READ – 1 Chronicles 22:5-19
A part of our common human experience is that all of us from time to time ask, “What’s the purpose of it all? What’s the purpose of school? What’s the purpose of my friendships, my marriage? Of having kids? Of work? Of church? Of my life? In the grind of everyday life when we feel like our lives are on repeat; in the losses and disappointments of life, we often find ourselves searching for answers to questions of purpose. Chronicles 22 is one of a few key passages in the Bible given to us as places to go when we need a renewal of purpose. Chapter 22 (and its parallel passage in Chapter 28) is a part of a specific biblical genre called a “Charge.” Scholars note that David’s charge to Solomon and the leaders of Israel is filled with connections to the other major biblical charges: Moses to Joshua (Deut. 31:1-8 and Joshua 1:1-9), Jesus to his disciples (John 14:25-31, Matthew 28:18-20) and Paul to Timothy (2 Timothy).
SUMMARY: We need to be reminded of the things that keep us from and lead us toward discovering our purpose in life.
WHAT KEEPS US FROM DISCOVERING OUR PURPOSE
1. SELF-CENTERDNESS - David begins his charge (v5) by telling Solomon about his own journey from self-centeredness to God-centeredness. In Chapter 17, when David decided that building the temple would be his great purpose in life, God told David, “Right vision, wrong purpose.” David would not build the temple; instead, he would prepare for his son to build it. This was deeply humbling for David since all successful kings at this time considered temple-building their crowning achievement. Chronicles 22-29 are all about David embracing his God-given part in God’s greater purpose. Verse 5 shows us how he was able to do this - he learned that his purpose was about God’s glory and fame, not his; the house he would prepare was for God’s name, not his (v7-8, 10, 19).
What we learn from this is God chooses our purpose, not us. We are meant to first discover God’s purpose for the world and then find our place in it. Our purpose is not something we create; it is something given to us by God. Here is where the temple comes in. It was a symbol and a reminder of the God-centered purpose of Israel. As the center of the nation’s life, it was a reminder that all life revolves around and centers on God. Rather than living a life centered on ourselves, the temple shows us our purpose is to: 1) Make God’s presence and glory central to all of our lives. 2) Take God’s presence and glory into all of my life and to all the earth.
2. FEAR - The second thing that keeps us from discovering God’s purpose for us is fear. In verse 13, David tells Solomon, “Be strong and courageous. Fear not; do not be dismayed.” This language is repeated in almost every one of the charges in Scripture. Moses said these exact words to Joshua (twice), Paul to Timothy (ch 2), Jesus to his disciples. What does this tell us? If God’s charges to us repeatedly tell us to be courageous and fear not, it means: 1) God’s purpose for us is to lead us into situations where we will feel weak and afraid 2) Feeling weak and afraid is NOT a sign we are heading the wrong way, in fact it’s the reverse and 3) If we run from or try to avoid fear and weakness, we are likely running away from God’s purpose for us. If God wants to teach us to be cured of self-centeredness, self-reliance and independence so that our lives are centered on love for Him and love for others, one of his main teaching tools is to call us to a purpose we can’t possibly do on our own.
WHAT LEADS US TO REDISCOVERING OUR PURPOSE
1. DISCERNMENT - In verse 12, David tells Solomon “Only [or Above all] may the Lord grant you discretion and understanding… that you may keep the law and be careful to observe his commands.” To discover our purpose and to rediscover it when we’ve lost it, we need discretion and understanding above all. These two words taken together from a pair that could be translated “discernment.” This is an encouragement - if we struggle with the question of purpose, be encouraged - it doesn’t come easily, it’s the reward of careful discernment, reflection and care. This is also a warning, if we always have a quick reply, the perfect tweet, the post and the right answer to everything, we are likely not helping God’s purpose but hurting it.
2. COMMUNITY - The charge David gives is not just to Solomon alone but is given to all the leaders of Israel. This is a national purpose. This is a communal purpose. It cannot be accomplished by 1 person – even someone as powerful, wise, discerning, wealthy and resourced as Solomon. He needs help. From this we learn that purpose requires community. Meaningful purpose + meaningful relationships = a meaningful and satisfying life. This is how God designed us. It’s how God designed the church - to be a community on mission together. Community leads us to, reminds us of and encourages us to stay on course in the purpose God has given us.
3. SACRIFICE - In verse 14, David tells Solomon “with great pains I have provided for the house of the Lord.” The amount of gold and silver listed are astronomical for this time. He tells Solomon, “To these you must add.” David’s sacrifice of his time and wealth was for his son and all of Israel a model for what will lead them into God’s purpose. Purpose is found not holding onto things, not by looking for what we can gain out of life but by giving, losing + sacrifice. It is in giving ourselves away that we find our purpose. Nothing reminds us of this purpose more than heroic sacrifice. Here David was the hero, but his sacrifice was but a faint shadow of the sacrifice of the greater David to come – Jesus. In laying down his life for us, Jesus shows us his great purpose for us – to sacrifice his life to cover our self-centeredness and bring us into the presence of God. No matter how far we have strayed from God’s purpose for us, because of Jesus’ sacrificial love, we can always rediscover God’s forgiving grace and his call to be carriers of this grace into the world.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. What about the sermon most impacted you or left you with questions?
2. Do you struggle with giving God your purposes and dreams and asking him to bless them rather than first finding God’s purpose and asking him to show your part in it? How might this be keeping you from discovering purpose in your life or parts of your life?
3. Where do you feel most afraid, inadequate and weak to make God’s presence and glory central to your life or to take God’s glory and presence to others? Think about your relationships - marriage, parenting, work or an area in need of change in your life. How might God be leading to admit your fear and weakness and pursue his purpose in this area of your life?
4. Do you agree that Christians are not often regarded as bringing a voice of discernment to difficult cultural matters? How can we better demonstrate what discretion and careful thought look like? Where in your life do you most need discernment now?
5. How does heroic sacrifice remind us of our purpose in life? How does Jesus’ sacrificial love for us remind us of why we are here? How does this help us live sacrificially wherever God calls us? (For a story of heroic sacrifice, Read Jack Beaton’s story - http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-jack-beaton-20170803-story.html)