Living to glorify God, not ourselves
Our desire to build a secure nest egg consumes a lot of our energy and time. But what if we lost everything overnight? The Bible reminds us that worldly possessions will never last, compared to heavenly treasure. We build treasures in heaven by bringing God glory in everything we do.
Matthew 6:19-20 ESV “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
All of us are guilty of being shortsighted when it comes to our personal “investments”, thinking that the only timeline that matters is our time on earth rather than our personal eternities.
A love for the world, and all that it has to offer, can corrupt even the sincerest Christian. Once, a dentist who had just come back from a mission trip said, “My professional time is worth a lot of money. Why don’t I calculate the monetary value of the time I spent on this mission trip as my tithe for this month?” Sadly, this Christian wasn’t joking. He treated his service for God as a trade. Thankfully, God is not as calculating as this believer, because He would have never sacrificed His Son on the cross for us otherwise.
Before we shake our heads at this example, we need to inspect our own hearts for ways that we too are self-centred and calculative towards God. There may be times where we have:
- Been disappointed that we don’t get more recognition when we serve at church.
- Gone to church fellowship to look for a spouse.
- Tried to use church to make business contacts.
- Gone back to work on a Sabbath day of holy rest.
- Attended church so our children can be admitted to a good Christian school.
- Refused to make time for others because our work came first.
- Neglected to tithe.
- Delayed being water baptised because someone in our family objected to it.
- Been frustrated when God didn’t give us the things we want.
- Told God that we would only do certain things for Him if He made some things happen for us first.
Judas Iscariot was a person who served God for his own benefit. As treasurer for Jesus’ ministry, he would steal from the ministry money for himself. It is truly tragic that Judas spent so much time in the presence of God and yet was blinded by temporal earthly gains.
Interestingly, Jesus did not banish Judas from His ministry, even though God knew all along that he was a thief. Moreover, God would have certainly forgiven Judas if he repented for betraying Jesus. (All sins are pardonable except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit). That is how amazing our God is.
Beware the idols in our hearts
God prioritises a relationship with us so much that He will go to any means to bring His people back to Him – including allowing His own Son to be tortured and murdered for our sake.
Such dedication to us deserves the same level of dedication back. The Bible calls us to live our lives as a living sacrifice to God – as an act of worship, not of duty. When we resist doing so, we can be sure that there are things of this world that have enticed and captured our hearts.
Romans 12:1-2 ESV … present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
The seduction of this world works in three main ways:
- Desires of the flesh – “My comfort, indulgences, happiness and earthly relationships are more crucial to me than God’s will.”
- Desires of the eyes – “My possessions matter more to me than God does.”
- Pride of life – “My interests and status are more important that God’s.”
1 John 2:15-17 ESV Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
Thinking in any of these three ways is a sure sign that we have created idols for ourselves in this world. Such idolatry can prevent us from glorifying God with our lives because we “worship” things over Him.
God did not worship Himself so much that He would stop Himself from sending Jesus to us as our sacrifice. Is it not ironic that we tend to worship our own interests over His?
Why glorify God
God is not an egomaniac that He needs us to give Him glory. All of nature and heaven already glorify Him.
Psalm 19:1 ESV The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Even Jesus Christ did not choose to glorify Himself, despite His great personal sacrifices, but to glorify Father God. Jesus’ heart’s desire is for the Father’s glory, so much so that He promises to answer any of our prayers if we seek to glorify God.
John 14:13 ESV Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
When we glorify God in everything we do, our lives will point people to God. We testify of His goodness and draw more of the lost to Him. When we glorify ourselves first, people don’t get to see God through us.
Matthew 5:16 ESV In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Practical steps in giving God the glory
1. Dedicate everything we do to God
There is nothing that is too trivial to dedicate to God. This includes our meals, daily activities, work, family etc. We can glorify Him by acknowledging and thanking Him for His hand upon every aspect of our lives.
1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
2. Resist glorification
It is healthy to thank people when they appreciate us, but it becomes unhealthy when people start to glorify us and we don’t stop them. We are to seek our exaltations from God, not from people.
Galatians 1:10 ESV For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
3. Acknowledge God in all our ways
We should give God praise for any achievement we have and acknowledge Him as the source of all good things. We can also acknowledge His presence, guidance, healing, peace, comfort and joy in the midst of the toughest trials. He will turn all things for our good and His glory. The more we openly confess our weaknesses, the more God’s glory can shine through us. We demonstrate that it is only through Him that we prosper spiritually.
2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV … I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
4. Be generous
Mankind is naturally selfish and greedy. We can demonstrate God’s glory when we are unconditionally kind and generous to others, because this goes against human nature.
2 Corinthians 9:13 NLT As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ.
5. Live fruitful lives
We glorify God when our lives prosper in Him and we bear the Fruit of the Holy Spirit, regardless of our circumstances.
John 15:8 ESV By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
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