Begin with the End in Mind
There is a reason the word ‘end’ has two meanings.
It tells us when something is complete. When our life is complete and we have lived out the days God has given us, we come to the end.
But end also means purpose. A good statement to remember is this: the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.
In Ecclesiastes, Solomon is pondering the end of life, and wondering if it all had meaning. His conclusion is depressing for those of us who hold our lives dearly in this world. He says everything is meaningless under the sun.
In his solemn words, we find the things we live for in this life, money, things, good opinions, entertainment, success, pleasure, and even wisdom, are like smoke. We see them only for a moment, then they disappear and leave no trace.
When we come to the end of our lives, just as Solomon did, we will most likely have time to think about our lives as well. What will we think of the things we devoted our time and money to? More importantly, what will God think?
If we have the end in mind, our purpose will be clear. We will naturally devote our time to eternally meaningful endeavors.
Thinking about the end clarifies our end.
So what is our end? How do we know what we should devote our lives to?
The answer to these questions are more joyful for us than they were for Solomon. We have hope through Christ that certain people and actions in our lives will last for eternity. Christ’s message can be simplified to three key ways of life: love God, love others, and make disciples.
Though the message can be simplified, the process of living for Christ can seem more complex as we enter each new day. Uncertainty can make us hesitate. Fear can paralyze us. Sin can entangle us. We know we should be glorifying God in everything we do, but something stops us.
When we have the choice between another night of relaxation and reaching out to someone for the gospel, what guides us in our decision? The answer can tell us whether we are living for God or not. Do we choose to gratify ourselves in the moment, or do what’s best in light of eternity?
In the end, one night of relaxation will be long gone from our memory. One night of service, or fellowship, or sharing the gospel, or reaching out to a neighbor, or discipling our children could be a defining moment that lasts forever.
It is not only with our free time we can participate joyfully in God’s glorious kingdom work. We can glorify God in every moment of our lives. We can glorify him in how we prepare for the day, how we sleep and wake up, how we plan, how we work, how we eat, and how we think.
In the end, we will never regret the things we’ve done for God.
We find a great example in C.T. Studd. He had a celebrity status as a cricket player in England, along with wealth, but he gave it up to be a missionary in China. Though we don’t have to follow his example exactly, we can see living for God looks a lot different than living for ourselves in this world. He wrote a famous poem that is a good reminder in our daily walk with Christ:
"Only one life, ‘twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last."