Catechism supplement 1: Glorifying God in our weakness

This week we saw that, according to the modified Baptist Catechism: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever”. This has some further implications for us, and I would like to go into them here.

First, allow me to explain why I didn’t include this as part of Tuesday’s ‘guided tour through the Catechism series’. Quite simply, I want to give us a reason to keep the truths of God in our minds throughout the week. Coming back to this week’s questions at the mid-point of our “week” is not only a great way to remind us of these valuable truths, but it gives us an opportunity to think about them more deeply. Today, we’re going to be focussing on question two. But first, a quick test:

Q1: Who is the first and best of beings?

Q3: How do we know there is a God?

The answers will be at the end of today’s article.

 

Today we’re going to be talking about what it means for us, in our failings, that our chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.

When we miss out on a promotion, or when we fail a test, or when things just don’t go the way we planned, we tend to get down on ourselves. “Failure,” we tell ourselves. “Worthless,” we say. So often, our self-worth gets tangled up in the goals we set for ourselves, or in meeting the expectations of our parents, our peers, our culture.

However, we see through this valuable truth of God that our chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.

Now, what I’m not saying is that the only thing we are permitted to do is “glorify God”, or “enjoy God”. Quite the opposite – we are to work at our jobs, hang out with out friends, study and learn – but we are to do all things as parts of our “chief end”: to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.

When Jesus was teaching people, some soldiers approached him, and we read:

Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.” (Luke 3:14)

We see that Jesus wants these people to remain in their vocation, but they have a new, higher purpose: to glorify God in their jobs, where they are, before their un-believing peers. But what does that mean for us 2000 years later?

Simple: glorify God in whatever you do, and you’re fulfilling your purpose.

Let me give you three different examples of what I mean.

Imagine Bill. Bill is an accountant who has recently been passed over for a promotion at work. Bill’s parents aren’t thrilled; they’ve long tried to find their own validation in their son’s success. However, Bill doesn’t complain; in fact, he congratulates his co-worker and continues to be thankful for what God has already given him. Whilst a lot of people would consider Bill to have failed in his career advancement, Bill’s co-workers have noticed his work ethic and his satisfaction in God. God is glorified in the situation.

Imagine Jack. Jack got laid off from his old job and is struggling to find work. Jack continues to look for work but, in the meanwhile, trusts God to provide for him. People see his trust and peace – attributes which, in our culture, make no sense in the midst of uncertainty – and God is glorified.

Imagine Daniel. Daniel is the CEO of a major corporation, volunteers on the weekends, has a beautiful wife, is himself attractive, and has no care for God whatsoever. In the mind of the world, this is a hugely successful man. However, he volunteers for his own glory, he works for his own money to spend on his own pleasures, and doesn’t love his wife sacrificially. He will one day – maybe in 50 years, maybe this evening on his way home from work – die. When Daniel dies, his money will be left behind, his wife will be too, and the good feelings from his volunteering will count for nothing. What has his life amounted to?

Leo Tolstoy once said, “Is there any meaning in my life that the inevitable death awaiting me does not destroy?” He understood; we cannot find meaning in things that will pass away. In trying to do so, we will in fact fail in our task. The source of our meaning must transcend mortality. And, indeed, it does: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.” Nothing of this world can give our lives meaning, and nothing of this world can take meaning away from us. Only in glorifying and enjoying God can we find our meaning.

The secret is contentment in Jesus Christ, who is our strength. As the apostle Paul says, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me,” (Philippians 4:11-13) and, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me,” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Speaking from personal experience, I know that often when I am not content, or when I feel like I have failed, it’s because I’m chasing my own glory. I think that we, as fallen human beings living in a very ‘success’-oriented culture, need to constantly keep ourselves in check – whose glory am I seeking?

 

Now, the answers to the questions above.

Q1: Who is the first and best of beings?

A1: God is the first and best of beings.

Q3: How do we know there is a God?

A3: The light of nature in man, and the works of God, plainly declares that there is a God; but His word and Spirit only, do effectually reveal Him unto us for our salvation.

 

See you on Tuesday for week two – questions four & five.

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