While I do not by any means endorse the “Westminster Shorter Catechism,” it is interesting that the first item in this document is the question,“What is the chief end of man?” The answer; “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”
So, what is the point? Why bring this up? Simply this. We are consumed by our pursuit of happiness. The Constitution of the United States guarantees us the right to pursue happiness. We drive ourselves to untold lengths in our quest to find happiness. People betray the sacred trust of marriage, wreck their lives and those of their children and break the heart of a husband or wife all because they are not happy with a spouse and wish to pursue happiness with another. We give ourselves to pleasure even to the point of damning addictions because we think in these we will find happiness. And yet, there never have been people more unhappy in the history of the world.
Why have we not found happiness in all the varied pursuits with which we occupy ourselves? Could it be that we are not looking in the right place? Are we looking in the wrong direction for answers? Should we not be looking upward to the higher realm of heaven instead of outward and downward to the base things of the earth?
It is really tragic that people waste their lives in pursuits that lead nowhere but to disappointment and eventually to eternal destruction. Man was made for fellowship with God and until we find that relationship with him we will be continually in search for happiness. When we come into a relationship with God we will find fulfillment and happiness. The catechism is right. The greatest good for man is to praise and glorify God and to enjoy doing so.
“Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee; and let such as love thy salvation say continually, Let God be magnified.” (Psalm 70:4 KJV).
Since man was made for fellowship with God, our highest purpose is to praise, glorify and enjoy him. That is not a temporary engagement – it is intended to be eternal in its duration. It is intended to be our life-long occupation and our eternal enjoyment.
Some people think this kind of life is boring. Perhaps they are thinking of the insipid “worship services” of tradition-steeped, dead or dying churches. But nothing could be farther from the truth. There is nothing higher for man than doing God’s will, living as he directs and continually giving him praise and thanks. In this relationship we find purpose for life that those without God search for in vain. The fact is that we find happiness in that which we busy ourselves.
How does the child of God fulfill this purpose? There are numerous ways we can do it.
“I will praise the name of God with a song;
I will magnify him with thanksgiving.” Psalm 69:30 (ESV)
David was one who knew the joy of praising and magnifying God. Of the 150 psalms, 73 are directly attributed to him with possibly others whose authors are not named. In his and in the psalms of other authors, they pour their hearts out to God. Some of them raise up questions, some complaints, some are imprecatory, calling on God to curse or punish enemies. All of them attribute to God the power to do whatever he wills to do and acknowledge man’s dependence upon him.
Some of the most beautiful music with lyrics of deep meaning is found in the hymns of the church. There is nothing more beautiful, more deeply satisfying than to hear a congregation of God’s people raise their voices in the old familiar hymns unless it is to join in with them.
Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs need not be confined to times of church assemblies, however. We can praise God individually when we are completely by ourselves. We can join with other Christians, speaking to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs in private gatherings in our homes, with our families or around campfires in the surroundings of God’s beautiful creation.
Indeed, the singing of praise to God enriches us, teaches us, encourages us and strengthens us. Our lives are made richer and fuller for the practice of praising God in song. And the greatest thing of all is that God is magnified. His name is held up before people and his greatness extolled.
There are other ways to glorify (magnify) God. The psalmist in the above quotation tells us that we magnify him with thanksgiving. People who love God and receive good things from the hand of a loving Father are naturally grateful. It is the nature of people who recognize God as the source of life and all blessings to thank him for those blessings.
One other thought to illustrate the breadth of the possibilities of magnifying God is the unity of believers. I don’t mean the sham of unity claimed among the divided denominations. I mean the real, deep, functional God-obedient unity of brothers and sisters in the Lord that comes through their faith in him and is expressed in the kind of recognition of one another as Paul speaks of in this passage from Romans.
“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:5-7).
The design of God is the bringing of all things together in Christ – things on earth and in heaven. Paul speaks of “the mystery of [God’s] will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” (Ephesians 1:9-10). This is not a shallow, we’ll agree to disagree kind of “unity” but a real, God designed, God ordained, God given unity based on a common faith in a common Savior. This is the only kind of unity that glorifies God and accomplishes his purpose.
So, with David I invite you…
“Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together!” (Psalm 34:3).
Enjoy these two beautiful hymns.