The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out. ~ Proverbs 20:5
And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” ~Luke 4:42, 43
“A need does not constitute a call.” These are words that ring repeatedly in my heart from the mouth of one of my Seminary professors. He was encouraging me one day because I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. I wanted to fix everyone’s problems, but I did not realize how ineffective I was becoming. I was very busy, but I was not getting much done.
My professor told me that the needs of the World are infinite, but I am finite. Since I have to live in that frustrating reality, I have to make wise decisions about what particular needs I am meant to address. For everything I say yes to, I am also saying no to something else. Knowing my purpose helps me decide when to say yes well.
How well do you know your purpose in life? Why did God put you here? Many people spend their entire lives trying to answer that question, and many people spend their lives being busy while accomplishing nothing. They spend their lives responding to every need that is put before them whether or not it is part of their purpose. So, serving the needs of the people becomes priority, which can quickly turn into people pleasing. Can you imagine how disappointing Jesus must have been to these people in Luke 4:42? They were coming to him because they had needs that were serious enough to interrupt his time of solitude. Can you imagine the pain that made these people so desperate? But, how does Jesus respond to these needs? He leaves town . . .
If I would have been one of those people in that town, I probably would have been hurt because I finally found someone that could fix my problems but he leaves me hanging. Was Jesus callous, uncompassionate, selfish, etc.? Some might think so, but I think it was merely the fact that Jesus was aware of his purpose. He knew that if he fulfilled his purpose, he would maximize the potential to help people, which could inadvertently help the people in this town. It is not always easy saying no when you have the power and you see the need . . . but a need does not constitute a call. Seeing a need does not automatically mean you are called to it. Many people make that mistake and consequently kill their purpose with busyness.
Jesus was willing to leave these people while they were in need because he knew that fulfilling his purpose was the best way to be helpful to anyone. How are you maximizing the help you can give in this life? Every decision we make should point to our purpose. I have often heard some of my Christian friends speak generally about their purpose. They are meant to bring glory to God, fulfill the Great Commission, preach the Word, etc. Yet, they are often speaking in general terms while at the same time doing absolutely nothing productive with their lives. They float from project to project without any real commitment to anything. That is not purpose. Jesus would say often that he came to do the will of his Father (John 4:34, John 6:38), which is a pretty broad purpose statement, but he followed through with the action of dying on the cross for our sins. As the Gospels continue, he becomes increasingly more focused on his purpose and I’m thankful that he did! If Jesus would have just stayed in that town and healed everyone’s problems, I would still be dead in my sins!
Take inventory about the things that have been keeping you busy lately. Are you moving towards something or do you feel like you are on a treadmill, working hard but not going anywhere? Let’s work towards living a life full of purpose