[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]
We . . . are being transformed into [Christ’s] image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. —2 Corinthians 3:18
Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life has had an unbelievable run on the best-seller lists. Its phenomenal appeal reminds us that believers and nonbelievers alike have a deep longing for a clear sense of purpose. We all want to know that our lives are involved in something worthwhile. Without a strong sense of calling and purpose, life is nothing more than routine busyness.
Being a follower of Jesus gives us a distinct advantage when it comes to having a sense of purpose. The Westminster Catechism sums it up well when it says the “chief end of man” is to “glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”
Glorifying God means putting His character, His will, and His ways into action in all that we do. The apostle Paul reminded us that we “are being transformed into [Christ’s] image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18). The purpose of our lives is to let others see what God is like as they watch and experience His love through us.
What a profound privilege it is to mirror God’s love, mercy, grace, justice, and righteousness to a world whose heart is “veiled” to God’s truth! (2 Cor.4:3-4). Our purpose is to show others less of us and more of Him. That’s living on purpose with a purpose!
So let our lips and lives express
The holy gospel we profess,
So let our words and virtues shine
To prove the doctrine all divine. —Watts
The Christian’s purpose is to promote God’s plan.
Beware of Criticizing Others
Jesus’ instructions with regard to judging others is very simply put; He says, “Don’t.” The average Christian is the most piercingly critical individual known. Criticism is one of the ordinary activities of people, but in the spiritual realm nothing is accomplished by it. The effect of criticism is the dividing up of the strengths of the one being criticized. The Holy Spirit is the only one in the proper position to criticize, and He alone is able to show what is wrong without hurting and wounding. It is impossible to enter into fellowship with God when you are in a critical mood. Criticism serves to make you harsh, vindictive, and cruel, and leaves you with the soothing and flattering idea that you are somehow superior to others. Jesus says that as His disciple you should cultivate a temperament that is never critical. This will not happen quickly but must be developed over a span of time. You must constantly beware of anything that causes you to think of yourself as a superior person.
There is no escaping the penetrating search of my life by Jesus. If I see the little speck in your eye, it means that I have a plank of timber in my own (see Matthew 7:3-5). Every wrong thing that I see in you, God finds in me. Every time I judge, I condemn myself (see Romans 2:17-24). Stop having a measuring stick for other people. There is always at least one more fact, which we know nothing about, in every person’s situation. The first thing God does is to give us a thorough spiritual cleaning. After that, there is no possibility of pride remaining in us. I have never met a person I could despair of, or lose all hope for, after discerning what lies in me apart from the grace of God.
Babies and Bathwater
From: Our Daily Journey
A woodcut illustration in a German book from 1512 depicts a woman tossing out a baby along with wastewater from a bucket. This is the first known use of the idiom, “Throwing the baby out with the bathwater.” Some say this phrase came from the idea of a family sharing bathwater (from oldest to youngest) until, finally, the last one—the baby—could barely be seen in the dirty water. Whether this story is true or not, we can be grateful for the invention of modern plumbing!
Unfortunately, “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” is something like what I did when it came to honoring the idea of Sabbath-like rest in my life. During college, I remember reading Isaiah 1 and being shocked at the way God describes the Sabbath and other religious observances, calling them meaningless, detestable, and even disgusting (Isaiah 1:13). I used this verse to come to the conclusion that the Sabbath had little value for me, and that it was theologically acceptable to neglect the rest and refreshment found through spending time with Him.
But if you read this chapter carefully, you see that God doesn’t despise the Sabbath in itself. The reason He wouldn’t hear Israel’s prayers was because the people were guilty of injustice (Isaiah 1:15). So it’s not the Sabbath that God hates, but the Sabbath without the pursuit of justice. Isaiah says that the Sabbath still holds great value, especially as one of the main ways in which people are identified as believers in God (Isaiah 58:13).
Though we no longer need to celebrate the Sabbath as a legal requirement (Colossians 2:16), the idea of Sabbath rest still holds tremendous value for us. In a culture where we’re constantly busy and stressed, it’s nothing less than a gift from God. May we take time to rest today in the Lord of the Sabbath—Jesus Himself (Matthew 12:8).