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12 Choosing A Life Objective


Webster defines an objective as “an aim end of action; a point to be reached.” An ancient proverb states, “He who aims at nothing hits it.” We need a life aim or objective.

Your life can be represented by a straight line which has as its origin your birth and an arrow on the opposite end indicating the unknown time of your death. None of us knows how long he will have in this life, but for the sake of discussion, say you have lived 20 or so years and you have approximately 40 years left.

Here is the question: When you come to the end of those 40 years, and you nothing but death to look forward to and nothing but memories to look back on, what will you need to see in order for you to come to the conclusion, “My life was a success?”

I suggest that you are not ready to live those 40 years until you have answered that question. Until then, your life is without direction, aim, or objective. Make sure you answer that question in specifics, because the more specific you are , the better chance you have of hitting your objective.

The Lord Jesus was able to answer positively. He said, “I have glorified Thee on the earth; I have finished the work which Thou gave Me to do” (John 17:4, italics added). Twice in the ministry of the Lord Jesus, He said, “ It is finished.” Once He said it on the cross, and that obviously refers to the work of redemption. But earlier He was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane when He said, “It is finished.” There He was referring to His ministry. Over 40 times in John 17, He refers to His disciples . . . they were His ministry. Repeatedly He makes reference to these 12 men who occupied three years of His life. And in that context, He says, “I have finished the Work you gave Me to do”. In essence, the Lord Jesus was looking God the Father in the face and saying, “O God, all that You had on Your heart for my life, I did.”

When you come to die, will you be able to look God Almighty in the eye and say, “O Father, all that You had on Your heart for my life, I have accomplished. I finished the work You gave me to do”? if you cannot in integrity of heart answer yes, then whatever the price, I would strongly urge you to bring your life into alignment so that you can.

Another man who was able to claim this kind of success was the Apostle Paul. “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but to all them also that love His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:7-8). Just previously he stated, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand” (v. 6). When your time of departure is at hand, will you say with the Apostle Paul, “I have finished the race; I have done what You wanted me to do”?

When I was in college, I was looking for purpose, for meaning, for reality in my life. A giant void existed inside me. I could not put my finger on it; I did not know what it was; but I knew that the void existed. Then I met Bob, who suggested the void could be filled by the person of Jesus Christ. That God Almighty was willing to enter my life and take up residence was a brand new concept to me.

As I listened to Bob explain the scriptures, I thought to myself, Henrichsen, you’d be an idiot if you turned that offer down. Here is God—the Creator, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, the one who threw the stars into space and made everything that is—willing to enter into your life and take up residence!

So, that night in Bob’s living room I got on my knees, prayed, and received Christ. I only faintly comprehended what I was doing, but when I got up, I was a changed individual, and I have never been the same since.

The void was filled.

I began to ask questions: What really count in life? What is really important? For what should I give my life? At the same time, I made an intensive search in the Bible for an answers.

Then I came across 2 Peter 3:10: “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” (NASB). It was the last phrase that got me: will be burned up.

I was an engineering major. The reason I was majoring in engineering was that I had previously worked on a construction gang in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It was tough work, and I for one did not like tough work. Every so often I would see the engineers go by, and they did not appear to be working very hard. They would finger their slide rules, and I would think, They’ve got the right job! I decided that I would be an engineer too so that I could walk around, slide rule in hand, and tell other people what to do.

My objective—to be a civil engineer and build bridges, dams, and roads, lasted until I ran across 2 Peter 3:10. What a shock, then, to realize that everything I planned to build, God would come along and destroy! I want you to know, that discouraged me. Good grief! I did not want to build the bridge if God was going to destroy it. It was not worth it. Why give all my time and effort to build something which God had already said that He would burn?

As I continued my study, I became even more discouraged. I read, “But Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be there with content” (1 Tim. 6:6-8). This picture emerged: I come into the world empty-handed; I build bridges and dams; God follows behind the burns them down; and when I leave the world, I leave it empty-handed. What a depressing scene!

So, I prayed, “God, I don’t want to give my life to nothing. Why pour 70 years into something and then discover You will burn it, and leave me empty-handed?”

Surely there must be some purpose, some meaning, some direction for life. Surely there must be something God is not planning to burn. I continued my quest in the Scriptures. By His grace, I found two enduring things to which I could give myself.

I found the first in John 5:28-29, which says, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, to the resurrection of life; and they have done evil, to the resurrection of damnation.” In the resurrection at the end time, who is going to come forth? They that have done good and they that have done evil. Everybody is going to live forever.

I have talked to people who say they do not believe in the resurrection. They do not want to be resurrected. I say, “Too bad, friend; you are going to be resurrected whether you want to be or not.”

I have heard people say, “Maybe I will just be a bad guy and then God will annihilate me, and that’s it.” Bad guys and good guys alike are going to be resurrected. For better or for worse, people last forever.

The second thing that last forever is mentioned in Isaiah 40:8: “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God shall stand forever.” God says, “The grass and the flowers are going to die but not My Word.” There are other eternal things—God, angels, virtues such as love—but wanted something enduring that I could grab hold of and give my life in exchange for. In setting my life’s objectives, I could give myself to people and the Word of God, and know that God was not going to follow me and burn them up. He has gone on record that they are eternal. And Jesus said, “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man shall give to you, for on the Father, even God, has set His seal” (John 6:27, NASB).

This doesn’t mean a person should not be a teacher, housewife, businessman, or even an engineer. To be involved in such a vocation may be the perfect will of God for your life. But God forbid that you should give your life in exchange for it!

The Apostle Paul made tents for a living. If you had bought one of them, I am sure you would have had a good piece of equipment. Paul himself said, “And whatsoever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not to men” (Col. 3:23). But note that Paul did not have as his life objective to become the largest tent manufacturer in the Roman Empire. Rather, he invested his life in people.

Another verse really motivates me. “For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance” (Deut. 32:9). You and I know people who are waiting for someone to die so they can gain their inheritance. God Almighty can choose His inheritance—anything He wants. If it doesn’t exist, all He has to do is speak, and it comes into existence. “By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth” (Ps. 33:6). So what does He choose? People! His people! Fantastic!

Out of everything that is or might be, God Almighty has chosen people for His inheritance. With that in mind, consider Isaiah 43:4: “Since you are precious in My sight, since you are honored and I love you, I will give other men in your place and other peoples in exchange for your life” (NASB). Though Israel is the subject here, and God speaks of giving others for Israel’s sake, the principle can apply to us also. That is, our lives may be given for the sake of some person who is a chosen vessel (an Israel) of God. By thus winning people, we have the same inheritance, in the final analysis, which God chose for Himself. As Jesus said, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19).

Some people give their lives in exchange for money, for property, or a host of other things; yet God says these things are going to burn. But He gives us this fantastic promise that our inheritance can be the same as His. We can catch them. This is the kind of promise you will want to hold on to as long as you live. Give your life in exchange for people.

What does it mean to give your life to people? Paul writes, “So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted to you, not the Gospel of God only, but also our own souls, you Paul went to Thessalonica, he didn’t just impart a message; he gave of his very life because these people were dear and precious to him.

Giving your life in exchange for people means getting involved with in the gut issues of life. This is not the same as getting involved with committees or programs. As good as these may be, they are no substitute for personal involvement in others’ lives. People can be superficially involved in teaching classes, or committee work, or programs, without any heart involvement.  That has no cost attached to it. But when you spiritually give birth to an individual, you cannot be casual about it. You have a responsibility; it is costly, and that is why some people with rather serve on a committee than get involved in another’s life.

A young boy grew up in a family with several other children. They lived in the country because his parents believed the children could better learn responsibilities there. This meant hard work for parents and children, and a life without many so-called luxuries. The family had close friends who were childless and live in a large city nearby. Yearly these friends would take each of the children on an outing. From early morning until evening, they would see that the children had a special day: the zoo, amusement park, all they could eat at restaurants.

Riding the train back home after such an exciting day, the young lad compared the two families and their lifestyles. His family knew plain hard work, raising children, limited vacations. The others enjoyed a nice apartment, new cars, eating out, the theater after work, weekend trips, and long vacations. He decided that when he grew up, he was going to copy the lifestyle of his parents’ friends. But when he got married, he saw things from a different perspective. He realized that the difference between a comfortable marriage and a costly marriage was children—reproduction.

Similarly, the difference between comfortable Christianity and costly Christianity is spiritual reproduction. It costs to become involved in the lives of people. This is why there is not a stampede to accept God’s gracious offer allowing us to give our lives in exchange for people, as He did.

Another fantastic promise in the Bible is found in Isaiah 58:10-12: “And if you give yourself to the hungry, and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness, and your gloom will become like midday. And the Lord will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail. And those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; you will raise up the age-old foundations; and you will be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets in which to dwell” (NASB).

This is a whole list of promises given by God, but they are all conditioned on an if. If, what? “If you give yourself to the hungry, and satisfy the desire of the afflicted.” We live in an age in which there are many hungry and afflicted souls. The opportunities are legion—fantastic opportunities of getting involved in the lives of the people. I find that every time an individual goes on record before God as saying, “Lord, that is going to be my objective: I am going to give my life to people; I will pour out my soul to the afflicted, and satisfy the hungry,” he never wants for opportunities.

When word gets out that you are interested in people, they will beat a path to your door. Your telephone may ring a lot; your home may become like Grand Central Station; people who are spiritually needy and hungry may surround you. You do not have to be a gifted individual to get involved in others’ lives. Just listen to them, that is all; you do not have to be a skilled counselor. You will be amazed how many people will want to talk to you and the things they will begin telling you: hungry, afflicted souls looking for some answers.

When you become involved with the people in this way, you become a co-laborer with God in the second creation. This is the picture. God created heaven and earth. He made everything that exists. Then sin came in, and God said, “I am going to destroy it all and re-create. Only this second creation is going to be marvelously better than the first. So magnificent will it be, I am going to allow my people to labor with Me in that creation.”

When you pour out your life into the lives of others, when you share with them the unsearchable riches of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and become involved with them in their concerns, you become God’s co-laborer in a creation far greater than the first one.

Yet people turn down this opportunity day after day. A man who wanted to help some other men begin in Bible study once asked if I would help him get started. Because the men involved all had busy schedules, we decided to meet at 5am on a weekly basis in my friend’s home.

The evening prior to the first meeting, I stopped by his home with the Bible-study materials to see how plans were developing. When I walked into the house, I immediately sensed that something was wrong; I could have cut the air with a knife, it was so thick. His wife was present, and before long she pointed out that she did not want those men coming and sitting on her furniture, spilling coffee and doughnut crumbs on her carpet. Furthermore 5am was a ridiculous hour, and why should the rest of the family wake up just so these men could do Bible study. Her voice begun to quiver, tears came down her cheeks, and she began to tremble, so deeply involved was she in the issue.

As I listened to her, I prayed silently, “O God, deliver me from the curse of ever believing that my living room furniture is more important than people”.

Are not people’s lives of infinitely more value than the furniture and carpet which God has already promised He is going to burn? Because involvement in people’s lives is costly, very few take it seriously. It costs in time. Your phone will ring in the middle of the night with some distraught soul looking for answers to his needs it will cost you your life because your life is not your own.

“Are you seeking great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for behold, I am going to bring disaster on all flesh. . . . But I will give your life to you as booty in all the places where you may go” (Jer. 45:5, NASB). Are you seeking great things for yourself? “Do not,” says God, “for I am going to bring disaster on all flesh.”

Jesus said, “For whoever will save his life shall lose it, but whoever will lose his life for My sake, the same shall save it” (Luke 9:24). I submit for your consideration that there is no greater objective in life than to give yourself for others.