“The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.
Lord, Your love is eternal; do not abandon the work of your hands.”
A buzzword in the secular world and the Christian circle, “fulfill” is often used with the connotation of giving meaning. We enter certain tasks and ministries to feel fulfilled. We seek jobs that are fulfilling. In our eyes, tasks and relationships that feel fulfilling are the ones that matter.
For many of us, feelings of fulfillment are a measure of meaningfulness.
That’s not what Scripture says. Meaning and fulfillment are in fact very different. Meaning is about worth, fulfilling is about purpose.
The difference matters. We let our view be skewed when our motivational words and inspirational sentiments usher truth off of the stage and into the front row. Truth shouldn’t approve of what we believe, it should determine it.
Fulfill Means “Will Perfect”
Bear with me as we break this down, it’s really cool!
A Hebrew verb, “fulfill” in Psalm 138:8 is also translated “will perfect.” The Lord will be at work on us, bringing us to perfection- to the best that He has for us. To be fulfilled is to be perfected by Christ.
The verse reads in more directly translated Hebrew “The Lord will perfect what concerns me.”
“Concerns me” is a preposition. It isn’t a verb or a noun like worry. Nor is it an adjective describing a feeling. This prepositional term is also translated “through.”
“The Lord will perfect me through…Lord, do not abandon the work of your hands.”
This fulfilling of our purpose in the Lord is carried out through the work of His hands. It is through His working that we are perfected.
Fulfill Means “To Accomplish”
God’s work in our lives is productive. So much of what we accomplish in our daily lives seems unfulfilling when it comes to meaningfulness or value. Laundry, menial tasks like driving from place to place, even routine conversations fail to infuse our lives with a sense of meaning. But they aren’t designed to give meaning in the first place. (Though meaning can be brought to them in prayer and in doing all unto the Lord.)
In the meantime, God accomplishes much in us even in the menial. The Spirit, working through us, can even accomplish much with such unfulfilling things as our failures, weaknesses, and disappointments. Because in those things, His will can still be accomplished. The great achievement- His glory- can still be had.
Fulfill Means “To Bring to An End”
In her post earlier this week, Lois wrote about a dream ending- her book, out of print. She described decrease and disappearing from being known and from the sort of achievement-place that many of us work to be in. But Lois found that meaningfulness did not cease when one “purposed project” came to an end.
That’s what fulfill is about. The bringing to an end, to completion, of what the Lord has purposed. Full-fill. Filled full. And intended to be!
When the Lord fulfills something in us, He brings to capacity a purpose He has had from the beginning.
We’re made by God for a purpose. He doesn’t start out with a slab of wood and take chunks out here and there until finally a shape emerges, something worthwhile. In putting His hands on us and getting to work, He sets out with a purpose and He won’t stop until it is finished. Even when we fail, He finds worth in us because of Christ, and He continues until His purpose is accomplished.
Our lives have meaning. What we do has meaning- eternally! Not because of our effort or our purposes, but because He is. He is right now in the process of fulfilling all He has set out to do, working all for good and for His glory.
As we look for fulfillment in our lives, let’s look no further than Christ.
He died and three days later rose again. This was not to fulfill a dream of taking over the world. His triumph over death was not to fulfill a goal of giving long philosophical treatises on the meaning of life. He rose again just to give us eternal life itself, along with hope and purpose.
Truly these verses agree:
We must decrease, that He might increase. He doesn’t not abandon the work of His hands- decreased as He whittles away and His glory fills the space. Rather, He fulfills. He fills until full the purposes He has for us, that He might increase all the more. That- His glory- is where meaning is found.
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