Living intentionally means to purposefully pursue the life God has called you to live. Intentionality requires deliberate action. God is intentional and he has called us to be the same.
God didn’t create the world by accident or chance. He did not make us at random. Long before we were even a thought in our parents’ minds, God knew about us.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.Psalm 139:13-16 ESV
In Psalm 139:13-16, the Psalmist praises God for his intentionality in creating human beings. God took an “unformed substance” and created something out of it.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”Jeremiah 1:5 ESV
While explaining his call as a prophet, God tells Jeremiah that he was appointed long before he was conceived in his mother’s womb. God didn’t just know who Jeremiah would be, he planned it.
Likewise, God has a plan for your life and he wants you to be intentional about it.
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God has a purpose for our lives
I’m sure you’ve probably heard this a million times but it’s true: God has a purpose for our lives. His purpose is for us to live for him and glorify him in everything we do.
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.Ecclesiastes 12:13 ESV
This is the reason why we were created. We must choose to intentionally pursue this purpose each day.
God’s version of intentionality vs. the world’s version of intentionality
The world tells us that living intentionally means to work hard at creating the life we want. Make all the lists, buy all the planners, and land the perfect job. It will have you burnt out and burdened down because no matter how hard you work, you can’t live intentionally without putting God first.
Biblical intentionality on the other hand involves making a daily choice to glorify God through our lives.
God’s version of intentionality gives us purpose and direction. It eliminates the need for striving. We simply follow him and walk according to his will.
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What does the Bible say about living with intention?
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.Galatians 5:25 ESV
In a nutshell, this is what it means to live with intention. We keep in step with God’s spirit. We follow him closely and go where he chooses to lead us.
If I try to carve a life for myself, failure is inevitable. However, if I let the Spirit lead me, my life will have purpose and meaning. While we have limited perspectives, God has an infinite perspective. He sees and knows everything. He knows what is best for us. If we “keep in step with the Spirit,” we will most certainly live out the purpose God has for us.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.Ephesians 5:15-16 ESV
Here the Apostle Paul reminds us to live our lives carefully and with wisdom. He encourages us to make the most of the time we have to live for Jesus. The days are evil and we have an opportunity to shine the light of Jesus into the world.
Now, this doesn’t mean to be hyper-spiritual. It just means, if you’re going to lunch with a co-worker, remember Jesus. If you’re watching a good movie, remember Jesus. If you’re on vacation, remember Jesus.
Enjoy your life but remember God’s purpose for you. Colossians 3:23 reminds us that regardless of what we choose to do in this life, we must remember to glorify God through it.
Why do we sometimes struggle to live intentionally?
Honestly, I see three common reasons why we struggle to live intentionally. We don’t know who we are, we are lukewarm in our faith, or we are running from God.
We don’t know who we are
Think about it. How can one live intentionally when she doesn’t know who she is? We discover who we are by being rooted in Christ and in God’s word. We learn who we are by getting to know God. When we spend time with him, he reveals each “step” that he wants us to take. If you want to live intentionally, get to know God and let him teach you who you are through his word.
We are lukewarm in our faith
A lukewarm Christian has one foot in the world and one foot in the church. They are double minded, and according to James 1:8, “unstable in all [their] ways.” If intentionality means to pursue the purpose God has for us, then intentionality is impossible for a double minded Christian. A person straddling the fence is stuck in one place and cannot move towards any purpose. If you think you might be a lukewarm Christian, decide to choose God or the world. You can’t have both.
We are running from God
You can’t live out God’s purpose for your life if you are running from him. Perhaps you know him and you feel him pulling you towards him, but you choose to ignore his voice. You cannot live intentionally this way. You have to turn back to him and surrender. Recognize that he has the best in mind for you. It won’t always be easy but if you turn to him, your life will have meaning.
If you want to live intentionally, stop listening to popular culture
In 2011, Drake released a song called, “The Motto.” It was meant to encourage young people to enjoy their lives despite the consequences because “you only live once.” The phrase and it’s acronym “YOLO” was repeated among young people all over the country to justify reckless behavior. They figured that since you only live once, you might as well do whatever you want.
Today, many young people still live with this false conviction. We don’t only live once, there is eternity after this. Life has purpose. We’re not making it up as we go. God has a plan for us and that is to live for him and spend our lives (and eternity) glorifying him.
How can you begin living intentionally?
It’s simple. Purse God every day.
I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.Psalm 16:8 ESV
Keep your eyes on God and look to him for direction. Stay in his word. He will show you the way.
I mentioned earlier that we should keep in step with the Spirit. Follow his lead closely and listen to what he tells you to do.
Make an effort to honor him through everything that you do.
Here’s a very practical tip. Consider everything you do, and ask, “Does this honor or dishonor God?”
“Am I doing this to glorify myself (or others) or am I doing this to glorify God?” Even the smallest things should point back to God.
Finally, be purposeful and deliberate in your pursuit of God.
While intentional living is simple, it’s not easy. Life is filled with ups and downs and our hearts need to be constantly renewed and transformed to be like Christ’s. However, if we welcome God to do the transforming even when it’s hard, we will be on the right path to living an intentional life.
So, let me ask you – are you living intentionally? Or are you going through the motions? What would it look like to practically pursue God’s purpose for your life every single day?