My wife was telling me how when she first came to Christ she was very impressed with the love of Jesus, and how Jesus did so many things to lift her out of a bad place.
Its true, Jesus does lift us out of a bad place. Through Him, we get forgiveness of sins, new life, the hope of heaven, escape from hell, deliverance from the curse, new purpose and so on. Jesus even gives us a place and a function in His kingdom. Sometimes he even gives us a “ministry” – a platform by which we can influence others for Him.
My wife and I were discussing how she eventually got shocked when she realised that despite all this, it was NOT “all about her”, but actually, “all about Jesus”. In fact, after a while, we learn that Jesus did not die on the cross to give us a “great ministry” that we could be seen and admired by others and thereby get our ego “needs” met.
The temptation then came to consider that after all, Jesus did everything “for Himself” that He might receive glory, honor and control – and that this was somehow a “bad thing”. Why could “we” not be in the place of God to set our own agendas, to gain our own honor and glory and so on? With such thoughts even children of God may be tempted from time to time.
I want to address this because it touches on VERY CORE ISSUES that concern the nature of our relationship with God, who God is, and the purpose for which we were created anyway.
It is true that God wants to bless us. He would like to give us grace. It is the nature of God to bless. And we see evidence in people’s lives that Jesus did redeem, that God does bless, that God does forgive, restore, heal, deliver and empower people in every way. But note! WHO is doing this? Who is forgiving, restoring, healing, delivering and empowering people? IT IS GOD. This is why it is ONLY RIGHT that God receive GLORY, HONOR and CREDIT that NO ONE ELSE SHOULD HAVE.
God is the Creator and hence the OWNER of all things. He should be honored for this. It would not be right for ANY OF US to be honored as if we were the Creator. Jesus is the REDEEMER. It is ONLY because of His sacrifice on the cross that we have any chance of finding favor with God. Therefore, once again, it is HE who should be honored and glorified.
The moon may shine on a dark night, but it only shines BECAUSE it reflects the glory of the SUN. Without the sun shining, the moon would have no light. So it is with us. Whatever goodness, light or love that shines from us ONLY DOES SO because of the presence of the SON in us. It is therefore the SON who should be recognized and honored as the SOURCE – NOT US.
God is offended whenever we try to imply that the blessings in our life are really pretty much because of something WE DID. He is offended when we forget the words in Psalm 100, “Know ye that the LORD He is God. It is HE that has made us, and not we ourselves. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.”
Does God do things for Himself or for us? Bad question. God does things for the good of Himself and but also for US who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). God does good for all the created Universe in as much as it is consistent with His righteous character. We WIN ALONG WITH GOD if we go with His program for our lives. God’s purpose then, is to bless those ones who are humble enough to realize their absolute need for God – and in blessing them, God is glorified. God is glorified because He does good and righteous things, and all heaven and earth will one day see and understand.
An example of this reality can be seen in the words of Paul, “All the promises of God are Yes and Amen in Him, to the glory of God, through us”. (2 Corinthians 1:20). What this means is that God gives promises to US which are FOR HIS GLORY and BENEFIT. God is glorified WHEN WE RECEIVE THE PROMISES. But note this: we ALSO benefit greatly when we receive the promises of God when they work for us.
Another example of this principle is found in Isaiah 61:3
“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, THAT HE MIGHT BE GLORIFIED.”
It is even better to read this in context – because the context is the messianic gospel ministry of Jesus and later those who go in His name. But note, all these things that God is doing for us, which are GREAT THINGS, and which are REAL BLESSINGS, are for the RIGHTEOUS PURPOSE that HE – the Creator, Redeemer and PROVIDER of all grace and goodness, MIGHT BE GLORIFIED. This is good, because it is RIGHT.
At the heart of Lucifer’s rebellion was the desire to reach out for SOMETHING MORE that was NOT RIGHTLY HIS and in the process take away from GOD what was His alone. Lucifer wanted the glory and authority that belonged to God alone. We can read about this in Isaiah 14:12-15:
12 “ How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer,[b] son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
You who weakened the nations!
13 For you have said in your heart:
‘ I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.’
15 Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
To the lowest depths of the Pit.
Let us take note, and not become PROUD and FOOLISH and DESTROY OUR SOULS by the same means that Lucifer did, and became our adversary, Satan.
Take time to meditate on God’s right to glory and honor, because if you make it to heaven, you will be singing about it an awful lot. It is good for us to understand now what will be very clear to us THEN.