Friday, November 8, 2013

Why Being Self-Glorifying Doesn't Make God Selfish.

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One question that has been on my mind of late is: How can God do everything entirely for his glory and not be selfish? Why is he allowed to glorify himself when we can't - isn't that pride?

Well in short, the answers to both of those is a big No. No, God isn't being selfish, and No he isn't being proud - not in the way that we understand those two words.

Before I try to explain that, we need to establish that God does everything for his glory. Here are a couple of verses - there are plenty of others, look around!
Romans 11:36
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
God created everything and sustains everything and works everything for his glory (See also Psalm 19 and Romans 8:28).
1 Corinthians 10:31
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
We are called to glorify God in everything we do because he deserves all the glory. (For some more verses check out this link).

The reason that God must glorify himself is because he is God. It is because he is perfect. To maintain his perfection he cannot commit idolatry - therefore he cannot worship anything other than himself or glorify anything besides himself.

God created everything in existence, he reigns over it all.
Only he deserves glory, and that's why he is not being proud in having it. For example. If I play piano for someone and they tell me that I'm a good piano player, then (assuming it is true) they aren't glorifying me or making me proud, they're simply telling the truth - it's what I do with that compliment that turns it into praise for God or pride in myself.

God created the universe and he deserves all glory. Therefore when we give him the glory we are just doing what should be done. God isn't being proud or selfish in demanding it of us, he's maintaining his holiness and his goodness.

"The righteousness of God is the infinite zeal and joy and pleasure that he has in what is supremely valuable, namely, his own perfection and worth. And if he were ever to act contrary to this eternal passion for his own perfections he would be unrighteous, he would be an idolater." - John Piper (Solid Joys App).

Here are three ways that this might apply to life and our walk with God
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  • The gospel isn't primarily about you. In our consumerist culture we are constantly told: "it's all about you" (I mean, it is all about me, right?). We're even told that in so many churches nowadays: "Jesus loves you", "Jesus came to save you", "Jesus wants to be your best friend". You know what? While those things do hold truth, they can get in the way of us understanding the deeper and fuller truths of the gospel. Satan can and does use them to make us focus on ourselves instead of Jesus and to get us to settle for less in our understanding of the gospel.

    The truth is that it isn’t a one or the other scenario – it isn’t that either God saved me because he loves me or he saved me to glorify himself. In reality both are true: Yes Jesus did die to save us. Yes he does love us. But he loves us for his own glory, to make his goodness, mercy and love known to us so we can glorify and love him eternally. He is glorified in loving us. The gospel isn't first and foremost about us. It's about God glorifying himself by providing a way for us to be saved. Don't hear me wrong: God does love us (John 3:16), he does care for us (1 Peter 5:7), he did truly want to save us. But he didn't save us because we are amazing. He saved us because he is amazing and we are completely wretched. That should be encouraging, because it means that it doesn’t depend on how good we are or what we can do for God. It depends entirely on what Jesus has done: we couldn’t do it ourselves. 
    • Glorify God, not yourself. God calls for us to glorify him in all we do. Are you and I going to obey that command? We need to seriously think about this. We aren't saved simply for our own benefit, we're also saved for God's glory and we are commanded to glorify him. How can we do that? Praise him for all he has created, spend time in his word and in prayer, share the gospel, tell people of his mercies and his goodness. But in doing all those things be joyful and content in him.
    • Be joyful at the privilege of being able to glorify God. We were created to glorify God and it is a privilege to do so. Be joyful in it and spend time doing it! This is something that I fall short on so easily - I get caught up doing stuff, being "godly" (bordering on legalistic sometimes), and I forget to just glorify and praise God. I forget to spend time enjoying his word and his creation. Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again, Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4). We need to spend time rejoicing in who God is.
    I hope this has given you something to consider and think about, and I hope it's been helpful.

    Soli Deo Gloria!
    Nat.

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