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TEXT: Psalm 29:2
SUBJECT: Thomas Watson on Glorifying and Enjoying God #1
Tonight, with the Lord's help, we'll start a new Puritan study. It's called Thomas Watson on glorifying and enjoying God. I hope the words ring a bell with you. They're not in the Bible, but they are a fine summary of what the Bible teaches. They're taken from Westminster Shorter Catechism, which begins,
"What is the chief end of man?"
"Man's chief end is to glorify God
and to enjoy Him forever".
Before we get to the Puritan, let me briefly explain two terms he doesn't deal with. They are "chief end" and "man".
A "chief end" means your number one goal. It's good to have goals. But the goals have to be put in order. You have to distinguish between the more important goals and the ones that are less important. A man wants to make a living for his family and also to lower his golf score. Both are good and take plenty of work. But which one is more important? Is it better to make a living with an 18 handicap or to golf better while your family goes on welfare? Plainly, making a living is a higher goal than improving your golf game.
But what's the highest goal of all? It's glorifying God. It is more important than your career, your schooling, your hobbies, your health or anything else. In their place, these goals are good-but only in their place! Put ahead of glorifying God, they become idols. The best things can (and often do): family, church, ministry, the welfare of the human race-you name it.
If it's your chief end it is also your god. That's why your chief end has to be glorifying God and enjoying Him forever.
The second term seems obvious, but may not be. It is Man-man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever". Notice, it does not say the Christian's chief end." It says man's chief end. The writers of the Catechism were wise here. Since God is the Creator and Lord of all, it is everyone's duty to glorify and enjoy Him. Of course, no one can, but a Christian. But it is everyone's duty. For which all are accountable.
That's the teaching of Romans 1. The whole human race
"Knew God, but did not glorify
Him as God, nor were they
And for this wicked sin, God turned them over to every base desire.
If you're not a Christian, you're in big trouble. For God, the Almighty and All Knowing God, commands you to glorify Him and enjoy Him. But you're not doing either. And cannot do either. Until you repent of your sins and believe in Jesus Christ.
Nothing the unbeliever does is pleasing to God-not obeying his parents, if he's a kid; not being patient with her husband if she's a wife; not giving to the poor or pastoring a church. The unbeliever's good deeds are no good to God because they're not done in faith. And,
"Without faith it is impossible
to please Him".
The good works unbelievers do serve other purposes. They make life better in this world, for example, but they don't please God.
That's enough introduction, let's move on now to the chapter in Watson's book. We'll start it tonight, and Lord willing, spend another two or three weeks on it.
To glorify God means to give Him glory-the glory due His Name our verse has it. But what does this mean? What is the glory of God and how do we give it to Him?
As for the glory of God, it means one of two things. Here's the first,
"The glory that God has in Himself. Glory
is essential to the Godhead as light is to
the sun. God cannot be God without it.
This glory cannot be added to because it
Is infinite, it is that for which God is most
Tender and which He will not part with".
The glory of God, in other words, is His nature on display. Because God is perfectly glorious, no one can add to it or take anything away from it. The hardest working Christian doesn't make the Lord more wonderful than He is and the worst blasphemer on earth doesn't soil God's reputation in the least. His glory is beyond the reach of man. We can't polish it or smudge it.
But this is not what glory means here. When the Bible says to glorify God, it doesn't mean to enhance His glory, to make Him more wonderful than He is.
Here's the second meaning of glory and what Watson is getting at here,
"The glory which is ascribed to God
or which His creatures labor to bring
Him. The glory we give God is nothing
Else but lifting up His name in the world
And magnifying Him in the eyes of others".
In other words, it means to praise God-in what we say and sing, of course, but also in what we do, where we go, how we feel, what we think, and so on. Glorifying God is not limited to your devotional or church life. It occupies the whole of life. The way you work either glorifies God or dishonors Him. Or even smaller things like the way you drive your car. Driving carefully within the speed limit and with consideration for others glorifies the Lord. Driving recklessly or honking at people because you're mad or making illegal left turns, and so on, robs Him of His glory.
To glorify God, then, means to praise Him with all you've got.
Next we have the duty of glorifying God. Watson says,
"Everything works to some end: now man,
being a rational creature must propose
some end to himself, and that should be
that he may lift up God in the world. He
had better lose his life than lose the end
of his living. The great truth is asserted
that the end of every man's living should
be the glorifying of God".
Is he right about that? Sure he is. Everybody ought to glorify God. The Bible says so. The Puritan cites two verses (though many others could be named)
"That God in all things may be glorified".
"Whether, therefore, you eat or drink, or
whatever you do, do all to the glory of God".
You ought to glorify God. It's not just a nice thing to do if you've got the time for it, but it's your duty-it's your lifelong obligation to the Lord.
So ask yourself: Am I glorifying God? I know you're not perfect, but that's not the point. Are you glorifying the Lord? Are you the kind of kid at school who makes your teacher praise God for you? Will your kids grow up to thank the Lord that you were their father or mother?
Why don't you try to glorify God? Why don't you leave one unnecessary thing undone tonight so that you can glorify the Lord for five minutes? Surely the TV program is not all that important. is it?
"Give to our God immortal praise".
After you leave church tonight.
If you're a Christian, you want to glorify God. But-apart from "religious things" (like praying or going to church), you may wonder how to do it. You do you glorify God while making a bed or drinking a cup of coffee?
Watson says glorifying God consists of four things-and they can be done at the breakfast table, in the car, out for a walk, anywhere at any time. He says
"Glorifying God consists of appreciation,
adoration, affection, and subjection".
We'll look at each of them briefly,
"Appreciation. To glorify God is to have
God-admiring thoughts. To esteem Him
Most excellent, and to set Him highest
In our thoughts."
Let's apply it: Since God is the creator of all things, then all things show His glory to some extent. Thus, if you're listening to a very smart person on the radio, you can appreciate his wisdom, think of Who gave it to him, and how wise God must be to distribute all the wisdom in the world, while retaining far more for Himself alone.
The same is true of non-human nature.
"The heavens declare the glory of God
and the firmament shows His handiwork".
Astronomy is good, but you don't need to know anything about it to wonder at the power and creative genius that was at work in making the stars, the moon, and the planets.
Eating is a good example. When you eat a good meal, just remember, God could have made you to feed on grass (like the cows) or other things (like the dung beetles!). But He chose to give us a variety of foods, with different colors, textures, scents, and so on. A good meal allows you to appreciate His goodness.
My parents used to have a young couple over quite a bit. My mom loved to cook for the man because he so thoroughly enjoyed the meal! Every second helping was an implied praise of her cooking. Appreciating food or nature or friends is a way of appreciating the God who made them. And of glorifying the Lord.
"Adoration or worship".
This speaks for itself. We glorify God by worshiping Him. We do that in formal ways-like church-and in ways less formal-like family worship or private devotions. Or even in quick prayers asking Him for help or praising Him for some little favor.
Whenever I see a fire engine or ambulance go by, I pray for the person it's going to pick up. I pray for his health and for his salvation. The prayers rarely last more than a few seconds, but they glorify God by adoring His great power and mercy.
"Affection or love. This is a love of delight,
as a man delights in his friend. This is to
love God indeed, The heart is set upon
God as a man's heart is set on his treasure.
This love is exuberant. It is not a few
Drops but a stream".
I hope you're polite to everyone, but with some people you're more than polite. You love them and it shows in the way you look at them, the way you talk to them, and so on. Some people are very demonstrative-treating you like a hero returning from war. There's nothing wrong with that. But most of us are a little more subdued. Yet even we have little ways of showing we're glad you're here.
We glorify God by being glad He's with us! This comes out, a little bit, in what we do. But mostly, it's lodged in the feelings. We know the Lord is with us and we're happy about it.
"Subjection. This is when we dedicate ourselves
to God and stand ready for His service".
I don't need to labor this one. There's no better way of glorifying God than by obeying Him from the heart. The Lord once said,
"Let your light so shine before men, that they
may see your good works, and glorify your
Father who is in heven".
Simple, quiet obedience is possible all day long. You don't have to be in church to obey the Lord; you needn't have a Bible in your hand or be in prayer or deep meditation. It's just doing the Lord's will at the shop, in the garden, lying in bed, wherever you are, whatever you're doing, just doing those things which please Him.
How, then do you glorify God? You do it be appreciation, adoration, affection, and subjection.
Finally, for tonight, we have the motives for glorifying God. Or why we ought to do it. Watson has a lot to say here, but let me pick out two of his main thoughts and add one of my own. He says, you ought to glorify God because
He made you for it,
"Because God has made all things for His glory".
Shovels are made for digging; when they're used for cooking, they make mess a mess of things. In the same way, you were made to glorify God, when you pursue anything else, you waste your potential and make a mess of yourself and everything around you. I hate seeing a bird in a cage. They were made to fly, not stand around all day. In the same way, Christians were made to glorify God and to commit yourself to any other goal is to clip your wings and lock yourself in the birdcage.
His second reason is higher than the first. You ought to glorify God because He's worthy of it,
"The glory of God has intrinsic value and
excellence; it transcends the thoughts of
men and the tongues of angels".
Some men command respect and obedience without deserving it. They have a high position or great power, but they lack dignity or character. God doesn't. His nature is worthy of His position-and of your sincere worship and service.
I once read a man who tore down Tolstoy's great novel, War and Peace. The man's review said more about himself than it did about the book. Maybe it is too long for him or has too many characters for him to keep straight or is too deep for him to understand, but the problem is with the man, not the book.
In the same way, thinking anything is more worthy than God says more about you than it does about the Lord. It says your vision is low and base and unworthy.
To close, let me add a third reason to make the glorifying of God your chief end.
He saved you.
This is Paul's point in the famous verse,
"You are bought with a price. Therefore,
glorify God in your bodies and in your
spirits, which are God's".
One reason you're to glorify God is because He saved you, and you, therefore, owe Him your life. The greatness of God commands our worship; our accountability to Him urges us on, too. But nothing will make a Christian glorify God like remembering-every day-what the Lord has done for Him. Or what he is now compared to what he used to be. Or where he was going, and where he is going now.
Thankfulness is at the heart of glorifying God. If you feel it for Him, you'll glorify Him.
May God give us all grateful hearts. For Christ's sake. Amen.
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