The productive power of ‘Purpose’ and that of ‘Progress’
“Ah, but man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a Heaven for” wrote the poet Browning.
During a recent reading of a book, I came across a quote from Benjamin Franklin that spoke to me and made me think: “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement and success have no meaning.” Someone once said that we need to set a dream that is big enough, so that in the experience in achieving it, you become someone worth becoming. However, there is a process at work; it is not just a state of being, it is a journey; it is in the distance travelled that we have to invest wisely in our walk of faith. For as I look back, I realise that my most treasured gains have not only been in growing up as a spiritual man, but also in ‘The knowledge of Him’ which is part of Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian Church. Knowing Him more and becoming partakers of the Divine Nature is the will and purposes of God for all of us.
Now the word ‘success’ means many things to many people, for to be considered a success means that you have ‘made it’. If you work hard enough, so they say, you can be anything you want to be – this is often seen as the American dream. So success in the world’s culture is to be master of your own destiny, but as a Christian, success is what we are doing with what God has gifted to us. Who are we becoming and what am I growing into? Proverbs tells us to “ponder the path of our feet, and let all our ways be established” also, “many are the plans of a man’s heart, but it is the Lords purpose that prevails”. So what of progress; for what are we seeking for?
Progress is a forward movement, it is the state of moving onward to something better; nothing in this material universe stands still; there is a constant, often unseen change being made; a transition; a relentless progression, or regression, whichever is the case; rivers that cease to flow soon become stagnant; muscles waste when not being used; human nature degenerates when abandoned to its own desires, and when untouched by the hand of God. If we are looking for real fruitful growth and progress in our journey of faith, then exchanging one secular goal for another will only bring us nothing more than the things of earth.
As I approach my 60 years as a Christian, I can confidently declare that there is no lasting fulfilment and success outside the purposes of God, and it is not how badly or how well we start, but how well we finish that is going to matter for “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way”. Psalm 37:23
Every Blessing from
Jack has been a faithful member of the Free Methodist Church for 34 years, spending many of those years in leadership. He lives in Lancashire, UK, and has recently celebrated 60 years as being a Christian! Find our more about Jack and the story behind Jack’s corner: Treasures of the Word here.