The Most Liberating Discovery

Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. (Philippians 3:1)

No one had ever taught me that God is glorified by our joy in him — that joy in God is the very thing that makes our praise an honor to God, and not hypocrisy.

But Jonathan Edwards said it so clearly and powerfully:

God glorifies himself towards the creatures also [in] two ways: (1) by appearing to . . . their understanding; (2) in communicating himself to their hearts, and in their rejoicing and delighting in, and enjoying the manifestations which he makes of himself. . . . God is glorified not only by his glory’s being seen, but by its being rejoiced in. . . .

[W]hen those that see it delight in it: God is more glorified than if they only see it. . . . He that testifies his idea of God’s glory [doesn’t] glorify God so much as he that testifies also his approbation of it and his delight in it.

This was a stunning discovery for me. I must pursue joy in God if I am to glorify him as the surpassingly valuable Reality in the universe. Joy is not a mere option alongside worship. It is an essential component of worship. Indeed the very essence of worship — being glad in the glories of God.

We have a name for those who speak their praises of God when they have no pleasure in what they praise. We call them hypocrites. Jesus said, “You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me’” (Matthew 15:7–8). This fact — that authentic praise means consummate pleasure and that the highest end of man is to drink deeply of this pleasure for God’s glory — was perhaps the most liberating discovery I have ever made.