The Three Greatest Goals in Life
A university student in Seoul returned to his hometown in the country. Seeing his father tilling the soil with a plow, he asked if he could try. He plowed the furrows for a long time, and when he finally looked back upon the field, he saw that he had plowed in zigzags, like the markings of a snake. He asked his father, "Why did this happen?"
"It’s because you didn’t begin aiming at a clear goal. When you plow fields, choose a single destination point far away, and drive the cow straight towards it until you get there," his father advised.
The son tried again, this time aiming at a black cow which was grazing in the field. But still the field was full of zigzagged lines. He questioned his father again." Dad, I followed your advice. But why did this happen again?’ "My son, what did you aim at?" his father asked. "Well, I was aiming at that cow grazing over there," he answered.
"What? A cow moving around? If you do that you can't avoid plowing in zigzags. The next time, choose a fixed point, like a rock," his father said.
What did the son do? On his next run, he aimed at a large immovable rock and plowed the field in straight furrows. Brothers, we should not live lives without goals, or choose goals which are not fixed or which can change.
In the same way that the young student tried to plow the fields using three different methods, we can find three different attitudes for living. One is to live an aimless, decadent life. A second is to live putting one’s faith in materialism – aims of this world. The third way to live is to aim for the eternal and unchanging Kingdom of God.
Everyone obviously has his own aim in life, and they may all differ, but if we are to be called the saved children of God, we should all share the same obvious goal, with those redeemed.
This message will present the three goals in life which God’s people should have.
1. Life for God’s Glory.
"Whatever we eat or drink or whatever we do, do it all for the glory of God."
The main reason God created man was to receive glory through him. Therefore, if you are a Christian and know God, your first aim in life should be to glorify Him. If you are unsure whether or not to do something, ask yourself whether your work will serve to glorify God or to hide His glory instead. Then you will easily know what to do. While living in this world, we should seek to reveal God’s glory though our lives.
The day before yesterday, I saw a picture of one of our national soccer players, Lee Young-Moo, praying after having scored a goal. He had left the national team for a while, supposedly due to a minor injury sustained during the Merdeca Cup. The truth though, was that the team coach did not want him falling to his knees in prayer after every goal. Lee thought this would disturb his life of faith, and left the team instead.
After another coach, Han Heung-Kee asked him to return to the team, we could once again see Lee praying after each of his goals. I am so deeply moved by his faith: No matter what soccer meant to him personally, if he couldn’t glorify God in playing, then he would rather leave the field!
You might remember that the entire nation was greatly concerned over the fate of a climbing party leaving for Mt. Everest, since frequent past attempts to conquer the mountain had ended in failure, some with climbers left on the mountain, buried under avalanches.
This party conquered Mt. Everest and returned without a single life lost. This was considered a miracle. I wondered what had brought this miracle about, until I learned that the expedition leader, Kim Young-Tak, was a faithful Christian. Members of previous climbing parties had left for Mt. Everest after performing religious services which included bowing to the head of a pig placed upon an altar. In sharp contrast, Kim’s party held Christian worship services twice daily, led by pastors accompanying the team. Surprisingly, the pastors read the same Bible verses that the team had selected in advance: Psalm 121:1-8,"I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber not sleep. The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”
Those expeditions which had left for Mt. Everest after performing religious services worshipping idols, with a pig’s head placed on an altar, sacrificed to the guardian spirit of a mountain, ended in failure, and sometimes even loss of life. This climbing party succeeded in conquering Mt. Everest and all of its members came back safely.
Moreover, despite the fact that it took most foreign climbing teams between 40 and 50 days to reach the summit, they arrived at the peak within 20 days. Faced with the crisis of exhausting oxygen supplies, they luckily discovered tanks discarded by a previous French team, and were thus able to continue climbing, and eventually conquer the mountain. In another incident, two members of the party were forced to spend the night near the summit, facing life threatening –30 to –40 degree temperatures, in absolute danger of freezing to death. Mr. Kim earnestly prayed to God to protect his team members, and let them survive the night. Around midnight, he left his tent, to discover the night air mild and spring-like. The day before, the hours before had been extremely cold, and the same weather was also predicted for the next day. Yet the two members returned to camp safely. All the members realized that God had protected them from danger. Even though the statistical data and weather forecast predicted heavy snowfalls, they never appeared, thus allowing the team to conquer Mt. Everest through a miracle. Mr. Kim later said, "I'd like to confess clearly that it was only through the help of God as revealed in Psalm 121 that Ko Sang-Don could reach the summit of Mt. Everest and that all of the expedition members could come back safely." He revealed the glory of God through his work - the conquest of Mt. Everest.
The faithful's aim in life should not be to eat or to make money. It should not be to bear children and raise them well. No matter what your way of life is, your first aim should be to reveal the glory of God in your life. There is a proverb which states, "All for God will be all for men." The first aim in life should be for the glory of God. Only then will there also be profit for man, and he will lead a fruitful life forever. Our aim in life is to glorify God on high, our heavenly Creator.
2. Life Profitable To Man
The apostle Paul admonished in a letter to Corinthians, "Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the Church of God- even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good, but the good of many so that they may be saved.” I Corinthians 10:32-33. We should live our lives seeking profit for others, not ourselves. Our lives should not be spent seeking only our own profit - they should be spent giving profit to others.
There are three kinds of men in the world: Those who give neither profit nor cause damage to others; those who do only damage like spiders; and those who profit others in the manner of the bees. We should not do everything we can profit from. Even though our actions may be perfectly legal and just, we should first consider whether or not they will be profitable to others. We should not place primary importance in deciding this on either the law or our own profits.
In 1 Corinthians 10:23-24, it is said “ ‘Everything is permissible’ - but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible’ – but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others." This means that we should not always do anything we can.
I once read a testimony written by Song Hee-Kyung, a president of the United Mission for Workshop in the Anyang Correctional Institution. He had been a master sergeant in the military police, and had led a life of lust, chasing after money, honor or women, as he wished. After his discharge from the service, he organized a gang and committed serious crime; What is worse, he ordered his men to kill a police captain by arson. Caught and captured, imprisoned in a cell, considered wicked, he was forced to eat and sleep while wearing two pairs of handcuffs. During those periods of solitary confinement he would remember his past and the church he had attended. He began to regret his crimes. One day while listening to an earnest young visiting evangelist preach the Gospel he felt the grace of God and began to repent for his sins. Reading from the Bible, that day he was born again, redeemed. After that, he began to preach the Gospel to the inmates in his cell and also led his wife to believe in Jesus through a ten-day long fasting prayer. He decided that if he were set free, he would devote his remaining years to glorifying Jesus and for the profit of many people.
We should reflect thoroughly on our lives, asking whether we have sought only profit for others or for ourselves.
3. A Life Devoted to the Redemption of Souls.
Our passage reads, "But the good of many, so that they may be saved." Whoever has been saved and promised eternal life should set his aim on somehow saving even one single soul. Our greatest aim should be telling people about Jesus and the good news, so that they, like us, can also have eternal life. For example, let's suppose there is a scientist who has invented a cure for cancer. If he didn’t want to reveal the effects of his cure, but keep them only for himself, how would anyone ever know whether the medicine were useful or not? By the same token, if we didn’t tell those people doomed to perish by the diseases of their sins – more serious than cancer - about Jesus and the good news, but rather kept Him only to ourselves, within our own hearts, then how could people know about Him? John 6:39 reads, "And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day". What is God’s Will? That we lead people to believe in Jesus and to be saved.
Therefore, we should use any means and every chance to devote our time, material and even our life, if God asks us, to save even a single soul. Paul says, in Romans 1:14, “"I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish.” We were brought to light from darkness, to life from death, and to eternal life from eternal damnation; thus we should rapidly deliver this good news to the world, and save even a single soul: This should be the greatest aim of our lives. If our church can be said to have one unchanging motto, it is: “A Church Eager for the Salvation of Souls.” A church should always be full of zeal for the salvation of souls. For this reason, we chose our church motto for the year 1978 as “Even a Single Soul.” This means we should lead our lives without losing a single soul, but in the care of every soul as precious. In 1 Corinthians 9:16, Paul says, "Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!"
Whatever we eat and drink, or however we engage in business and making money, all of our work should be aimed at preaching the Gospel of redemption and saving souls.
Brothers, what are you making so much money for? What would you spend it on, if you were a millionaire? We should live a life in accordance with God’s Will:
"A Life for the Glory of God"
"A Life for Giving Profit to Others"
A Life Devoted to the Salvation of Souls"
These are the three greatest goals of a believer’s life. If you make these three goals part of your life, your life can then have eternal value, without regret.