We all know the excellent opening statement of the Westminster Shorter Catechism: the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. Of course this is totally biblical (1 Cor 10, Col 3, 1 Pet 4, etc.), but sometimes it gets fuzzy in practice. In other words, what exactly does it mean to glorify God? How do we do it?
Thomas Watson, in his typically clear way, summarizes the biblical teaching on glorifying God in a concise, memorable, and practical way. Here are a few comments of his.
We aim at God’s glory:
1) When we prefer God’s glory above all other things; above credit, estate, relations; when the glory of God coming in competition with them, we prefer his glory before them. If relations lie in our way to heaven, we must either leap over them, or tread upon them.
2) When we are content that God’s will should take place, though it may cross ours. Lord, I am content to be a loser if thou be a gainer; to have less health, if I have more grace, and thou more glory.
3) When we are content to be outshined by others in gifts and esteem, so that his glory may be increased. A man that has God in his heart, and God’s glory in his eye, desires that God should be exalted; and if this be effected, let who will be the instrument, he rejoices. …Let my candle go out, if the Sun of Righteousness may shine.
He lists quite a few more, showing the Scriptures that guide us in glorifying God. I especially liked the three quoted above: we glorify God by dying to self, dying to the world, and being humble (esteeming others better than ourselves). We glorify God when we really just quit thinking of ourselves and focus on him then our neighbor, as the summary of the law teaches in Matthew 22. Just for your info, here are a few more Watson lists. We glorify God when we 1) walk cheerfully, 2) stand up for his truths, 3) praise him, 4) draw others to him, and 5) live holy lives. Again, Watson uses Scripture and illustrates these in a clear way.
This book – A Body of Divinity – is based on the Shorter Catechism, so it covers the main topics of Christian doctrine. I highly recommend it. You can get it sent to your door for just under 15 bucks (last time I checked). It’s certainly worth giving up two months of Netflix to get this book.
Above quotes taken from pages 11-17.