The Westminster Shorter Catechism summarizes the supreme purpose of living in this way: “to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” Anything that we do apart from God’s glory, no matter how hard we do it, will not yield the lasting pleasure we wish to find. Unwavering joy comes only when we glorify God.
Jonathan Edwards believed this as firmly as the early divines. His first resolution was compounded threefold for God’s glory. He would live for the glory of God, the good of man, and the cost of joy.
Resolved, That I will do whatsoever I think to be most to the glory of God, and my own good, profit, and pleasure, in the whole of my duration; without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved, to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved, so to do, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many soever, and how great soever.
The Glory of God and the Blessing of Peace
Edwards rightly connected God’s glory to his own good. He understood that our deepest delight is inseparable from God’s highest honor. For this reason, his first resolution was to chase his supreme joy by glorifying the supreme God. His resolve was so definite, that he made it his pursuit every moment “without any consideration of time.”
We can easily pursue good things at the expense of best. Temporal joys are generally more readily accessible, but their reward is trivial. God yields unspeakable joy, abundant peace, and true contentment to those who give Him glory. If we make this our life pursuit, we will taste of God’s goodness.
The Glory of God and the Good of Man
Jesus said that the greatest command was twofold: love the Lord with all your heart and love your neighbor. God’s affections are for mankind. If we are to love and glorify Him, then we are to love whom He loves. Edwards resolved “to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general.” Glorifying God means loving others.
God is never glorified in our exhibition of talent. We cannot serve ourselves to His honor. Rather, we glorify God by obeying Him and doing the things that please Him. Jesus came to serve man sacrificially and spread the truth about salvation (Matt. 20:28). No one glorified God like Him. We should follow in His steps.
The Glory of God and the Cost of Joy
In reality, giving God glory is not the most easiest thing to do. Often times, it is most difficult. The enemy of our faith wants to rob God of His glory and will do whatever it takes to stop us. Sometimes, this means pain.
Edwards knew this. He was resolved still. “Whatever difficulties I meet with, how many soever, and how great soever,” he says. Despite the cost, he would pursue the glory of God. It was greater than any pain, persecution, or poverty. No price was too high to stop him from honoring God.
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). God’s honor is our greatest pursuit and yields our greatest delight. When resolving to do anything, first resolve to give God glory.