“Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name” (Isaiah 25:1).
There are only two reasons to do anything in life. One is for personal gain and the other is for God’s glory. One is to serve the self and the other is to serve our Savior. One is to advance the cause of our little kingdom and the other is to advance the cause of the Kingdom of God. The Scriptures are full of examples of both, and it is always a good idea to inventory our hearts from time to time to see just what the motivations are behind the things we are doing. As the wise preacher tells us, “All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighted by the Lord” (Proverbs 16:2). Remember, because our hearts are deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9), we can easily misalign our motives, making life all about us rather than all about God.
For God’s glory or gain?
We can sum it all up this way: are we using God as a means to attain an end or is the end God Himself. The first has us pursuing God for personal gain, the second for God’s glory. And often we can be sailing through life without ever noticing the difference until the storm winds begin to blow and when they do, we will know the true motive of the heart by either shrinking back or standing firm. Storms have a way of revealing what we actually believe deep down inside about our relationship with Jesus.
Let’s take a brief look at these two categories of professing Christians. The person working for personal gain thinks about their relationship with Jesus rooted in the great gifts He can give to them. They come for hope. They come for help. They come for happiness. They come for health. They come for healing. They come for a better home life. They come to escape the terrors of hell. These are just a few of the personal gain reasons which makes it clear that Jesus is not their Messiah, but rather, He is their means to their desired ends. However, the person working for God’s glory looks to Jesus as the end itself. Jesus is not the vehicle to victory He is our victory. Jesus is not the way to wealth He is our wealth. Jesus is not the path to peace He is our peace. Jesus is not the means to meaning He is our meaning.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks the important question, “What is the chief end of man?” While the answer is not a particular passage of sacred Scripture, it surely is the all-encompassing meaning of our very existence – “Man’s chief end is to glorify, and to enjoy him forever.” So, how would you describe your walk with Jesus right now? Is your relationship with Jesus a means to a desired end or is Jesus the end Himself? What is the chief end of your life, right now, right where this finds you?
Relationship vs. rewards
What we need to remember is we were created for relationship with Jesus not for the rewards we get from Him. Perhaps there is no better book in all the Bible where we see this truth lived out than Job. God allows His servant Job to suffer unimaginable loss – health, wealth and all ten of his children. Even his wife ridicules him for staying committed to God. In essence, Job loses every reason to stay in a right relationship with God expect God Himself. It is clear from this story that Job loved God more than all the good gifts God had given to him. Yes, Job loved his wealth. Yes, job loved his health. And of course, Job loved all ten of his children. But He loved God more. For Job, God was not a means to a desired end. God was the end Himself, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. (Job 1:21-22).
When Jesus was teaching the cost of being His disciple, he said this: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes, even their own live – such a person cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26-27). Now we know Jesus was not telling us to hate our families and our lives if we are to be His disciples. Jesus was telling us that our love for our families and our lives should look like hate compared to our love for Him. We are to love all of the good gifts Jesus has given us, but we are to love Jesus more.
Remember, keeping Jesus on the throne of our lives will keep us from falling into the trap of looking to Him as a means to a desired end. Jesus is the end we are after in every area of life. We love Jesus for Himself. We look to Jesus not because of anything we hope to get, but because of everything we have already been given. And his name is Jesus. May this be the confession of our lives that our relationship with God is built solely upon the goal of His glory and not our gain, because ultimately His glory is our greatest gain.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!
For more articles by Dr. Tommy Boland, visit goodnewsfl.org/tommy-boland.