What really matters? Here's how to put meaning in your life

Imagine getting near the end of your life and realizing you completely missed what really matters.

I don't know about you, but I'd feel sick to my stomach. By then it would be too late to go back and change things. There's nothing more heartbreaking than wasting your precious life on what turned out to be nonsense.

There is a guaranteed way to avoid that, though, and that's what this article is about. You see, we single people are especially vulnerable to this mistake because we tend to cruise along, convinced we're on the right path with our goals and values.

We seldom ask the tough questions. "If I keep this up, what will be the result 40 or 50 years from now?" "Am I making any positive impact at all on the world and people around me?"

So many of us get our values from unreliable places. Remember this: Every source of information, from social media to TV programs to your friends, has a hidden agenda. What you have to ask is, "Why are they trying to influence me?"

First, let's briefly look at a few things the world says are all-important. Then we'll talk about what really matters.

Things that seem to matter but don't

The world, or modern society, tells us image matters. It does not. The Bible says:

"The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7, NIV)

Sure, it's all right to dress neatly and attractively, but when we become obsessed with how we look, we're putting our trust in something other than God. God doesn't help us when we worship something other than him.

The world is obsessed with money, making it the number one priority of millions. What did Jesus say about riches?

“Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 19:23, NIV)

Why? Because rich people spend most of their time thinking about how to preserve what they have and how to get even richer. It is rare for a rich person to value God more than their wealth.

The world tells us stuff can solve our problems. Should we try to impress others with our house or car? Jesus had a word on that, too:

“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15, NIV)

What really matters then? We're getting closer to the truth.

What really matters: Timeless principles

The only place to discover what really matters is none other than the Bible. If you just let out a monstrous snort, then you're going to learn some facts about this book you never knew before.

Consider these truths you'll find in the Bible:

  • Facts on who God is and what he wants;
  • An agenda based entirely on God's love for you;
  • Guidance from the wisest Being in existence;
  • Timeless principles unaffected by cultural change;
  • Real-life examples to learn from;
  • Specific commands and instructions to follow;
  • A path that leads to eternal life.

Can you name another resource that provides those things? People who ignore the Bible claim it is outdated since it was written so long ago. Would an all-wise God do something as stupid as that? I think not.

The advice in the Bible was intended to be timeless, and it is. No matter how advanced civilization becomes, human nature stays the same. No one knows the human heart like God, who created it.

Godless rich people or evil people may seem to prosper now, but God is a just God and nothing escapes his notice. Scripture says a Final Judgment is coming. Those who follow Christ need not worry. Those who do not will be lost forever.

Specific qualities that will always matter

What kind of person do you want to be? Can you look to TV shows or your employee handbook or some self-help guru to show you the right thing to do?

Consider these qualities and whether you'd like to acquire them:

If you're a Christian, these virtues are the Fruit of the Spirit, listed in Galatians 5:22-23. The closer you follow Jesus Christ, the more the Holy Spirit can develop these traits in your personality. They're the product of sanctification, or becoming holy, a mysterious process, that takes desire on your part. The good news is most of the heavy lifting comes as a gift of God.

Left to our own inclinations, every human being would drift into sin, but if we surrender to the rightful authority of Jesus over our life, we will go the other direction, becoming more and more like him.

Let's not get confused

While the Bible matters very much in the life of a Christian, its worth is eclipsed by something else: God himself.

It's striking that God made us for himself so he can love us and we can love him in return. Think about that for a moment. Singles with low self-esteem can't believe they were created out of love. They see nothing lovable in themselves, but God—the all-seeing, all-knowing God—sees qualities in us no one else can see, even ourselves.

Here's how you know God really matters: People who refuse to worship God are forever trying to fill the hole in their heart with other things, and no matter what they try, nothing fits. They keep bouncing from one supposed "solution" to another. Just as you can't fit a square peg in a round hole, you can't fit a material object or relationship into the hole in your heart that God designed for himself.

What really matters most? God. Seek him as the greatest good and your life will never be the same.

As St. Augustine so poignantly put it:

"You have made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they can find rest in you."

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