I’ve a friend that was recently diagnosed with cancer out of the blue. She’s young and lives a healthy lifestyle. The shock of the news sent waves through her immediate family and close friends that shook us all. Through this time of tests and prognosis, I have undergone an evaluation myself – well, I should really say that my spirit has been convicted by God.
You see, I have many friendships in which I rarely share my faith directly. I rely on good works and Christian values to speak for me. But I find that instead of God receiving the glory – I do. Opportunities come and go for me to ‘give the reason’ for the faith that I have in Jesus Christ and I stand back and let the moment pass as though I were an observer of events rather than a lover of the Author of those events. When I am asked how a good God can let something awful like childhood lukemia or catastrophic disaster happen, I am silent. I’ve compartmentalized my Christian life, placing it safely in our home or with my church community. The futile crumbs of love that I distribute are from the floor rather than from the feast on the table. If I truly love my friends and the God who placed them in my life, I must point them to Him.
John Piper explains the significance of God receiving glory in his book ‘Taste and See”. On page 44, he writes:
God’s loving us is a means to our joyfully glorifying Him. In that sense, God’s love is penultimate: God’s glory is ultimate. You can see this in Romans 15:8-9. ‘Christ became a servant…in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy.’ God has been merciful to us so that we would delight in glorifying Him for his mercy. We see it again in Ephesians 1:4-6, ‘In love (God) predestined us to adoption…to the praise of the glory of His grace.’ The goal of loving us through predestination is that we might have the everlasting joy of praising His grace. We see it again in Psalm 86:12-13, ‘I will glorify Your name forever. For Your lovingkindness toward me is great.’ God’s love is the ground. His glory is the goal.
Why is this important? It’s important because unless we understand this, we will not know what love really is. The love of God is not God’s making much of us, but God’s saving us from self-centered sin so that we can enjoy making much of Him forever. And our love to others is not our making much of them, but our helping them to find eternal satisfaction in making much of God. The only ultimate love is a love that aims at satisfying people in the glory of God. Any love that terminates on man is eventually destructive. It does not lead a person to the only lasting joy, namely God. Love must be God-centered or it is not the greatest love; it leaves people without their deepest need and only hope.
My hope and prayer today is that I will turn the attention back to God and His love, grace, mercy, discipline, instruction, etc. Perhaps crisis in our lives is for the purpose of helping us to see that we do not control the events that affect our lives, God does. And at these critical moments He is waiting patiently to display His power, mercy, forgiveness and grace. I know that at my most desperate moments, I cry out to God to prove that He is faithful to His word – I have even challenged Him to provide the peace that He promised. And it did come, and continues to flow over me when I need it most. God honors His word and waits on us to call out to Him – if need be in desperation, despair, hopelessness, and repentance.
I love because God first loved me first- not in my glory, but when I was still His enemy. Christ made a way of reconciliation for all of us with God. His death paved the way and His righteousness is bestowed upon us if we believe. It is not for me alone – His sacrifice was for the world. Now we can have confidence coming before His throne of mercy and love as His child. Amen.
Let’s glorify God together for what He has done!