Many people will tell you God does not want anything from your life; that He just loves you, just wants you to be happy, and just wants to get you safely into heaven. It can be tempting to think that way. But Scripture says differently.
“Everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him” (Isaiah 43:7).
“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
You may also be familiar with the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “What is the chief end of man?” And the answer: “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”
God created us in His image for His glory. He saved us from His own wrath for His glory. As we live under His sovereign hand, we live for His glory. This is the core of the relationship between God and His Christian.
God’s glory in a sinner’s rescue. The conversion of a sinner is one of the most mysterious events in the universe. God reaches down to the heart of a sinner in infinite condescension and, in His grace, brings the sinner from death to life by the irresistible beauty and love shown in Christ. The sinner’s heart, once unyielding as stone, now becomes pliable and soft as the richest soil to welcome the seed of the gospel. The seed takes root and grows, making every aspect and facet of this person’s life holy and acceptable to God. There is nothing in this newly reborn life left for the devil to triumph over, and Christ is given His due. He has turned His enemy into His child.
God’s glory in the life of a baby Christian. The gospel doesn’t end after conversion. It becomes the atmosphere in which the new Christian dwells. Equipped with a new nature, new appetites, a new hope, and a new love, the whole world seems new and beautiful; it is a place where God can be found around every corner. The scriptures, once only words on a page, become full of meaning and life. There is as much difference between the life of a new Christian and what he or she was before as there is a living and a dead body. People who see this difference cannot ignore it, and they begin to wonder at the change.
God’s glory in dealing with a dull Christian. As time goes on and the newness wears off, a baby Christian often loses the excitement. Life, with all its mundane activity, sets in. The mind becomes distracted and the heart becomes dulled. Searching the scriptures, prayer, and worship become mechanical and tedious. More “urgent” matters replace pursuing Christ. Sinful patterns creep back in as the heart deceives the soul. But God has not finished with this Christian. He still has glory to gain. He sets about the work of dismantling the barriers and idols set up by the Christian and begins the process of bringing the Christian back to a place of repentance.
God’s glory in dealing with a despairing Christian. When God prunes away all the things threatening to replace Him in the heart of the Christian, He shows the Christian again how sinful his or her heart really is and how much ground is still to be taken for Christ. If not accepted with a humble attitude, the Christian can be driven to despair. “Can God really love me? Am I even a Christian? How can I escape this sin in my heart?” But God refuses to leave the Christian there. Christ will still have His way in this life. The questions of despair will be turned into declarations of Christ’s sufficiency: “I am a sinner and nothing more apart from Christ. There is only One who is righteous, and what is left for me to do? To hold onto Him.”
God’s glory in a Christian’s repentance. Once God has taken away all the things the Christian has turned to apart from Him, He is the only thing left for the Christian to love. And the Christian, responding to the irresistible love of God, runs to Him, asking for forgiveness and drawing upon the promises in Scripture. Like the Prodigal in the parable, the Christian has lost all pride. The Christian is back where God meant for him or her to be: leaning in faith on the arms of the Savior.
God’s glory in a Christian’s last days. As the Christian faces death, there is no better time for the world to see the greatness of God. The Christian is on the edge of eternity, with a life of sin and fallibility behind and a life of glory and perfection before. The Christian can join Paul with his or her last fading breath in saying something no lost person could dream of: “To die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).