Q: What is the chief end of man?
A: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.
Why did God create you? What is the purpose of your life? These are familiar questions humans ask themselves and regardless of who you are, at some point in your life, the question of your purpose in life will come up. The answer to these questions vary. Often you hear “I am here to fulfil my mission”. “I am here to accomplish a purpose”. “I am here to impact my generation”. A more ambitious answer will read “I am here to change the world”.
As believers, the wisest thing to do is to answer the question of the purpose of our lives from the perspective of God. Indeed, God created us and He only knows the end to which He created us.
We can come up with a thousand reasons for our existence, but the Westminster Shorter Catechism quoted earlier tells us of our chief end —the very essence of our existence. The essence of our existence is to “Glorify God and Enjoy Him Forever”.
1. Glorify God
A Charge to keep I have. A God to glorify ~Charles Wesley
God is the Creator of the universe and all that is within it. He created the universe and its inhabitants for His glory: “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”(Revelation 4:11).
God is Supreme and Sovereign over all things. He is worthy to receive glory, honour and power! God has certain attributes which sets Him apart from all of His creation. He is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth (WSCQ&A4).
To glorify God is to acknowledge Him and all of His power and attributes. Not only that, it must follow by necessary consequence that we submit to Him if we indeed acknowledge Him for who He is. Acknowledging who God is doesn’t necessarily imply glorifying God. The devil does that and he trembled, but doesn’t glorify God (James 2:19). To acknowledge God is submission and obedience to Him. It is trust and dependence. In Romans 1:18-37, the Bible tells of what happens to people who do not acknowledge God in their lives. They are left to themselves. The purpose of their existence becomes distorted because they reject God. And when people reject God, they are set loose to indulge their flesh and pleasures to their own shame and punishment. Not so with the believer. Our motivations, desires, drive and aspirations must align with God’s will.
Glorifying God also manifests in a life that pleases Him. All we do as believers must be geared towards this one great end–the glory of God; because that is what we were created for, to bring glory to God (Isaiah 60:21, Romans 11:36). We are not free to live a self-pleasing life. We are God’s. He is our Creator. He owns us. He redeemed us for Himself that we will bring glory to His Holy name: “for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1Corinthians 6:20). In Ecclesiastes 12:13, after Solomon had offered all his wise counsels, he makes a remarkable conclusion worth our meditation: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man”. Fear God, keep His commandments and you have found your purpose for existence.
This is a non-negotiable, our lives must be glorifying to God in all we do: “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”(1Corinthians 10:31).
Finally, glorifying God involves worship–adoration, praise and exaltation. In Psalm 86:9, we see this truth well illustrated. The Psalmist said “All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name” Clearly, the first and second points logically leads to worship and adoration. See how the text quoted points to this:
(i) All the nations you have made (ii) shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name.
To acknowledge God as a Creator must produce an awe in us leading us to break forth in doxology.
2: Enjoy God Forever.
Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in Thee ~St. Augustine
In Augustine’s statement, we find a profound truth. God created us for Himself, and it is only in Him we will find our true satisfaction. When you look around, it is obvious people are seeking for satisfaction in wrong places. Some have turned to alcohol and drugs to find satisfaction for the emptiness of their souls. While others sink their souls in illicit relationships and sex, materialism and worldliness. All these are temporal measures for an eternal problem.
One of my favourite text of Scripture, John 6:68 points to a life that is totally surrendered to Christ without alternatives: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. In these words, “Lord, to whom shall we go?” Peter proclaims the Lordship of Christ and His exclusivity to eternal life. Beside Christ, there is no life in anyone else (Acts 4:12). Christ is life. He is the origin and ‘sustainer’ of every life; “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:3-4).
David declared words similair to Peter’s in Psalms 73:25 “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you”. This is total trust and dependence on God. In praise, after God answered her prayer and she bore Samuel, Hannah declared: “There is none holy like the LORD: for there is none besides [Him]; there is no rock like our God”(1Samuel 2:2).
In Psalm 16:5-11, the Psalmist reveals to us the profundity of who God is to him. In verse 5, he tells us the Lord is his portion. Under the Mosaic covenant God chose the Levites, setting them apart for sanctuary services. Unlike the other tribes, He gave them no inheritance. They didn’t own lands and property because God had told Aaron “You shall have no inheritance in their land, neither shall you have any portion among them. I am your portion and your inheritance among the people of Israel” (Numbers 18:20). This, though it will not apply to us directly today, the application remains that God is our “portion and inheritance”.
Indeed, you can gain the whole world and lose your soul. But if God is your portion, then you have found life and satisfaction in Him. “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (v11).
Do you find satisfaction in living for the glory of God?
1: The Westminster Confession of Faith is a Reformed confession of faith. Drawn up by the 1646 Westminster Assembly as part of the Westminster Standards to be a confession of the Church of England, it became and remains the “subordinate standard” of doctrine in the Church of Scotland, and has been influential within Presbyterian churches worldwide.