February 27, 2018 • Life for Leaders
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
Years ago, when I was serving as the College Director of the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, I got into a fascinating conversation with several of my students. They were sharing with me that living for God seemed to be, in reality, very boring. And boredom was just about the worst thing these collegians could imagine. I tried to make the case that living for God was actually exciting, but I was getting nowhere fast. Finally, one young woman said with exasperation, “Look, it seems to me like Satan gets to have all the fun. Living God’s way sounds like a big drag!” I was shocked by her honesty, and impressed, too. Rarely are we Christians so open about our true doubts and misgivings when it comes to the Lord.
So, is existing for the praise of God’s glory boring? Is it really a big drag?
In answering these questions, we could point to the examples of countless Christians whose lives bear witness to the adventure of glorifying God. We could also point to the witness of some mature believers who sought, over three centuries ago, to encapsulate the core truths of Christianity. When they packaged these truths in a teaching tool called a “catechism,” they began with one of the most important questions of all: “What is the chief end of man?” Today, we might ask, “What is our chief purpose in living?” The Christians in the gathering in Westminster Abbey answered: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”
Don’t you think it’s fascinating that these godly folk added the second phrase? They could well have said only that our chief purpose in life is to glorify God. But they believed it was important to add “and to enjoy him forever.” Of course they didn’t make up this idea. You can find it all over the Scriptures. The Psalms, for example, continually call us to be joyful in the Lord. The Apostle Paul echoes this theme when he writes to the Philippians, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (4:4). Peter adds that we who know the Lord “are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1:8).
To be sure, there are plenty of Christians who completely miss out on the joy of their relationship with God. Their way of living out their faith confirms the fears of my former college students, making the Christian life seem like a big drag. But Scripture and the Christians of the Westminster Shorter Catechism promise something altogether different. Yes, we exist for the praise of God’s glory, and in glorifying him, we also enjoy him—and life—forever.
Something to Think About:
Have you ever enjoyed God in your life? When? Why?
What helps you to experience joy in living for God’s glory?
What keeps you from this joy?
Can you think of times when you were both glorifying and enjoying God as you were working?
Something to Do:
As you work this week, be open to the joy of the Lord. Ask God to give you the gift of joy and to make you aware of when this gift is given.
Gracious God, thank you for creating us with the capacity to praise you and to enjoy you. Thank you for calling us into a life of service that is anything but boring. Thank you for the times you bless us with your joy.
As we work this week, dear Lord, we ask for the joy of knowing that our work is for you, for your purposes and your glory. May we delight in you as we serve you in our daily work. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
Everyday Applications (Philippians 4:1–23)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.
As I saw that great line from the Westminster it struck me that we treat the purpose of life as enjoying ourselves and that even as Christians we (I) can treat God as someone to serve me and and make my life enjoyable. The best life is God-centered. The promise of my personal enjoyment is not here but in Christ in heaven. Thanks for today’s devotion.
I think life of faith looks boring when we tend to see it as a set of rules, a list of do’s and don’ts and consequences thereof. Certainly, there is a time and place for them as life lived in faith and service of God should reflect God’s righteousness. However, life of faith is much more than this. I think it gets really exciting when we acknowledge God’s goodness and his glory in everything (yes, everything), the good stuff that happen to us as well as the mundane or seemingly bad things and seeking always for his will.