Pastor Tim Keller writes in Gospel Christianity, “In the simplest terms possible, to glorify God means to make Him the most important thing in your life.”
One simple question: is He? Is He the most important thing in your life? Upon reflection, I guess that question is not so simple after all! To answer in the affirmative you have to trust Him more than anything else and to obey Him unconditionally. Hold it right there….”Trust Him more than anything else?” Does that mean you have to trust Him more than your own wisdom? That you trust Him more than conventional wisdom? That you trust Him more than your best friend, husband, mother or father?
Furthermore, one must also obey Him unconditionally! Now, who can do that? Obeying Him is not so hard or “bad” when it doesn’t come at personal cost. When I must say “no” to something I really didn’t want to do anyway. Obeying Him is unbelievably hard when I have to deny myself and my own desires for righteousness sake.
We can be pretty good at that denial stuff in certain areas but no one has it down in all areas of life. I would hazard a guess that most of you reading this could think of a number of areas you would struggle with obedience in- simply because they go against the desires of your heart.
I will lead the way and disclose that one place I struggle with is food. Both the eating and not eating of food. I want to eat things I like that just happen to be chips, salsa, sweets, pastry and junk like that. My heart is indulged and pleased by these choices because my desires are being fulfilled. I want what I want and I get what I want in this case.
I also struggle on the other end, where I would prefer at times to not eat at all, for days or weeks. I simply don’t feel like it. Sometimes it is because something is bothering me and I use it as an excuse to indulge my sinful heart, other times I am listening to my feelings rather than truth. But in this case too, I want what I want and I will have what I want.
Both of these actions are disobedience. I am not obeying God unconditionally in these situations, I am living for self. I am not giving thought to whether my actions are enhancing or detracting from God’s honor and glory.
When I disobey I am finding my joy and pleasure in something other than God and I am not finding my satisfaction in Him and Him alone. He is not my joy and my desire. When I choose to indulge myself, my own desires and wants rather than obeying God I must conclude that I am not finding my ultimate joy and satisfaction in Him.
Pastor Tim Keller says that when we are glorifying God that we will “find in Him our deepest satisfaction” and (in my opinion) that is what encourages us to obey Him. I am ascribing Him worth and value and making a decision that He is greater than myself. (1 Chron. 16:25-26)
What I place a high value on is what or who I cherish and care for and am willing to sacrifice my own wants and perceived needs for. Sometimes, I am willing to sacrifice real needs for the sake or benefit of another person. This means I am taking my focus off myself and putting it on another, willingly. There is little within an unredeemed heart that would so such a thing.
In Peter’s first epistle he says that we have been elected (chosen) to obey God and the Spirit changes us (sanctifies us) to cause us to carry out being obedient (1:2). He goes on to teach us a few important truths in the following verses:
You should be glad about this (salvation and sanctification) even if now you may have to be sad because of many trials so that the testing of your faith…may be found to praise and honor God at His revelation.” 1 Peter 1:6-7 Christian Counselor’s New Testament Version, my emphasis added.
In times of testing we give ourselves permission to disobey God. A suffering or stressed person is able to morally rationalize and justify their sin as being an outpouring of the duress they are under. To make matters worse, we condone it. We aid their sinfulness by clucking our tongues and sympathizing with them emotionally. In so doing we are throwing out all the lessons God is trying to teach that person.
Peter specifically says that our testing , the testing of our faith, is for the purpose of bringing praise and honor to Jesus as we obey and persevere through the suffering. If we are not obeying, He is not receiving glory.
I must then ask myself, why He is not enough? Why can’t I find my satisfaction in Him alone? Why is it not enough for me to have God be glorified as a result of my suffering and misery?
I don’t claim to have this answer here and now, at least not the entire answer. The part that I do have is that He is not enough because my heart still has places that are full to the brim with “ME” and those places have a No Trespassing sign hung out to boot. Maybe that is the entire answer, I don’t know yet. The reason I am not willing to undergo many kinds of trials is because no matter how much glory God could receive, I do not value Him enough to go through it for that purpose alone.
No one is suggesting self-harm here…some form of asceticism or anything of the kind. God does not require my suffering to please Him but He does use it as a vehicle to reveal my heart and where it lies with respect to Himself.
I am not happy with what I see in me as a result of this revelation. I find I still have so very, very far to go on this road of sanctification. I long to be finished with this process and be able to live conformed to the image of Christ- for the glory of God.