What Purpose Is There in Living?
DID you know that throughout the world more than ten thousand persons commit suicide every day? Multiply this by 365 and the yearly figure is astounding. It is greater than the entire population of many cities. What is leading so many people to such a desperate state of mind? Has life become a purposeless vacuum for them? Have they lost all sense of obligation to themselves, to their fellowman, to God who is their Creator?
It is recognized that having a purpose in life is essential to the well-being of man. Some have the purpose of doing good to others, treating them kindly and generally being helpful. Some make it their purpose in life to have a good time, enjoy themselves, engrossing themselves in pursuits of pleasure. Some view working toward the goal of financial security as their purpose in life. Others center their life around their home and family. But judging from the lack of true happiness among people with such goals, it is evident that there is something defective about these goals as the main purpose for living. A loftier purpose is needed. What loftier purpose is there than that which man’s Creator has set before man?
God’s Word, the Bible, shows that our true purpose in living should be the doing of his divine will. This is how the wise man Solomon stated it: “Fear the true God and keep his commandments. For this is the whole obligation of man.” (Eccl. 12:13) That the doing of God’s will is indeed the “whole obligation of man” is what Simon Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, wrote to the early Christians: “Since Christ suffered in the flesh, you too arm yourselves with the same mental disposition; because the person that has suffered in the flesh has desisted from sins, to the end that he may live the remainder of his time in the flesh, no more for the desires of men, but for God’s will. For the time that has passed by is sufficient for you to have worked out the will of the nations when you proceeded in deeds of loose conduct, lusts, excesses with wine, revelries, drinking matches, and illegal idolatries.”—1 Pet. 4:1-3.
Since our purpose in living should be “no more for the desires of men, but for God’s will,” it is imperative that we learn what God’s will is. That is not something that can be determined simply by the conscience of each individual, or by custom, or by what a “Sunday-school” teacher says. Nor is God’s will always learned by parental training. God has provided for our instruction on his will through the pages of the inspired Bible, and wise persons will make this Book their constant companion and guide.
Certainly the Bible shows that God’s will is that we should “fear the true God,” Jehovah, rather than men. (Luke 12:4, 5) It shows that we should “keep his commandments.” God’s commandments relate to our conduct and activity, which he requires to be holy. In fact, the apostle Peter, at the beginning of his first letter, stressed being holy in all one’s conduct because this is the will of God: “As obedient children, quit being fashioned according to the desires you formerly had in your ignorance, but, in accord with the holy one who called you, do you also become holy yourselves in all your conduct, because it is written: ‘You must be holy, because I am holy.’” (1 Pet. 1:14-16) That means the divine will for man is a life set apart for living according to God’s holy standard of righteousness. So one who does God’s will cannot be running in the way of this ungodly system of things. The time past in a person’s life when doing the will of the nations, Peter said, has been enough, too much, in fact; from the time he begins to pursue the right purpose in living he should buy out time and use it, together with his strength and energy formerly spent on doing the will of men, in doing God’s will.
Peter also said that one who wants to do God’s will must arm himself. With what? “The same mental disposition” that Jesus Christ had. What a protection that is against this ungodly system of things, against despondency, unhappiness and purposeless living! To arm oneself with the mental disposition of Jesus Christ, one must learn about what Jesus taught—the kingdom of God. The one doing God’s will will put that kingdom foremost in his life, just as Jesus did, obeying his commandment: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things [material needs] will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:33) Then we will embrace the sure hope of everlasting life by means of God’s kingdom and Christ’s ransom sacrifice, which he provided by laying down his perfect human life.
Part of the Christian’s purpose in living should be to teach God’s will to others; certainly that involves teaching others about the kingdom of God established in the heavens and how it will bring blessings to all obedient mankind. Yes, it is God’s will that all true Christians recommend to others God’s message of salvation by means of Jesus Christ through his heavenly kingdom, which will make possible a righteous new order of things.
When Jesus Christ was on earth he stated his purpose in living this way: “For this I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.” (John 18:37) This was the purpose around which his activities were molded. He recommended God’s will to all with whom he came in contact who were humble and desirous of learning the right purpose in life. To live up to Jesus’ standard is not easy, but each individual has the responsibility to do what he can in praising God in such a way that others will learn God’s will. God is not unreasonable; he accepts our sincere efforts to live up to his requirements.
So it is important to do all we can in carrying out the good purpose of ‘fearing the true God and keeping his commandments,’ living “no more for the desires of men, but for God’s will.” Then we will have the right purpose in living and be in line for a future of eternal happiness under God’s kingdom.