Unless there is a goal to be reached, very little effort is put forth by anyone for anything. All successful businesses, all competitive sports and all other worthy or unworthy enterprises have a goal. That goal governs the thoughts, words and actions of the individuals concerned.
As Christians, we too must have a goal, and that goal is to be much higher and nobler than any worldly enterprise. There is only one way we are going to reach that goal, and that is if our thoughts, words, and actions are governed by our determination to reach the standard which we have set.
Setting a Goal
The first thing we need to do is to set our goal. Basically, our goal should be eternal life with Jesus, which means living in heaven and in the earth made new where there will be no sin, no pain, no death, no sorrow, no angry words spoken, no disappointments and no deceptions. It will be a life filled with activity and wholesome association.
To reach any goal we need to know the requirements to see if we have the ability to perform them. Let us look at this for a few minutes. The requirements are set down by God Himself. In Isaiah 13:12, God has promised to make a man more precious than fine gold even than the golden wedge of Ophir. And in Matthew 5:48 He says, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” I would say those requirements are pretty stringent.
But God would never make a requirement, or a goal, that can not be reached; so let us spend a little time on what we must do to reach our goal. In order for gold to become purified it must go through the process of refining, which requires tremendous heat; and that heat represents trials and afflictions. Are we willing to endure the heat of trials such as unjust criticism, unjust treatment or being scoffed at? Are we able to suffer losses without complaining or becoming irritable?
They Forgot Their Leader
These things may sound very trite and simple, but remember that millions of Israelites lost their lives in the desert just because they complained of their situation. They forgot who their leader was; they forgot that every trial was for the purpose of purifying their characters so they would have a better society of people to live with when they got to Canaan. Can you imagine being very, very thirsty and then tasting water so bitter you could not drink it and not saying one impatient word about it? or wandering in the wilderness for 40 years eating the same food day after day, and still keeping a sweet disposition? Remember “all these things happened unto them for enamples: and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” 1Corinthians 10:11.
A Poor Foundation
So how do we reach the goal. There is only one way, and that is to keep our eyes riveted on the life of Jesus. We cannot take time to look any other place. We have no time to look at the supposed mistakes that our brothers and sisters are making. I once knew a minister who used to say, “Other peoples’ mistakes are a poor foundation on which to build your conversation.” That statement has helped me many times.
The story is told in the Bible about the time that Joseph sent his brothers from Egypt back to Canaan, to bring their families and their father to Egypt where there was food. The admonition Joseph gave them was “. . .See that you fall not out by the way.” Genesis 45:24. That is good admonition for us as we are traveling to our heavenly Canaan, for if we fall by the way we will have missed our goal completely and lost our heavenly home.
Where Are Your Eyes Focused?
There are many ways that we could fall out by the way. We could start focusing our eyes on the things of the world; or we could start focusing our attention on the failings of the General Conference brethren; or even spending time trying to figure out why our historic Adventist brothers and sisters are doing what they are doing; or making suppositions about the meanings of what they are preaching.
Focusing our eyes on things of this world—what does that mean? Are we admiring our neighbor’s good car, wishing for and working to have a far better one than we can really afford? Are we dressing with the intention of looking like the worldly models and being pleasing to the eyes of our worldly acquaintances, or are we dressing to represent Jesus, here on earth? Are we loving the entertainments, fashions and fine things of this world, above the worship of our heavenly Creator? Are we watching TV, or reading the newspaper when we should be devoting our time to Bible study or reading the Spirit of Prophecy? Where are we spending our time and energy? Are we just making a living, or are we spending a couple hours a day with the inspired writings and in prayer or even devoting some time for prayer and fasting?
We need to get our eyes riveted on Jesus and realize the purpose for which we were created and given life here on earth. We are told about an experience Peter had when Jesus was on earth. Peter was so happy to see Jesus walking on the water that Peter asked if he could join Him. Jesus bid him come. When Peter got out on the water he was elated that he could actually walk on the water, (Matthew 14:22–36) but as soon as he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the waves on the sea, he began to sink.
Taking Our Eyes Off Jesus
If we for one minute take our eyes off of Jesus, we too will sink. Let us look at some of the other ways that we take our eyes off Jesus. Have you ever had someone come and tell you of all the mistakes the men at Silver Springs, Maryland are making? Have you ever gone over and over their failures and the way they are investing God’s money and what they are saying about celebration or the new theology? There is nothing wrong with being aware of the conditions in our world or in the church, but there is a difference in being aware of these things and spending time and mental energy dwelling on them, hashing over situations and mistakes.
I am sure that Peter was aware of the fact that he was walking on water. But when he got to thinking about himself, saw the waves and began worrying about his situation, he began to sink. We must be aware of the kind of world in which we are living. But if we begin looking at ourselves, at our situation, at the problems in the church and lose sight of the fact that God is leading and that He will see His work through, then we too will sink. We must be divested of self and determined to do as Jesus would do if He were in our situation. God’s will, will be done on earth as it is done in heaven. The truth will triumph. The question is, Will we triumph with it?
To Glorify God in All Things
The advancements in the modes of travel and communication are given to us for one great purpose—to hasten the Gospel to all the world? When we realize that, we can rightly enjoy our computers, telephones, e-mails, airplanes, cars, and whatever can be used to help save souls from the final destruction of the inhabitants of this world.
When we travel down the fine freeways, that are built to make travel easier and swifter, do we remember that God gave these things to us to expedite His work more efficiently? We need to make use of every modern convenience to which we have access, to glorify God and to help hasten the work of getting the Three Angels’ Messages out to the inhabitants of this troubled world.
We have a goal to be reached, a saving message to be given to the world, and we have not a moment to lose in accomplishing our task. Every dollar we have, and every bit of influence we can exert, is to fulfill that one great purpose. If we keep our eyes riveted on Jesus, and put our all to the task, we will reach our goal.
Jesus tells us that without Him we can do nothing, (John 15:5). In another place He said that with God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26), so with God’s direction you and I can reach our goal.
“Consecrate yourself to God in the morning; make this your very first work. Let your prayer be, ‘Take me, O Lord, as wholly Thine. I lay all my plans at Thy feet. Use me today in Thy service. Abide with me, and let all my work be wrought in Thee.’ This is a daily matter. Each morning consecrate yourself to God for that day. Surrender all your plans to Him, to be carried out or given up as His providence shall indicate. Thus, day by day you may be giving your life into the hands of God, and thus your life will be molded more and more after the life of Christ.
“A life in Christ is a life of restfulness. There may be no ecstasy of feeling, but there should be an abiding, peaceful trust. Your hope is not in yourself; it is in Christ. Your weakness is united to His strength, your ignorance to His wisdom, your frailty to His enduring might. So you are not to look to yourself, not to let the mind dwell upon self, but look to Christ. Let the mind dwell upon His love, upon the beauty, the perfection, of His character. Christ in His self-denial, Christ in His humiliation, Christ in His purity and holiness, Christ in His matchless love—this is the subject for the soul’s contemplation. It is by loving Him, copying Him, depending wholly upon Him, that you are to be transformed into His likeness.” Steps to Christ, 70, 71.
Reflecting His Character
We have been promised that the glory of God would circle the earth. In Numbers 14:21, it says, “But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.” If we, His followers, develop in us His character, He will use us to accomplish His purpose. My plea is, Let nothing detract us from the purpose for which we were created and that is to reflect the image of God perfectly. Let us ask ourselves, when we communicate with one another, are we reflecting the character of Christ or are we aiding the “accuser of the brethren?” (Revelation 12:10.)
“In the lives of God’s people the truths of His word are to reveal their glory and excellence. Through His people Christ is to manifest His character and the principles of His kingdom.
“Satan seeks to counterwork the work of God, and he is constantly urging men to accept his principles. He represents the chosen people of God as a deluded people. He is an accuser of the brethren, and his accusing power is employed against those who work righteousness. The Lord desires through His people to answer Satan’s charges by showing the results of obedience to right principles.
“These principles are to be manifest in the individual Christian, in the family, in the church, and in every institution established for God’s service. All are to be symbols of what can be done for the world. They are to be types of the saving power of the truths of the gospel. All are agencies in the fulfillment of God’s great purpose for the human race.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 296.
May we, by the grace of God, who claim to be God’s children and call our selves Seventh-day Adventists, fulfill the purpose for which we are placed in this world.