Are God’s Blessings For Us, Or For God? (Part 2)Posted: March 8, 2012
Note: This post is part of a 4-part series concerning the motivation of God in blessing Christ-followers. Thou shalt not read this post before reading part 1, lest ye die.
In response to the question, “Why does God choose to bless us?”, Part 1 has already affirmed the obvious (but hugely important) truth that God blesses and saves us because he loves us and wants us to feel loved. This still holds true at this very moment and will do likewise at every moment for the rest of time and beyond. (Return to this fact if you find yourself stretched too thin in the next few paragraphs.)
But, as also previously stated, this answer does not quite tell the whole story. There is another reason that God blesses his adopted children in Christ. I’ll give it to you right up front: God blesses and saves us so that he may receive glory and praise. This purpose is not secondary; it is primary. It is not parallel with the previous reason; it transcends it. This reason is the end to which all other things are but means. Remember our bullet points from Part 1, the list of blessings found in Ephesians 1:3-14? Let me quote a few lines of it, this time adding the surrounding context. Pay close attention to emphases:
v. 5 – “In love he predestined us…according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace.”
v. 11-12 – “In [Christ] we have obtained an inheritance…so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.”
v. 13-14 – “…You were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire [it], to the praise of his glory.”
…Three times, Paul interjects clauses that denote purpose. Three times, Paul reminds us what the blessings of salvation are given for. Right in the middle of recounting the eternal gifts that God has given us in Christ, three times Paul pauses to say, “It’s all so that he might be praised.” Even while acknowledging God’s genuine love, it’s like the apostle can’t, not even for just two paragraphs, make himself the point of all the love that God has showered on us through his blessings in Christ. Paul feels compelled to remind us: We are, above all else, blessed so that God may receive glory.
It is unbelievable what happens when you begin to read Scripture in this light. You might be shocked at what a passage as familiar as Psalm 23 says on the matter:
-The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. (blessing)
-He makes me lie down in green pastures. (blessing)
-He leads me beside the still waters. (blessing)
-He restores my soul. (blessing)
-He leads me down the paths of righteousness FOR HIS NAME’S SAKE. (purpose)
There is language like that all over the entire Bible, and I hope it fires you up to no end. God’s over-arching purpose in bringing us salvation and our own purpose in life is one and the same: to bring glory to the Father. In the words of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, “All of us who are mature should take such a view of things.”
But not everyone likes this discovery, do they? Some people feel like something’s a little…off about this way of thinking. After all, doesn’t God having some underlying motive somehow taint the genuineness of his gifts? Wouldn’t this mean that his love for us isn’t truly unconditional?
We’ll deal with this legitimate reaction in in the next post. In the mean time,