Do you have a goal in life? Is there some over-riding purpose that you are steadily working toward as time passes by? Each of us needs a God-given purpose for living our lives, because this is what gives us hope and keeps us motivated and moving forward.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish; but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” (Proverbs 29:18, KJV)
As humans, we need goals–something to look forward and strive towards. Yet many of the things we work for–even those which are in and of themselves harmless–become remarkably futile when wrongly positioned as a primary life goal. Whether an education, professional or business success, a home, or any other pursuit we may choose to devote ourselves to, by themselves human goals simply do not satisfy:
“These are the words of the Teacher, King David’s son [Solomon] who ruled in Jerusalem. ‘Everything is meaningless,’ says the Teacher, ‘completely meaningless!’ What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes.” (Ecclesiastes 1:1-5, NLT)
As depressing as this verse seems, it speaks truth. All of the various things human beings devote themselves to–their time, effort, and finances–eventually decay and are forgotten. Yet today’s verse seems to imply that we should have a life goal, a vision. So which is correct? Should we, or should we not, have goals in life?
The answer to this question can be found in a correct understanding of Proverbs 29:18. The King James Version translation says “Where there is no vision the people perish,” but let’s take a look at another translation:
“Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but happy is he who keeps the law.” (Proverbs 29:18 NKJV)
This verse is referring not to the need for a life goal, but to the need for a correct life goal–for an understanding of God’s vision, a revelation of His plan for us and our lives. This is because life goals chosen without regard to a recognition of God’s claim on us, while initially alluring, over time reveal themselves to be the empty pursuits they truly are. Just ask any person on their deathbed whether they regret not having worked longer hours or achieved some other endeavor. Invariably, their comments will center around relationships not mended, time foolishly wasted, and wrong attitudes about life itself.
Furthermore, Scripture always defines Scripture. If you look at the KJV, “Where there is no vision, the people perish; but he that keepeth the law, happy is he,” the two halves of the verse seem disjointed and unrelated. After all, it’s good to keep the law, but what, exactly, does that have to do with having a vision for your life?
In the NKJV, however, it makes sense: “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but happy is he who keeps the law. ” Without a correct understanding of God, a revelation of Him, His will, and His purposes for our lives, we have a tendency to wander off into our own foolish and unrestrained pursuits. Keeping God’s law, however, keeps us grounded, happy, and content.
So, should we have goals in life? Obviously, we should, because you can’t get there if you don’t know where you’re going. Yet they should center on Christ and His purposes; as we make significant decisions, we should make them prayerfully, in light of what honors Him, recognizing that, “…each of us shall give account of himself to God,” (Romans 14:12). Ultimately, it’s all about Him.
“…For whom are all things and by whom are all things…” (Hebrews 2:10)
Dear Lord Jesus,
Direct our paths, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom! Amen.