At what point does it feel like you’re really doing something with your life? Does a day come when you wake up and think, “Hey I’ve really done something meaningful or notable with my life.” We’re always weighing our life based on what feels meaningful.
But what happens when that feeling never comes?
I finally finished my Master’s Degree after a solid five years. A day I thought would never come. In the process, people were always amazed by how large and meaningful this was in my life.
But going through it day by day didn’t seem that way. It felt a lot more like a weekly routine of balancing work, studying, social life, and the endless commutes. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity and the countless nights of wrestling with theological topics, translating Hebrew (which I’ve never been very good at), and processing how everything I was learning made a real life difference. I didn’t just learn more about God, but I learned more about my faith and even myself.
But now that season is over. And that feeling of doing something profound and meaningful never came. My life looks a little bit different now. It’s filled with going to work full time. And instead of rushing off to school or a coffee shop to study, now I just come home and make dinner. Now that the dust has settled a bit, the question of “What am I doing with my life?” comes in.
We all have these kinds of moments. I’ve heard it from people in their twenties as well as those in their fifties. People take inventory and wonder what in the world they are even doing with their life.
I think this is a good question to ask. But how we answer it is even more important. How we measure living a meaningful life shouldn’t be based on big, profound moments that may or may not come. It’s better to gauge this question based on a different set of standards.
We can really gauge the meaningfulness of our lives by the words of Jesus. Here are two standards he gives for living a life full of meaning and purpose.
1. Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind.
Now before you tune out because this isn’t exactly as practical and helpful as you were hoping for, hear me out.
When the central focus of your life is to love God with every aspect of who you are, it makes for a life worth living. Of course, our meaning and worth come from our identity in Jesus and him alone. But what we do with that matters. What we do with Jesus matters. The practice of our faith comes into play.
Loving God is not separated from your life or even who you are as a person. It’s part of who you are. Our love for God should govern everything about our lives. It’s not just restricted to Sunday mornings or the time we spend reading our bible. It becomes the very air that we inhale and the root from which our life takes shape.
This matters. And it’s very practical. Our love for God should drive the very core of who we are. It should drive the way we look at life and the decisions we make. When everything we do springs forth out of our love for God, we live a life of impact. We live a life that matters.
It may not look as glamorous and profound as you had envisioned, but it’s a life that means something. Because when everything you do springs from your love for God, what you do is different from those who don’t.
When you work out of your love for God, that matters. And that doesn’t mean your work has to be “ministry” related. When you’re stuck in traffic, and your heart, mind, and soul is filled with love for God, you are a different person. I’m not saying that means you love traffic. But you’re usually not responding the same way others are who are stuck in traffic next to you.
When your love for God is overflowing, the all other preoccupations of life seem to dissipate.
A great way to gauge whether or not you’re living a meaningful life is whether or not you’re living it full of love for God. Is every fiber of your being living out of your love for God? It may not look as dazzling and profound as you thought it would, but it sure is a life lived to the fullest.
2. Love your neighbor as yourself.
I’m sure you were expecting this one after reading the first point.
In case you hadn’t noticed, most of your life is not lived alone. It’s not just you and your thoughts walking around removed from everyone else. We live life with people around us, whether we like it or not. So how you are with others matters.
The way you interact with people, converse with them, think about them, and treat them matters. That means your coworkers, your family, your kids, your spouse, your friends. That even means the airline attendant who informs you that you actually need to check that bag.
We can’t say we love God and dislike people. Our love for God pours into our love for people. They’re connected. Living a life that matters can be heavily gauged by how we treat others.
And it’s about more than just being nice. It’s about valuing and dignifying others who are equally created in the image of God.
With our love for God at the center, how could we look at another human being with selfish gain? How could we talk to another human as if they are less than you?
We should love people. And not just the ones we like. I know that’s far more difficult in the moment when someone is cutting you off on the freeway or undermining your promotion at work or speaking ill of you to others. It’s not an easy thing. But our love for others can only flow from our love for God.
When it comes to taking inventory of your life, asking how well you love others is a great gauge.
Getting fancy degrees, making lots of money, solving world hunger, seeing thousands of people come to faith are all wonderful things. But they’re not ways to gauge if you’ve lived a life that matters.
We have to truly dig deep and be honest with ourselves. Have you truly loved God with every fiber of your being? And have you loved others as you love yourself?
When these two purposes define what a meaningful life looks like to you, the other things you cling to will fade away. You will quickly realize the standards you once held yourself to are trivial in comparison to these two. These are what Jesus himself said should be the most important things in our lives.
If I’m being honest, I place other things as priority in my life. But in the end they won’t matter. Loving God and others with everything you have will lead to a life overflowing.