Four words that will change your life

Updated: Jul 4, 2018


I want to give you four words that will change your life. Embrace them, and you will never be the same again. The words are: “What is my outcome?” Through this message I want to encourage you to think in terms of the outcome rather than the process; the destination rather than the journey; the end rather than the means.


God himself thinks in terms of outcomes. In the words of Isaiah, He “declares the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done” (Isa. 46:10). And to Jeremiah He said, Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jer. 1:5).

The Bible also says that “without a vision (an understanding of one’s purpose and destiny) people wander aimlessly” (Prov. 29:18). As any farmer will tell you, the process of sowing is long and difficult, and if one forgets the purpose and loses sight of the goal (the harvest), it is very tempting to give up.


The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus endured the cross (the process) by focusing on the joy that was set before him (the outcome) – Heb. 12:2. Likewise, Moses endured the wrath of Pharaoh and the rigours of the wilderness (the process) by seeing him who is invisible and looking to the reward (the outcome) – Heb. 11:26-27. Even the apostle Paul used the certainty of the outcome as motivation to help him endure the process:


For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).


Logidzomai, the Greek word translated ‘consider’, is an accounting term that denotes the calculation of the profit or loss of a particular thought or action. In other words, Paul calculated the hardness of the process he was going through, and then compared it with the glory of the ultimate outcome, and decided that it was definitely worth every drop of blood, sweat and tears!


Paul used various sporting analogies to depict the life of faith, including boxing, wrestling, and athletics. As any athlete knows, considerable preparation is required before one can compete successfully. And preparation involves training. And training is a process that is often long, hard and unenjoyable!


Now no discipline or chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed (Heb. 12:12-13).


I want you to notice two words in this passage of scripture: ‘present’ and ‘afterward’. Present refers to the process we are going through; afterward refers to the desired outcome. It’s the knowledge of what’s coming afterward that helps us endure the present.


Imagine, for example, that you a swimmer preparing for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. What motivates you to get up at 4am every morning, brave the elements, and swim endless laps in the pool? What motivates you to adhere to a rigorous diet and exercise regime? What motivates you to curtail your social life and focus exclusively on your career? A clear vision of the desired outcome! The honour of representing your country and winning a gold medal!


To make it through the wilderness and enter the promised land, you have to focus on the outcome!


Israel got so caught up in the process of getting through the wilderness, they lost sight of the outcome – entering the promised land. Through his servant Moses, God had painted the picture for them – a bountiful land, flowing with milk and honey, blessed with the rain of heaven. But instead of focusing on this wonderful outcome which would have made it all worthwhile, they whinged and complained every step of the way.


“Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full; For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger” (Ex. 16:3). And as a result, the Lord was not pleased with them and their bodies were scattered in the wilderness (1 Cor. 10:5).


In contrast, the apostle Paul spoke about “forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, and pressing toward the goal” (Phil. 3:13-14). He led an outcome-focused, purpose-driven life. No wonder the man is revered as the greatest overcomer of his generation!


When times are tough, ask yourself “What is my outcome?”


The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus endured the cross (the process) by focusing on the joy that was set before him (the outcome) – Heb. 12:2. Likewise, Moses endured the wrath of Pharaoh and the rigours of the wilderness (the process) by seeing him who is invisible and looking to the reward (the outcome) – Heb. 11:26-27. Even the apostle Paul used the certainty of the outcome as motivation to help him endure the process:


When everything seems to be going wrong, ask yourself “What is my outcome?”

When you’re tired and discouraged, ask yourself “What is my outcome?”

When the weight of the world is on your shoulders, ask yourself “What is my outcome?”

For that’s when you’ll hear the voice of the Spirit deep inside you, redirecting your focus and reminding you of your outcome. “For he,” said Jesus, “will tell you things to come” (John 16:13).

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