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The Purpose Driven Life Day Three – What Drives Your Life?

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Everyone’s life is driven by something. I see now that Rick Warren likes to open each chapter with a concise summary of the chapter’s title! Chapter three of The Purpose Driven Life begins by stating that each person’s life is driven and controlled by something. Warren lists five of the most common driving forces. They are:

  1. Guilt – Many people live their lives burdened by guilt. They allow this guilt to control them so that their past controls their future. God, though, loves to give them the opportunity for a fresh start. They do not need to live in guilt.
  2. Resentment & Anger – Some people hold on to hurts from the past and never learn to let them go. Eventually this anger and resentment controls them. Warren’s advice is “For your own sake, learn from it, and then let it go.”
  3. Fear – Fear controls many people. By playing it safe and always fighting to maintain the status quo they may avoid God’s purpose for their lives. These people need to learn to fight fear through faith in God.
  4. Materialism – Most people in our society are driven by materialism. They are driven to acquire more and more possessions and believe that security can only be found in having more. This goes directly against Scripture which says that the most valuable things in life are not things!
  5. Need For Approval – Many people allow their need for other people’s approval to control their lives. They spend their lives worrying about what others think of them.

Though not an exhaustive list, these probably summarize most people. Warren follows his summary of these driving forces by stating that this forty-day journey will show me how to live a life that is driven by purpose rather than by fear, guilt, resentment, materialism or the need for approval. None of these can compensate for a life with no purpose.

There are five main benefits to living a purpose-driven life. They are:

  1. Knowing My Purpose Gives Meaning To My Life – Humans were made to have meaning. Without purpose, life is meaningless. A meaningless life is a life without hope or significance. This is a profound statement and one that everyone should spend time pondering. God gives purpose. Purpose gives meaning. Meaning gives hope and significance. There is awesome truth contained within that logic.
  2. Knowing My Purpose Simplifies My Life – My purpose becomes the standard I use to determine which activities are important and which are not. If an activity does not further my purpose it can, and often should, be removed or ignored. My purpose gives me the foundation on which to base decisions and allocate my time and resources.
  3. Knowing My Purpose Focuses My Life – With a determined purpose I can focus my time and energy on what is truly important. Without purpose I may always be getting distracted and changing direction. Focusing on a few things that fulfill my purpose will yield better results than attempting to focus on many things that may not.
  4. Knowing My Purpose Motivates My Life – Purpose produces passion. By knowing my purpose I will be passionate about achieving it.
  5. Knowing My Purpose Prepares Me For Eternity – My time on earth is nothing more than a preparation for eternity. What matters in the end is not whether people remember me after I am gone but what God says about my life. Building an eternal legacy is far more important than building an earthly one.

To finish the chapter, Warren speaks about our “final exam” as we stand before God after death. He states that God will ask us two questions. The first will be, “What did you do with my Son, Jesus Christ?” and the second will be “What did you do with what I gave you?” I found that his statement “your religious background or doctrinal views” will not matter did not sit very well. Though in theory I agree, I do not like to see such things downplayed. Sound doctrine and a solid walk with God is critical to the Christian life. The finer points of doctrine may not matter when it comes to entrance into heaven, but this does not mean they do not matter at all.

Bible Passages

This chapter quotes Scripture 17 times using six different translations and paraphrases. Once again, there are a few passages that raise concern.

In speaking about the importance of purpose, Warren quotes Genesis 4:12 which speaks about the curse God placed on Cain as punishment for murdering his brother. It reads, “You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.” Warren then states, “That describes most people today – wandering through life without a purpose.” Though the statement is true, Genesis 4:12 does not prove his point for it does not concern purpose.

He later quotes Job 5:2 using Today’s English Version which reads radically different than a more literal translation. Then in the section about purpose giving meaning to life he again quotes Job (and Isaiah) out of context. It is quite a misreading to say that Job’s felt his life was hopeless because he was without purpose!

Finally, in speaking about being driven by the need for approval Warren quotes Matthew 6:24. He quotes only a few words. “No one can serve two masters.” Once again, I agree with what Warren says and I agree that the passage is translated correctly. However, the passage has nothing to do with desiring approval! The passage, when read in context, is clearly about the love of money. The complete verse reads, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

The previous passage may be the most clear example of my frustration with Warren’s use of Scripture. Through the first three chapters he has continually proved his points by using tiny snippets of the Bible without giving context. When examined in the wider context of the verse, chapter or book we find that Warren has either stretched the meanings of the verses or given them a meaning that is altogether foreign to them. Of course we know that in Bible study context is king. Many radical and unscriptural beliefs have arisen from using Scripture outside of its natural context. Warren, of course, has not generally used Scripture to prove unscriptural beliefs. However, this does not rationalize its misuse. Proving something using false proof or false evidence is not wise and is not a sound method for studying the Bible.

Question To Consider

Today’s question is, “What would my family and friends say is the driving force of my life? What do I want it to be?” I have not asked any of my friends and family. I certainly would like to think and sincerely hope that they would answer that God drives my life. I want nothing more than to be a tool used by God to further His work. No, my life is not wholly devoted to this purpose and I know it never will be in entirety, yet I do hope that as I grow in my faith, so will my devotion to this purpose.

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