Set the Highest Goal

By Marjorie Foerster Eddington

Have you set any goals for the new school year? Perhaps to maintain a certain grade point average, make new friends, help your sports team win the championship … ? The goals that we set help determine the direction, the purpose, and the successes of our lives. So it’s important to pick great and significant goals, not just good goals. Good goals do keep us on track, help us avoid temptations, and focus our thought and efforts. But setting high goals tends to enable us to exceed ordinary expectations.

So what is the very best goal we can set? Paul, the apostle, offered a goal over 2000 years ago. No other goal can beat it. “Let love be your highest goal,” wrote Paul to the young church members in Corinth (1 Cor 14:1 NLT). Love is more important than getting a 4.0 G.P.A., landing a spot on student government, winning an athletic championship, getting the lead in the play, and certainly more important than being popular.

That’s not to say that we should not set goals in academics, athletics, the arts, student government, etc. (Notice, that popularity is not on the list of significant goals.) They are. It’s just that they are not the “highest goal.” Love is. And Paul defends his choice so expertly, explaining the staying power and effect of love (1 Cor 13). In fact, he argues that if he has great and incredible gifts—such as eloquence, the power of prophecy, faith to move mountains, generosity to the poor—but does not have love, he is “nothing.” Nothing. Woe! If we can accomplish great and awesome things but do so without love, we are nothing.

So how do we make love our number one goal, especially in a world that values material success? What does a life with a goal of love look like?

We make sure that every goal we set is motivated by love.

  • Am I doing this for God or for myself?
  • Am I taking this class just so my college application will look good or because I really do love this subject area or want to do something to better the world?
  • Will getting a 4.0+ make me more loving? How will I handle the pressure of taking five A.P. classes?
  • When my sibling interrupts me when I’m writing a really important essay or practicing my musical instrument for a concert, how do I respond?
  • When my parents ask me to do something when I'm about to do something else, how can I speak and communicate with love (not irritation)?

In essence: Will this activity make me a more loving person? Can I do this activity lovingly, with God at the center? Or, if I get caught up in this activity, will I lose God as the center and think more of myself or of material gains? Jesus affirms, “You cannot serve God and mammon [money, possessions, fame, status, or whatever is valued more than the Lord]” (Matt 6:24 AMP).

So if we want to live a life that makes us feel good about ourselves, helps us achieve what really matters in life, helps move mountains, and has a positive impact on the world, then we want to set LOVE as our highest goal.

That means everything we do, we do with love. Everything. We love to speak gently with our siblings and parents; and we love to take time out to make them feel good. We do our homework with love. We enjoy doing the dishes. We have fun practicing. We are glad to work on that speech. We are grateful to do conditioning for athletics. We embrace every activity with love. We have enough love to talk to the person who doesn’t talk with anyone. We express love as we work and play. Every interaction we have with others is motivated and characterized by love.

Wow. Wouldn’t that feel great? We would have no regrets. We would only be a blessing to others. So let’s set Love as our #1 goal, and all the other goals, activities, relationships will fall into place.