I want a life that has significance. I'm sure you do, too. I don’t need to be famous. I’m not trying to become powerful. Few of us achieve those things, and not everyone who does succeeds. In fact, some people pursue these things for many years and in the end discover that they have squandered the life they were given.
I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations (Jeremiah 1:5, NLT).
What will give your life true significance? The teaching of Jeremiah gives us important clues. Before he was born, God formed him. He was made for a purpose appointed by God, and the Bible tells us that he was faithful to live it out.
You are valuable because you were made by God
From the moment you were born, you’ve been a treasure to him. He formed you personally in your mother’s womb. You are a unique and special creation of the Maker of heaven and earth himself.
I once stood in front of a glass case containing a collection of the fabulous, jewel-encrusted “Easter eggs” created by Peter Carl Fabergé for the Czars of Russia as gifts for their wives and mothers. What beauty! And what monetary value! A single Fabergé egg was recently estimated to be worth more than 30 million dollars. Great value comes from bearing the imprint of a great maker.
Imagine, then, the value of something made with love and care by God Himself. The majestic and sovereign God of all creation is your creator. Just like Jeremiah, you were formed by God himself and are known to him. Nothing will ever bring greater value to your life than this.
You are valuable because God has made you for a purpose
Just as Jeremiah was set apart and appointed by God to be a prophet, God made you for a purpose that is important to him. I was appointed to the work of Christian ministry while my wife was appointed to the work of mother and school teacher. You may have been appointed to some other purpose in life. A purpose is important not because of what it is but because of who assigns it. God made you for a purpose in his great plan – what a tremendous daily dose of encouragement!
Today, this essential truth is increasingly forgotten. As in Jeremiah’s day people say, “At last we are free from God! We don’t need him anymore!" (Jeremiah 2:31). It’s gone so far that Ferris Jabr, writing in the New York Times argues that the very idea of “life” is an illusion. He says: “Likewise, ‘life’ is an idea. We find it useful to think of some things as alive and others as inanimate, but this division exists only in our heads.” This may seem like an extreme view, but it’s similar to the thought we all have from time to time that we are not really that important. This is a lie, and we should not listen to it.
You may say, “But I am not famous, powerful or wealthy. I do small things in quiet places. No one really cares about what I do.” Listen! A purpose appointed by the Lord, no matter what its size, is immensely important. If in the eyes of the world you feel small, take heart. You are important to him. If you feel large, take no glory in it because the honors of the world fade and pass away. A purpose appointed by God endures — forever!
Faithfulness is your key to a life of significance
Since God has made you for a purpose, your key to significance is faithfulness. Do what he has set you apart to do, large or small, without regard to anything else.
Never doubt that two minutes of faithfulness to even a small but God-given task is more worthwhile than an entire life of achieving goals that did not come from him. The issue is not what you do but why you do it. The Scripture puts it this way I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked [...] He gives us grace and glory" (Psalm 84:10b, 11b).
Jeremiah 2:5 makes a critical point. God’s people have been unfaithful to him. He says: They worshiped worthless idols, only to become worthless themselves.
What a lesson in these words! To build your life around anything less than God himself is to worship something worthless. This is what the Bible calls worshipping an idol. If you do this, two things inevitably happen: first, just like the worthless idol, you become worthless too. Failure to be faithful to God sucks significance out of your life as surely as a fire pump drains a reservoir. The second impact is more serious still. Worshipping idols destroys life. Inevitably they prove to have offered a false hope that will leave you short and wondering how things could have gone so wrong.
Many years ago, the man who led me to Christ planted a thought in my heart that has never left. "If God calls you to be a street sweeper," he said, "Never stoop down to become a king." Martin Luther King, Jr. said the same thing more eloquently:
If it falls to your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: "Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well."
If you are faithful to God, your life will be filled with his grace and glory. It will be filled with grace because it will have been a life transformed by God's love and power. It will be filled with glory because the imprint of his purpose will be unfading and everlasting. It will be filled with joy because the greatest joy comes from serving him in his strength.