s Deep Hunger” by Ryan Pemberton, the author writes the following: “In his refreshingly witty spiritual lexicon, ‘Wishful Thinking,’ Buechner points out that the English word ‘vocation’ comes from the Latin word vocare, ‘to call,’ which ‘means the work a person is called to by God.’”

Additionally, says Pemberton, “‘Calling’ assumes a caller. As Buechner notes, for the Christian, this Caller is the living God.”

Concerning vocations, Buechner once said, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

We all hunger for meaning in life, but that meaning can’t be fulfilled with selfish pursuits. In an article, “Four Ways to Find Meaning in Life,” by Derke Beres, he writes, “Only through focusing on others do we build the pillar of belonging for both ourselves and for them. If we want to find meaning in our own lives, we have to begin by reaching out.”

Does the Bible say anything about the meaning of life? Not specifically. But, it does reveal God’s purposes for us. It’s only when we fulfill His purposes for our lives that we can find meaning and satisfaction in living.

If we follow Biblical examples, breaking out of our selfishness to focus on caring for the needs of others, we can find a deep sense of purpose and fulfillment that worldly gratification can never duplicate. We won’t find life’s meaning in getting more, but in giving more.

Each of us has something to give. We’re all endowed by our Creator with gifts to be used for the benefit of others. Whatever gifts we have been blessed with, whether large or small, should be shared generously. It’s only when we accept and fulfill God’s purposes that we will find true meaning and satisfaction in our own lives.

Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “The fact that the One who calls is not a God who creates and then leaves us to figure it out on our own, but a living Lord who calls us anew, daily, to Himself.”

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