On this Thanksgiving I find myself reflecting with gratitude on something a blessing from the Lord that is a bit abstract: a meaningful life.
Family, shelter, a good job, and a great church—all of these are all gifts from the Lord for which I owe Him the loudest shouts of thanks. But today I’m reflecting on something which binds those all together and ennobles them with divine purpose. As a man made in the image of God, I have been given a charge and a purpose which is both immensely satisfying and the ultimate privilege.
All of my work, indeed all of life, is meaningful because I exist to glorify God.
The Goal of Man
Many philosophers have thought themselves hairless over the question of the meaning of life. But one of the grand and often underappreciated benefits of being a Christian is that when you come into God’s family, among the many gifts in in that welcome package of adoption blessings is a little box marked “Purpose.”
Along with reconciliation to God, a heavenly inheritance, salvation from sin, and a mile-high pile of innumerable blessings, Christianity brings with it a satisfying holistic understanding of life’s purpose. And this purpose brings cohesion to all of life in a way no other philosophy or religion can.
Christians know the true meaning of life! We know why we are here. And I think often we do not reflect on just what a gift that really is.
As Christians we understand that we exist to glorify God. Isaiah 43:3 puts it clearly, everyone who is called by God was “created for my glory.“ Or as the Catechism puts it, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”
Since the goal of man is to glorify God, this means, among other things, that our work—whatever it is—is imbued with ultimate meaning.
The Glory of Work
Some people love their jobs, and some people hate them. Researchers are always doing studies to uncover the factors which make those job-lovers enjoy their vocations so much. Surprisingly the thing that turns up again and again in these studies is the reported insignificance of pay as it relates to job satisfaction. In fact, many studies have found that people frequently turn down higher paying jobs for jobs that pay less but are more meaningful.
It seems that for most people, once they reach a point where they are paid more than enough to subsist, money ceases to be the goal of their work. This makes sense, doesn’t it? When you really reflect on it, Christian or not, money is just too shallow a purpose to give meaning to life. Simply working to put food on the table and toys in the garage is hardly a glorious existence. So, I can see why even unbelievers would be driven toward meaningful work even to the neglect of a higher salary.
Find a meaningful job is a great thing. But here’s something really cool about being a Christian. When we recognize that our entire lives are for glorifying God, all work, any job, when done with the right heart, is meaningful.
Even the most mundane things of life can be done with an eye toward glorifying our Lord. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether we eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Whether we are packing trucks, signing paychecks, or landing airplanes, our ultimate goal is the same, Christians exist to glorify God by fearing Him and serving Him faithfully (1 Samuel 12:24), and doing it all with gladness (Psalm 100:2–3).
Such an understanding of the all encompassing purpose which glorifying God brings to our lives adds a zest to even the most ostensibly meaningless of jobs. Knowing that you exist for His glory makes the mundane meaningful, turns the pointless to purposeful, and transforms all that we do in life to one big opportunity to worship our great God.
The Gratitude for Purpose
And this meaningfulness is what I’m giving thanks for this year. No matter what each day holds, or how bad things might get, I have an overarching reason to always get out of bed in the morning. I have not just a purpose to my life, I have the purpose of life. Today, whatever I do, I get to glorify the Maker of heaven and earth.
In a world filled with people chasing after pointless and temporal trivialities, this Thanksgiving I can’t help but give thanks that God has given me the knowledge, privilege, and ability to pursue the ultimate meaning of life, His glory.