What Is Purpose? And Where Do I Find It?
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
I love this quote by Emerson. I read it immediately melt into the good nature of his words. To be useful, honorable, compassionate, and simply have it all make a difference in the world. If we’re asking the question, what is the purpose of life and where do I find it, quotes like these provide the affirmation most of us are looking for. Yet, with all that they affirm, have you ever wondered if they are missing the mark?
I did a google search earlier this month and asked, “what is the purpose of life?’ I wanted to see what answers were being thrown out there. Emerson’s was one but the next quote that popped up in my google search was one by Eleanor Roosevelt,
“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for a newer and richer experience.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt
As an artist and lover of words, I appreciate Eleanor’s Roosevelt’s description of life in her quote. It’s exciting. “to experience the utmost…newer and richer…” It sounds good but leaves me asking one question. Where does God fit into all of this? What does He as our Creator have to say about purpose?
Why Did God Create Me?
If you don’t believe in God the answer to “what is my purpose” is simple. It becomes similar to those described by Emerson and Roosevelt; to do good and enjoy life. If you do believe in God, specifically as our Creator, it only makes sense to search out what He says about who you are and why He created you. Let’s start by examining Genesis 1:26.
“Then God said, “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…”
There’s more to Genesis 1:26 but I want to stop here to point out one ABSOLUTE thing about your purpose and where to find it. Ready for it? God did not create you and THEN give you a purpose and identity. He created you WITH purpose embedded in your very soul. From day one, you were created to mirror your Creator. That’s what it means to be created in God’s image and likeness We were made to reflect who He is and what He calls good.
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What Is the Point of Being Made In God’s Image?
This is one of those answers we find in the Bible that kind of seems out-dated. Thousands of years ago God made mankind. He made them in His image. What do I do with that today? Why does it matter? Believe it or not, understanding this tidbit about your purpose will help you understand the climate of this world and how we got where we are today. So hang with me, ok?
Being made in God’s image means that God intended for us to live like Him; to take on His character. It is an inherent call to righteousness. One of two things happen when we understand this:
1. We accept it and commit to living as He lives (righteously) and loving like He loves (unconditionally).
2. We oppose it and make choices for our own fulfillment.
Here’s the thing about option #2. It doesn’t always seem inherently evil. Its as if there is a middle ground in there somewhere and a majority of the world is coasting on it. The reality is, that middle ground that so many are wavering on doesn’t exist. Removing God from the equation is the equivalent of abandoning all that purpose He knit within you; because our purpose is to reflect Him.
The one who taught us to question the purpose of life.
There was a time when this way of living was the way to live. As a result of that perfect union between God and mankind life was perfect. There wasn’t sickness or disease, hate or discord, fear, or chaos. The world was at peace.
And then it wasn’t. What happened? One created by God stepped outside of who he was and what he was created for. We see this described in Ezekiel 28:12-16,
“…Thus says the Lord God: “You were the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes Was prepared for you on the day you were created.
“You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones.
You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you.
“By the abundance of your trading You became filled with violence within, And you sinned; Therefore I cast you as a profane thing Out of the mountain of God; And I destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the fiery stones.
This is the story of Lucifer, one created by God to lead the heavens in worship. He was righteous until he chose to be otherwise. And that choice caused him to miss out on everything He was created for.
How he popped the question.
We like to pretend that Lucifer’s influence stopped there but it didn’t. He wanted God’s kingdom. He wanted a throne and if He couldn’t find kingship in heaven He was determined to find it someplace else. Enter, the garden of Eden, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the delectable fruit, and the one named Eve.
My guess is you already know that story but if not, you can read about it my article at One Determined Life. It explains how sin entered the world, how it affected mankind, and how the gospel affects who we are and what we were created for.
What’s interesting to note about this story is how the devil got Eve to doubt her sufficiency in God. He dealt Eve the same card that caused Him to face plant.
He planted a seed of doubt – “…Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” Genesis 3:1
He spoke to her pride – “…Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4-5
And she listened – “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate…” Genesis 3:6
AND lead her husband to do the same – “…She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.” Genesis 3:6
And sin entered the world initiating a battle that affects more than just the pleasantries of life but the very purpose of life.
The Devil Wants to Disrupt Your Purpose
That is the moment EVERYTHING changed. Our purpose became something we had to fight for instead of something we simply walked in. It’s still sown into our being, but the influences of sin in our lives make those waters harder to navigate. Many of us are daily fighting the same battle even “lost” with the devil. We want to know what we’re missing out on by clinging to God’s way of living. We’re curious about what we could make of ourselves by adapting to the customs, traditions, and values of this world; not realizing that the moment we go that route we are further from our purpose than ever before.
Walking in purpose requires humility. It requires us to set aside our own wants and ambitions to pick up the things God calls righteous and holy.
He created us to be holy people (Leviticus 11:44 and 1 Peter 1:16), keepers of this Earth (back to Genesis 1:26) and He wanted us to spread this way of living (Genesis 1:28) so that the world and those in it would never know that weight of sin and brokenness but instead experience the blessing of uninterrupted union with God.
We may have to fight for union today but because of the gospel, we can still experience it.
We may have to fight to walk in purpose today, but because of God’s grace, we can still accomplish it.
How to Walk In Your God-Given Purpose
There is nothing more important in this world than having a relationship with God and knowing that He created you for a purpose. This is a conversation that can’t be summed up in a single blog post, so we invite you to join our email community where we’ll share free video discussions, printable resources, Bible reading plans, PLUS behind that scenes and exclusive updates on my upcoming book “Purposed: Inspiring Women to Make the Move from Passively Loving God to Actively Pursuing Purpose In Him”.
Hi friends! I’m Alonda Tanner; an Alaska Grown author and educator, with an ever-growing love for Jesus, books, and sparkling cider. In addition, I love serving the world by creating free education and resources that inspire women to embrace their God-given identity and live purpose-driven, faith-filled lives. I’m a firm believer that it all starts with digging into the Word. Ready to venture into a richness of the Bible? Join our Bible Study community and I’ll send you our most well-loved resources – our Bible study Highlighting Key – for free!