Colossians 2:2b-3 “…that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
As Christians, we will inevitably hear the phrase “What is the chief end of man?” either from the pulpit, radio or other various Protestant Christian venues. Hearing it for the first time might invite either confusion or interest, but most certainly is a resounding truth declaring our purpose as Christians on this earth. In order to further elaborate, we need a bit of history.
In 1643 Britain’s Long Parliament tasked The Westminster Assembly of Divines (1643-1652), a council of theologians and members of the English Parliament, to revise their 39 Articles of belief. By 1647 they completed, what is widely known to the Presbyterian Church as the Westminster Shorter Catechism; which contains over 100 doctrines and begins with number one as: “What is the chief end of man? The chief end of man is to glorify God (a) and enjoy Him forever (b)”.
What exactly is the chief end of man and what does it mean to glorify God and enjoy Him?
- The Chief End of Man is to: Glorify God (Part I) and Enjoy Him forever (Part II).
Many in the world today may think this is to enjoy oneself and collect as many comfort material items as possible in order to make life more pleasant either by resting or by play or by climbing the corporate ladder, etc. The world wants to know answers, collect approval, be popular, rich, and smart and look good while doing it. On the other hand, as Christians, we ask ourselves “How can I glorify God, and how can I be sure that what I’m doing is in fact glorifying God? The world is focused on “self”, while the Christian is focused on finding a proper way to please God in all we think and do.
- Part I: How do we glorify God?
We glorify God when we respect all persons of the holy Trinity; God the Father who gave us life, God the Son who lost His life for us, and God the Holy Spirit who resides in us directing and ministering our lives.
We glorify God in our appreciation, adoration, affections and subjections. By appreciation, we glorify God by keeping Him at the highest place in our thoughts and affections. By adoration we glorify God by our worship of His holiness and beauty. By affection we love Him with all our heart, mind and soul (the Shema, Deuteronomy 6:5 and our New Testament commandment from Jesus in Matthew 22). We should be warned that when a person says they love God, especially after a receiving something requested, this could be only “loving the blessing” and not loving God. To truly love God our heart is a rushing stream of love as compared to drops from a leaking faucet.
We glorify God with subjection when we dedicate ourselves to Him and are ready to obey at a moment’s notice; we are prepared to study Him with our heads, perform for Him with our spiritual gifts, and we speak edifications to His church with our lips. We glorify God with our affections and obedience.
- Why should we give God glory?
Actually, the better question might be, “How can we dare “not” to glorify Him?” Creatures below us glorify God, the heavens glorify God, and nature glorifies God as the birds sing in perfect obedience to their purpose in life and the beasts hunt in obedience to their purpose. Even the angels obey as ministering spirits serving God by protecting man; yet, most importantly, Christ took man’s nature and married man to Himself. The angels are not Christ’s spouse such as we are, but we are given a righteousness better than even the angels who surround the throne of God in Heaven; so how can we dare not give God glory?
So, then, “how” can we show and give God glory in our every day lives?
- We can give God glory when we are content to be in God’s Will even if it means our own will must wait, be cancelled, or remain humble and patient while others are blessed.
- We give God glory when we confess our sins, forgive others, believe in His name, and bear good fruit (Galatians 5).
- We give God glory when we walk cheerfully and provide to the others around us an example of a joyful Christian, even amongst rubble of destruction.
- We give God glory when we stand up for God’s truths and when we praise Him.
- We give God glory when we are zealous for His sake (zeal is a compound affection containing love and anger, but in a good sense, such as an anger against evil).
- We glorify God when we suffer for His purposes and seek to convert others to eternal life by the way we act and live not just by our words.
The Chief End of Man is to Glorify God (Part I) and Enjoy Him Forever (Part II).
- Part II: How do we enjoy God forever?
Now that we have discussed some non-exhaustive ways in which we can we glorify God in what we say and do in our everyday lives, how then can we actually enjoy God forever? How can we “enjoy” Him when we are not feeling well, or when we are being treated unfairly as well as when things are going well for us?
- When we can keep an open mind to put-on the thoughts of Christ and take-off our own contaminated thoughts, we can actively seek to ask our Lord to help us present ourselves daily as living sacrifices (Romans 12) and allow God’s Spirit to reveal to us anything inside our minds or hearts that blocks us from enjoying Him continually; such as judging, pride, envy, discontentment, etc.
- Prayerfully make a list of all the things you can think of that may block God’s voice from being heard (these are your “take-off” thoughts; thoughts that we need to set aside and take captive according to 2 Corinthians 10:5-6).
- Next, prayerfully read Psalms 139:1-18, 146:1-7, 139, Galatians 5:16-24 and finally, 2 Timothy 2:21-3:7.
- After considering God’s Word to you from the above scriptures, are there any thoughts that you can add to your list?
- It is helpful to remember that we choose our thoughts. We choose our thoughts. We choose to dwell on our anger, imagination of what “could have been if only…” or we can choose to give it to God. It is an intentional act on our part that we must ask the Holy Spirit for strength in doing since it is often not an easy “choice” to make. Thoughts stir up emotions and our emotions with stir up our desires and then when we act on our desires we produce either acts of grace or acts of sin. This is why we must take every thought captive, and the first step is to identify all thoughts that can rob God of His glory and cease our enjoyment of Him every day. This list exercise may be beneficial.
- Now, next to each item on your list, write down why you think you those things affect you in a negative way. Write down the “why” and also write down a way to turn it to “good” for example if one of our “take-offs” is “pride”, we would say that pride turns everything into a competition that must be won at any price…then next to it write how pride can be turned into a healthy self confidence by knowing that it’s ok if others do well; it’s our job to do our best for God, not man. Those are the thoughts that we “put-on” (Colossians 1:3-16).
- We can enjoy God forever by enjoying God in obeying His ordinances.
- We can enjoy God by knowing that we are preparing ourselves here on earth for our positions in Heaven.
God promises us “Greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). With the empowerment of God’s Spirit, our feelings can be overcome by “right thinking”. Since our behaviors follow in line with what we think and feel, we can intentionally replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts, and we can overcome our negative feelings that are not from God but from the enemy. It takes work, intentionality, humility, a lot of prayer and understanding who God is, through His Word.
Thoughts for Reflection:
How many times have you caught yourself daydreaming about how wonderful life used to be in the past and “if only” something would change, life would be better? Do you find yourself clinging to that image a lot? What are the possibilities of it coming to fruition? If it could indeed become an option would you truthfully engage it from where you are now? Do you think this dwelled upon thought should be given to God?
If you participated in the above exercise, how many ideas, feelings, dreams and thoughts have you been clinging to that have drained the energy from new possibilities in life?
Are you doing what you indeed desire to be doing right now? Is your job, training, and place in life a healthy place to be? How do you know? Allow God to speak to you through His Word of His affirmations or alternatives; prayerfully keep a journal of what you believe God to be speaking as you read His Word.
-  86:9; Isa. 60:21; Rom. 11:36; I Cor. 6:20; 10:31; Rev. 4:11
- 16:5-11; 73:25-26; 144:15; Isa. 12:2; Luke 2:10; Phil. 4:4; Rev. 21:3-4
- For 107 doctrinal standards of many Presbyterian churches, see creeds.net/Westminster/shorter_catechism.html