“Be serious and frequent in the examination of your heart and life. . . . Every evening review your carriage through the day; what you have done or thought that was unbecoming your character. . . . Have a special care of two portions of time, namely, morning and evening; the morning to forethink what you have to do, and the evening to examine whether you have done what you ought. Let every action have reference to your whole life, and not to a part only. Let all your subordinate ends be suitable to the great end of your living. Exercise yourself unto godliness.” – John Wesley
Who have you known in your life that has come closest to practicing John Wesley’s discipline of reflecting each day in the morning about what you have to do, and again in the evening about how well you did it? For me I suspect my maternal grandmother – who I’ve mentioned numerous times in these articles – must have had such a discipline for she sure lived as if she did. She was as clear about the “great end” of her living as anyone I’ve ever known, which was loving God and loving other people. For her nothing else mattered much unless it pertained to that purpose. And I think because of that she was consistently one of the most joyful people I’ve ever known.
Too many of us I’m afraid either live in survival mode or at best we get up each day and simply respond to what comes our way, unclear of our true purpose or the “great end” of our living as Wesley referred to it. Why do you suppose Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life became one of the most popular books in recent years? Could it have to do with that longing for clarity of purpose we all have? It’s nothing new, for as Warren reminds us, it “has puzzled people for thousands of years.” Why? “That’s because we typically begin at the wrong starting point . . .” he explains.
So what is the right starting point? It’s quite simple actually, revealed in the opening sentence of Rick Warren’s book. Here’s what he says: “It’s not about you.” That’s right, it’s not about ourselves. Instead it’s about loving God and loving other people as my grandmother did. It’s the secret to a joyful and purpose filled life, and it works for everyone – people of every race, creed, religious doctrine and life circumstance. It’s the “great end of your living”. Thus be serious and frequent in the examination of your heart.