Are God’s Blessings For Us, Or For God? (Part 3)Posted: March 10, 2012
Note: A few email followers told me that the emailed links from previous posts were not working. That problem has been fixed. 🙂
What has already been agreed upon, let us now repeat: God blesses us as adopted children in Christ because he loves us and wants us to feel loved. However, in the previous post, I made my very best effort to convince you that there is a more ultimate reason that God blesses us: so that he would receive glory and praise. Many people, however, will still feel like this cannot be possible, because giving and getting have to be mutually exclusive or there would be a conflict of interest. Right?
If people are experiencing this negative reaction it is normally in one of two forms (both of which I have experienced myself): 1) People are disappointed; or 2) they feel as if God’s love is somehow invalidated by his ‘agenda’ of glory-getting. In the first camp, people are practically stunned to discover that God did not decree that they themselves are the ultimate end-all be-all. I agree that we should always acknowledge and never belittle the fact that, as image-bearers of God, we do have unfathomable value. And I agree that we should never forget the way God demonstrates how much he values us – the cross (Romans 5:8). But we would do well to remember that any value we possess is bestowed upon us by God and for God. (If you’re in this camp, I’ve been there, and I lovingly but firmly remind us both that we are not the epicenter of reality. God is.)
But it is the second objection that I want to treat more carefully. Oftentimes when learning of God’s sovereign priority to receive glory, people feel slighted, as if God’s love were somehow shaded and impure because he has some kind of “secret agenda” for himself – receiving praise and glory. People in this camp reject God’s glory-priority, thinking things like, “Well if God is giving just so he can receive in return, then his blessings were never valid in the first place! That’s selfish. Besides, the Bible does not say that ‘For God so loved his own glory that he gave his only Son.’ It says that he loves us.” To such a thinker, God’s glory-priority invalidates God’s love. For them, the two ideas are dichotomous and incompatible.
That’s an understandable confusion to have! But if you catch yourself thinking this way, remember: God is not a human. He does not have a brain like ours. “His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and his ways higher than our ways” (Isaiah 55:8). It is true that for a human, giving to get would usually taint the act of giving. (Think of the boyfriend who treats his girlfriend wonderfully, but only so that he doesn’t have to experience singleness. His treatment of the girl isn’t truly valid; it is self-serving because the boy hates being single.) But God has no insecurities and no inappropriate agendas. He is not a sinner like some garbage boyfriend. It is right that God desire glory for himself. “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom” (Psalm 145:3). Let us not attribute to God the characteristics of man. His love is real and valid and overwhelming and we need not be suspicious of his motives – He works all things for his glory and our good.
made ourselves comfortable fallen in love with the fact that God blesses us in order to be praised, a final dilemma may present itself: “To what extent am I allowed to enjoy God’s blessings? If I’m sitting here enjoying all these gifts (found in Ephesians 1 and elsewhere), am I not glorifying God? Where does the enjoyment of blessings stop and the giving of glory begin?”
The answer to that question is excellent news, and will be given in a fourth and final post.