30 April 2009

Cheating the Thief Part 6: Purpose

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2.10)
Message 6 in a 7-part series for men entitled "Cheating the Thief" examines the tricky territory of developing a specific sense of purpose or calling as a man. It's tricky because "purpose" can be an idol or a bane. Some men will develop a sense of purpose and, then, jettison any daily dependence on God making achievement their idol. Some men overanalyze every step and find themselves paralyzed in making any decision. Their lack of confidence in God's sovereignty creates anxiety and, unclear in their direction, these men waste their lives idling in neutral.

A survey of the Bible reveals that God gives men common purpose and unique purpose. Men share the common purposes of doing good works (Matthew 5:16 and Titus 3:8,14) and contributing to the building of God's living temple, the church (Eph 3:19-20,21-22 and 1 Peter 2:5). While we all long (rightly) for a sense of unique identity and purpose, these common purposes should not neglected. They provide tremendous clarity to our daily decisions.

When it comes to our specific calling, God doesn't give all the answers at once. He reveals only what is required for each new decision. God revealed the unique purpose of biblical characters like Abraham, Moses, Peter and Paul over a lifetime of prayer, obedience, and community. Because it is revealed to us and not created by us, finding our unique purpose has more to do with a clear conscience than divining God's plans. As sin deadens our sensitivity to God and destroys our judgment, we should fear the blinding forces of sin over the "missed opportunity" of less-than-best decision.

Take, for instance, a new vocational opportunity. Are there a number possible benefits but you (and those around you) are uneasy about it? Maybe it requires more time than you can give while keeping other things in balance. Maybe it will require you to compromise your convictions. If your conscience isn't at peace then the decision is not from faith and is, therefore, sin (Romans 14:23). A man willing to shortcut the promises of God (Gal 6:9) and compromise his conscience will find only anxiety and confusion. Conversely, a praying man, in community, who confidently (2 Tim 1:7) lets his conscience guide his decisions will grow in wisdom and find himself in God's will.

"How do I know I am in God's will - that I'm doing what I am supposed to be doing?"
This is a common question among men and, before we pull out the tea leaves, we should start by pursuing our common purposes and seeking to throw off the sin which so easily entangles us (Hebrews 12:1). Mighty confidences are built out of these humble beginnings.

Additional Resources
Just Do Something by Kevin De Young
The Purpose of Man by A.W. Tozer


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