The Chief End of Man is to Glorify God – Thomas Watson
In how many ways may we glorify God?
1. It is glorifying God when we aim purely at his glory. It is one thing to advance God’s glory, another thing to aim at it. God must be the Terminus ad quem, the ultimate end of all actions. Thus Christ, John 8:50, “I seek not mine own glory, but the glory of him that sent me.” A hypocrite has a crooked eye, for he looks more to his own glory than God’s. Our Saviour deciphers such, and gives a caveat against them in Matthew 6:2, “when thou givest alms, do not sound a trumpet.” A stranger would ask, “What means the noise of this trumpet?” It was answered, “They are going to give to the poor.” And so they did not give alms, but sold them for honour and applause, that they might have glory of men; the breath of men was the wind that blew the sails of their charity; “verily they have their reward.” The hypocrite may make his acquittance and write, “received in full payment.” Chrysostom calls vainglory one of the devil’s great nets to catch men. And Cyprian says, “whom Satan cannot prevail against by intemperance, those he prevails against by pride and vainglory.” Oh let us take heed of self-worshipping! Aim purely at God’s glory.
2. We glorify God by a frank confession of sin. The thief on the cross had dishonoured God in his life, but at his death he brought glory to God by confession of sin. Luke 23:41, “We indeed suffer justly.” He acknowledged he deserved not only crucifixion, but damnation. Josh. 7:19, “My son, give, I, pray thee, glory to God, and make confession unto him.” A humble confession exalts God. How is God’s free grace magnified in crowning those who deserve to be condemned! The excusing and mincing of sin casts a reproach upon God. Adam denied not that he tasted the forbidden fruit, but, instead of a full confession, he taxed God. Gen. 3:12. “The woman whom thou gavest me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat;” if thou had not given me the woman to be a tempter, I would not have sinned. Confession glorifies God, because it clears him; it acknowledges that he is holy and righteous, whatever he does. Nehemiah vindicates God’s righteousness; chap. 9:33. “Thou art just in all that is brought upon us.” A confession is frank when it is free, not forced. Luke 15:18. “I have sinned against heaven and before thee.” The prodigal charged himself with sin before his Father charged him with it.
3. We glorify God by believing. Rom. 4:20. “Abraham was strong in faith, giving glory to God.” Unbelief affronts God, it gives him the lie; “he that believeth not, maketh God a liar.” I John 5:10. But faith brings glory to God; it sets to its seal that God is true. John 3:33. He that believes flies to God’s mercy and truth, as to an altar of refuge, he engarrisons himself in the promises, and trusts all he has with God. Psalm 31:5, “Into thy hands I commit my spirit.” This is a great way of bringing glory to God, and God honours faith because faith honours him. It is a great honour we do to a man when we trust him with all we have, when we put our lives and estates into his hand; it is a sign we have a good opinion of him. The three children glorified God by believing. “The God whom we serve is able to deliver us, and will deliver us,” Dan. 3:17. Faith knows there are no impossibilities with God, and will trust him where it cannot see him.
4. We glorify God, by being tender of his glory. God’s glory is dear to him as the apple of his eye. An innocent child weeps to see a disgrace done to his father. Psalm 69:9, “The reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.” When we hear God reproached, it is as if we were reproached; when God’s glory suffers, it is as if we suffered. This is to be tender of God’s glory.
5. We glorify God by fruitfulness. John 15:8. “Hereby is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.” As it is dishonouring God to be barren, so fruitfulness honours him. Phil. 1:11. “Filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are to the praise of his glory.” We must not be like the fig tree in the gospel, which had nothing but leaves, but like the pomecitron, that is continually either mellowing or blossoming, and is never without fruit. It is not profession, but fruit that glorifies God. God expects to have his glory from us in this way. 1 Cor. 9:7, “Who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit of it?” Trees in the forest may be barren, but trees in the garden are fruitful. We must bring forth the fruits of love and good works. Matt. 5:16.”Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Faith sanctifies our works, and works testify our faith; to be doing good to others, to be eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, much glorifies God. Thus Christ glorified his Father; “he went about doing good.” Acts 10:38. By being fruitful, we are fair in God’s eyes. Jer. 11:16. “The Lord called thy name a green olive-tree, fair and of goodly fruit.” And we must bear much fruit; it is muchness of fruit that glorifies God: “if ye bear much fruit.” The spouse’s breasts are compared to clusters of grapes, to show how fertile she was, Cant. 7:7. Though the lowest degree of grace may bring salvation to you, yet it will not bring much glory to God. It was not a spark of love Christ commended in Mary, but much love; “she loved much,” Luke 7:47.
6. We glorify God by being contented in that state in which Providence has placed us. We give God the glory of his wisdom, when we rest satisfied with what he carves out to us. Thus Paul glorified God. The Lord cast him into as great variety of conditions as any man, “in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft,” 2 Cor. 11:23, yet he had learned to be content. Paul could sail either in a storm or a calm; he could be anything that God would have him; he could either want or abound, Phil. 4:13. A good Christian argues thus: It is God that has put me in this condition; he could have raised me higher, if he pleased, but that might have been a snare to me: he has done it in wisdom and love; therefore I will sit down satisfied with my condition. Surely this glorifies God much; God counts himself much honoured by such a Christian. Here says God, is one after mine own heart; let me do what I will with him, I hear no murmuring, he is content. This shows abundance of grace. When grace is crowning, it is not so much to be content; but when grace is conflicting with inconveniences, then to be content is a glorious thing indeed. For one to be content when he is in heaven is no wonder; but to be content under the cross is like a Christian. This man must needs bring glory to God; for he shows to all the world, that though he has little meal in his barrel, yet he has enough in God to make him content: he says, as David, Psalm 16:5, “The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance; the lines are fallen to me in pleasant places.”
7. We glorify God by working out our own salvation. God has bound together his glory and our good. We glorify him by promoting our own salvation. It is a glory to God to have multitudes of converts; now, his design of free grace takes, and God has the glory of his mercy; so that, while we are endeavouring our salvation, we are honouring God. What an encouragement is this to the service of God to think, while I am hearing and praying, I am glorifying God; while I am furthering my own glory in heaven, I am increasing God’s glory. Would it not be an encouragement to a subject, to hear his prince say to him, You will honour and please me very much, if you will go to yonder mine of gold, and dig as much gold for yourself as you can carry away? So, for God to say, Go to the ordinances, get as much grace as you can, dig out as much salvation as you can; and the more happiness you have, the more I shall count myself glorified.
8. We glorify God by living to God 2 Cor. 5:15, “That they which live should not live to themselves, but unto him who died for them.” Rom. 14:8, “Whether we live, we live unto the Lord.” The Mammonist lives to his money, the Epicure lives to his belly; the design of a sinner’s life is to gratify lust, but we glorify God when we live to God.