Most people ask that question at some point in their lives. Some believe the answer is random chance—that there is no purpose to the universe. Others, including those who believe in a Christian God, answer that God created us for His purposes. The first question in the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man?” with the answer being, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.”
This past week I was reading through Isaiah when I came to chapter 43. I think that Isaiah 43:1 – 7 is my favorite passage in the entire Bible. (Read these verses and think about how much God loves you.)
I’ve read this passage many, many times, but what really caught my attention this time was verse 7:
“… whom I created for My glory, ….”
We exist to bring God glory. It’s not about us at all.
To be honest, when I read this my first thought was, “Isn’t God a bit presumptuous to want all the glory for Himself—what’s in that for me?”
Not very spiritual of me, was it?
However, I had a hunch that God, being perfect, probably wasn’t being presumptuous, so I asked Him to explain. He suggested that I think about my own children.
Do I want my kids to be happy? Of course I do. Now pretend that I’m the most awesome, amazing, loving creature in the entire universe. I want what’s best for my children, and the best I have to offer them is… me! And the more glory—high renown or honor—that I receive, the more they and other people will want to come and be blessed by me. God’s glory attracts us, to our own benefit.
Then I considered that God is the only Person in existence who is really worthy of all that glory. Olympic champions don’t tell the person awarding the gold medal that, gosh, I’m not that good, I don’t deserve to get a medal—do they?No! They stand on that podium looking pretty proud and pleased with themselves. And they should; they earned their moment of glory. So why should God act humble? He has nothing to be humble about!
Given that our entire purpose in life is to glorify God, I then started to wonder—how do we glorify God? That isn’t something we automatically learn as we grow up, yet it appears to be the most important issue we face!
Some people try to glorify God by helping the poor. Others become evangelists or missionaries. And still others become pastors, teachers, or other Christian leaders. Those might be ways to make God look good, but it isn’t the specific career or ministry we choose that glorifies God. If we are doing all those good things in our own strength, we’re really just glorifying ourselves.
After much though, I realized that, on our own, we can’t glorify God. It’s just not possible. Rather, we glorify God when we let Him glorify Himself in our lives.
Jesus pointed out that apart from Him we can do nothing of eternal value (see John 15). But if we let the Spirit be in control, everything we do will bring glory to God.
The Spirit might direct us to help the poor, become an evangelist or missionary, etc. Or we might be led into a “secular” field such as business, house cleaning, or teaching. It isn’t what we do, it’s whether we do it on our own, or let God work through us. One wears us out. The other glorifies God. I know which way I’d rather live!