“MEANS TO AN END” – April 14

April 14, 2013

“O Israel, hope in the Lord!  For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.” Psalm 130:7

It is just a means to an end.

That is a saying that I have uttered on many an occasion.  This saying has been applied to countless insignificant, meaningless, or unpleasant activities that are completed in order to obtain a greater purpose.  The greater purpose is the goal and the lesser activities are the means or method by which the goal is obtained.  It is a principle that is used all the time.

Someone may have a goal of being a corporate CEO.  The means to becoming the CEO is working all the various positions on the corporate ladder as they climb up to obtain the primary goal.  Many of those jobs are not very rewarding.  However, the CEO is the end; all the jobs along the way are the means.  That is why they do them.

Someone may have a goal of becoming an elected official.  The means to getting elected is going to all those political party functions, the “meet and greets”, the shaking hands, and the baby kissing.  Campaigning can be exhausting.  However, being elected is the end; the campaigning is the means.  That is why it is done.

Someone may have the goal of becoming fit.  The means to getting fit is eating less and exercising more.  Working out is not that enjoyable.  Eating less and healthy is not very satisfying.  However, being fit is the end; working out and watching what you eat is the means.  That is why it is done.

I think that everyone understands that it takes means to reach desired ends.  However, there is a problem when we allow this mentality to drift into our relationships.

People are never means.  People are always ends.

English: Broken Heart symbolThere is so much heartache that comes from people being treated as means to achieve some other end.  People are often tossed aside when they have served their purpose.

The friend who is no longer called because better ones have been found;

The girlfriend who is dumped after she has given herself;

The boyfriend who is broken off because there are better options;

The colleague who is abandoned since he is no longer of an advantage;

The friendship that is pursued because of connections;

The spouse who is left for a new source of happiness.

It is an unloving attitude to treat another person as a means; to treat them as a pawn in a grand strategy of obtaining a greater purpose.  We are told that the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself.  The goal for every person who we engage is to encourage, edify, teach, and train.  The people with whom we interact should be better for that experience.  They should be more joyful, more peaceful, and happier; they should feel like they have experienced kindness, gentleness, and goodness.  They should know that they are loved after they have spent time with us.  That is our end with other people.  Our neighbor’s best is the end; love is the means.

In much the same way, God is never the means. God is always the end.

Many people seek out God to get something.  They come to Him with expectations and when those expectations are not fulfilled they leave Him.

They seek God to make their life better;

They want God to repair their marriage and/or relationships;

They want God to give them wealth and connections;

They want God to make them feel better about themselves;

They want God to keep them out of hell.

They seek God for the purpose of obtaining those other things.  They are not seeking God because He is God.  We are told that the greatest commandment is to love God.  Our primary purpose is to bring glory to God for who He is and what He has done.  We bring God the greatest glory that is possible from us when we love Him with all that we are, think, and do.  Bringing God the glory that He is due is the end; our love is the means.

In God’s plan, I am never the end; I am always the means.

I put myself in a bad place when I make myself an end.  I was never intended to be my own personal end.  I cannot be following the greatest of commandments when I have made myself an end.

We are making ourselves the end when we say things like, “I deserve <fill in the blank>; to be loved, to be happy, to be respected, to be appreciated, to be acknowledged, to be rewarded, to be feared.  The results of not having our blank filled in, the way we want, is often anger, jealousy, envy, gossip, and coveting. Those sins are the fruit of making ourselves the end. We were never intended to be our own personal end; we have always been the means for showing love to God and others.

The good news is that we do not have to feel left out.  One of the blessings of Christian community, as God intended, is that other believers will be interacting with you as their end.  They will be showing you love as their means of encouraging and edifying you. This is one of the reasons that living within the Church, the body of Christ, is so important to our souls.  It is when we pull away from those whose end is our best that we begin to start looking out for ourselves and our own personal ends; only bad results will come from that.  We need to allow the means of other believers to work to their desired ends in our lives.

Now, we all know that the church is imperfect.  Other believers can let us down.  Other Christians often have their ends very confused and do a horrible job of loving their neighbors.  We can come away after interacting with some church folk and be discouraged and feeling unloved.  We need to learn to forget ourselves and understand that they don’t owe us anything.  Their actions are often the result of sin and/or immaturity.  Remember, they are our end; not our means.  We do not need to rely upon them.  We can rest assured that we will never be left abandoned in an emotional wasteland.  God is always for us.

We are God’s end; His love is the means.

We are children of God.  There is nothing that can prevent Him from showing His love to His children.  He knows what we need.  He knows that we need His peace, contentment, encouragement, and love.  He knows how to give His children good gifts.  When we make ourselves our personal ends, we are declaring our unbelief in the sufficiency of God.

We can trust God to fulfill us.

We can trust God to sustain our self-esteem.

We can trust God to give us happiness.

We are in the hands God.  He is merciful and gracious; slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  He is faithful and can be trusted with our emotional well-being.  It is a small thing for the creator of the universe to fill you and me with joy.

We just need to trust Him with our hearts.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for showing me your steadfast love.  Thank you for not leaving me to rely upon myself.  Thank you for being sufficient in all ways.  Lord, help be to show your love to my neighbors.  Forgive me for being manipulative of other people and not loving them like I should.  Lord, I pray that I will be a blessing to all those I meet and that they will feel loved by your steadfast love flowing through me. Amen.


  1. This was just so good, JD. Thank you for breaking it down this way. God bless you!

  2. Thank you for this post. This is a beautiful message.

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