A group of theologians and divines came together in 1646 to pen the famed Westminster Shorter Catechism. When questioning man’s ultimate purpose, the men settled on the following statement, which has lived in Christian lore since: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.”
Just a few years later, the Puritan preacher Thomas Watson grabbed hold of this beautiful statement, and expanded on it, declaring, “God’s glory is the silver thread which must run through all our actions.” Around the same time Johann Sebastian Bach said, “The aim and final reason of all music should be to glorify God and refresh the mind. Where this is not observed, there will be no real music, only devilish hubbub.”
If these men are correct, and God’s glory is our final joy and recourse, then we must place special emphasis in knowing God’s glory, and determining how best to aim at its outcome in our life!
Sadly, most modern Christians ignore God’s glory, choosing instead to live for their own satisfactions. And others yet, sit sidelined, reminiscing that, “God’s glory will happen regardless of (my) choices.” Both camps are wrong, although for very different reasons – The camp which says, “I am god!” rebels based on its selfish lust. The camp which says, “God will do as God will do therefore I need not try,” rebels based on its lazy obedience. They are correct that their life will advance God’s glory, as all creation will, but that is a far cry from taking aim at God’s glory. Let both be warned, God’s wrath falls on the ignorant sinner AND the unfaithful slave!
Instead, every true follower of Christ must take pure and full-hearted aim at God’s glory. When the mighty Spurgeon commented on Watson’s Body of Divinity[i] he added, “God must be the terminus ad quem, the ultimate end of all actions!” The true Christian must unceasingly ask himself one very important question: “Why am I engaging in such and such an act?” If he can answer this well, his mind will be put at peace. His thoughts, his words, and his actions, must all be brought under the filter of God’s ultimate approval.
How Can You Aim at God’s Glory?
- By Preferring His Glory. Evaluate the money you spend, the home you buy, the friendships you build, the entertainment you seek, and the food you eat; and ask if God’s glory comes in competition with any of them. If any of these earthly elements lie in your path to heaven, you must either, “leap over them or tread upon them!”[ii]
- By Accepting His Plan. If the Lord has made you out to be a loser for a time, but His honor is a winner, be okay with that! What if God should have you be ill that others may profit from your testimony? What if He should allow your persecution so others receive His truth? So be it! Be content to suffer, and like Christ whisper, “Not as I will, but as you will.” [Matt 26:39]
- By Allowing Others Shine. There will be many times you witness God use another as His instrument of choice. This other person will bring many lives to His Son, parent children of high regard, thrive in social circles, receive accolades, and radically impact the world for peace and justice. You must not allow jealousy set in! If God is exalted, who are you to covet? Instead, be like Paul, who rejoiced even when others preached from envy and spite! [Phil 1:15]
- By Confessing Sin. A humble confession exalts God! How dare you approach God with demands and censure? I often hear immature people reproach God saying, “How could you do this?” or, “Show Yourself to me!” Please know my friend, that you and I are blessed to have another breath, let alone heaven! Be sure to approach God with tears in the eye instead of weapons in the hand! The thief on the cross had dishonored God all his life, but at his death he brought God glory by confession of sin. [Luke 23:41] “God’s free grace is magnified in crowning those who deserve to be condemned!”[iii] Your confession will glorify God because it outwardly confesses God as clean and you as dirty, God as infinite, and you as small.
- By Bearing Much Fruit. “…My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit.” [John 15:8] To be a barren tree dishonors God but to be fruitful blesses Him! Interestingly, it is not a profession of faith that glorifies God, but fruit of faith that glorifies God. Alarmingly, countless modern church-goers believe they can have Christ as Savior but never follow and serve Him as Lord! What good is a vineyard of seeds that don’t grow? What farmer would keep those seeds around? Would he not uproot them and cast them out? No, it is faith that sanctifies our works, and works testify of our faith! So, are you more Christ-like today than yesterday? Are you more honest? Are you bolder? Are you more loving? How many others have seen the Good News of Scripture represented in your life?
- By Staying Put. God is most glorified in you, when you are most satisfied in Him! If you constantly strive for the next “big thing,” and cannot rest peaceably in His powerful arms, you reject His power, and thereby do not bring Him honor. What good is a King when his subjects don’t believe in His power? You are a blight on God’s glory by distrusting Him! An entire generation strives to have what their online friends seem to have, but never stop, work, and wait on God! “A good Christian argues thus: It is God that has put me in this condition; He could have raised me higher, if he pleased, but that might have been a snare to me: He has done this in wisdom and love; therefore I will sit down satisfied with my condition. For one to be content when he is in heaven is no wonder; but to be content under the cross is a true Christian!”[iv]
- By Walking Cheerfully. It brings God glory when you endure difficult circumstances with hope. The people of God can be cheerful when others would not be; they are justified, adopted, and sanctified to a heavenly home, regardless of their earthly lot, and this brings music from within. “It reflects upon a master when the servant is always drooping and sad; apparently his master does not give him what is fitting; so, when God’s people hang their heads, it looks as if they did not serve a good master, or regretted of their choice, which reflects dishonor on God.”[v] Christian, when you walk around gloomy, you reflect on your Master, and on His Good News.
- By Refuting Prestige. King Herod spoke and the people shouted, “It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.” Sadly, Herod didn’t quell them, taking all the glory on himself. You may remember the rest of the story? “Immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory, and he was eaten by worms.” [Acts 12:23] Like Paul, King David, and countless others, you must give God the glory for every success! “As the silkworm, when she weaves her curious work, hides herself under the silk; so when we have done anything praiseworthy, we must hide ourselves under the veil of humility.”[vi] How often we observe political figures or stars of the screen revel in their accomplishments; inside we are sickened. But, if we look closely enough in the mirror, we see that we are sickened by them, because that same pride rests in us! If the Hollywood lights glittered for us with all that is gold, we too would accept the applause, we too would smile into the lights, we too would accept the envelope of accolades; this frightens us… and, well it should.
[i] Thomas Watson, Body of Divinity, 1692, Reprint Banner of Truth 1958 pp.10-16