The following is a lightly edited transcript.
One of the gifts that my church gave me when I left two weeks ago after 33 years, was a promise that the staff, they had assigned one person for every day, would pray for me every day for the next year, and Amanda is appointed for today. Amanda wrote me what she was praying for you, because I told her on Tuesday where I was going to be this Sunday. I want to read you what you’re being prayed for, you can just decide if it’s happening or not, or if it’s going to happen. Okay, this is what she said:
Father in heaven, your mercies are new every morning, would you cast them on Pastor John as he wakes. [I read this at 7:15 this morning. I emailed her back and said, “It’s answered. Being answered.”] Even the new mercies that he has not experienced before on the Lord’s day morning that will be sweet, a sweet surprise for him. Surely, many of this west coast flock are forever brothers and sisters.
So, would you give Pastor John a sense of kinship with these dear ones he is with this morning. Give him a special joy in proclaiming your word to this local body of believers. Tune his heart to sing your praise in their worship in the sermon. Give him Spirit-led words, winsome gestures, body language. [I’ve never had anybody pray for my body language before.] Give him body language that would lead to your greater glory. Fill Pastor John and bless him even as he is pouring himself out for you. In Jesus’s name, amen.
Thank you, Amanda.
The Greatest Truth in the World
What I decided I would like to do with you is to leave a deposit behind that was put in me when I was 22 in Pasadena. I was out here for three years ages ago. It was 1968 and the truth that I want to leave with you is this, and then put as much Bible under it as we have time to do. The truth is: God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him. Or, Christ is most magnified in you when you are most satisfied in him.
“Our task is to pursue our satisfaction in God all the time.”
Now, that truth has probably had as great an impact on my life in ministry as any truth I know. If I have one time to speak to you, I thought, “Okay, this one has had a mammoth effect on me. Let me see if I can help them know what I mean by it and then put some Bible under it.” Let me finish stating the point. God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him and since God created the universe to be glorified in, therefore, our task is to pursue our satisfaction in him all the time. That’s the whole package. There’s a couple of controversial parts to it, which is why we need to go to the Bible and defend it. There are three parts to it.
All for His Glory
First, God created the universe to be glorified in. He means for the universe to make him look great. The heavens are telling the what? The glory. Why? He made them that way. That’s why. He means for the universe to feature him. This universe is about him. It’s all about Jesus. We’re the planets, he’s the sun. He created the universe to be that way. That’s the first one.
Make Him Look Good
Second, he is seen to be glorious in our lives most when we are most satisfied in him, as opposed to everything else, especially satisfied in the midst of trials. I mean it’s easy to look satisfied when there’s no problems. If you look like you’re satisfied in Jesus when it’s bad, he looks good. He looks really good at that moment. That’s number two.
Your Duty is Delight
Third, if that’s true, then your lifelong vocation is to pursue that satisfaction in him all the time. People get a little bit edgy when I say that. Like, “You’re telling us to pursue our maximum satisfaction all the time. That doesn’t sound like self-denial. Doesn’t sound like the cross bearing I’ve heard. What’s the deal?”
Those are the three pieces and let me just say a word, a short word maybe about the first two and then a little bit more about the third one.
Created for His Glory
God created the universe in order to be glorified. Here’s a verse or two. I already gave you a Psalm 19:1. What about Isaiah 43:6–7? It goes like this. “Bring my sons from far, my daughters from the ends of the earth. Everyone whom I formed and made, whom I created for my glory.”
Now, I think that’s really clear: I’m gathering a people to myself, because I made them for my glory. That is, I mean, for my glory. I’m talking for God now. My glory, God’s glory, is to be seen reflected off of this people. That’s why I made them.
Now, here’s a little bit of ambiguity in the word glorify or magnify. Let’s take magnify. Telescopes magnify and microscopes magnify. If you think of your magnifying of God as doing what a microscope does, you’re a blasphemer. If you think of your magnifying God doing what a telescope does, you’re a worshiper. How does a microscope magnify? It takes a teeny little thing and makes it look bigger than he is, than it is. Okay, you going to do that for God? I don’t think so. Teeny little God and you’re going to make him look bigger than he is. No way. Don’t magnify God like a microscope.
What does a telescope do? A telescope takes something that looks teeny, like a star. Teeny little prick in the sky. Bigger than our solar system. And it makes it look like it really is. That’s what a telescope does. That’s what you do. Right? That’s what our lives are for. In most the people you relate to God is small. Zero almost. Little teeny God. Pull him out of your pocket when you need him every now and then. He’s a very small factor in their life. What are you for? You are to live in a way, talk in a way, feel in a way, act in a way toward them, so that God gets bigger and bigger in their lives. You make him look good.
I’m just going to hope you agree with that one. I could give you dozens more verses to defend that God created you, all of you, believer, or unbeliever in this room and this city, and this nation, and this planet and this universe for his glory. To make him look like he really is beautiful, infinite, power, wise, just, good, loving, merciful. He is the greatest being that there is and we were designed to reflect that and make people move toward that.
Glorified in Our Joy
Here’s the second one. God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him. If you have a Bible, you might want to go to Philippians 1:20–21, because I’m going to linger here a minute or two, or maybe five. I preached on this verse when I candidated for my pastorate in 1980 and they hired me. Amazing. I hadn’t had any pastoral experience at all when I came to that church and they were merciful toward me and kept me for 33 years and I thank God for it. This was my text and this was my point.
“My earnest desire is that Christ would be magnified [that’s a good translation of megalynō, you can even hear it: mega. Made to look good.] in my life, in my body, whether by life or by death.” Then, he gives this ground statement: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Whether by Life or Death
Now, everything flows for me from the connection between 20 and 21. If you got this I want my body, that is the way I live out my life in a city or wherever I am. I want to live out my life in such a way that Christ is shown to be magnificent in my living and dying. He wants to live, and while he lives, people look at the life and say, “Christ is great.” And he wants to die in a way, that when they look at his dying they say, “Christ is great.” Then he explains, in verse 21, how that could be.
Now, we don’t have time for a big exposition, so let’s just take the death pair. So, living and dying are in verse 20. Now, he talks about whether I live or whether I die in my, to live is Christ, verse 21 and to die is gain. See the parallel “to live,” parallels “living” in verse 20 and “to die” parallels “death” in verse 20. Only he says, concerning death in verse 21, to die is gain.
Let’s just leave out the life pair and read it as though that weren’t there. My eager expectation is that Christ would look magnificent in my body when I die, for to me to die is gain. How does that work? How does dying being gain for me make Christ look great in my dying? That’s what he says. Christ will look great, magnificent, magnified in my dying if for me, to die is gain.
You can figure this out. You’re lying in a hospital bed, you know your hours are few. Family is around you. Nurses and doctors are hovering. Maybe a few acquaintances don’t know you as well and they’re watching you die. If at that moment, when you know within a few hours everything on this planet that gave you joy is gone and all you’ve got is Jesus. Sex is over. Parties are over. The career is over. The marriage is over. You’re not going to be married in heaven, the Bible says so. No marriage or given in marriage in heaven. That’s a joy for this life, not the next. There’s something better in the next. That’s going to be good. Better? Yes.
When Christ Looks Valuable
How at that moment will you make Christ look good? By communicating, “I can let this go. I can let,” you can look right in their eyes with tear flowing down, “I can let you go, because I’ve got him.” If you really feel that, if you’re so satisfied in Jesus at that moment, that you can let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also. If you can let them go and they can see radiance on your face, guess who looks good in that moment? Jesus looks good in that moment.
My argument is: Christ is most magnified in that moment in you when you are most satisfied in him. He would not look good if you said to him, “I don’t want to come to you, because what really matters to me is my career. I don’t want to come to you, because what really matters to me is food and drink and sex and friends and good things, not just sin, good things matter to me more than you.” It wouldn’t make him look good. He’d look secondary or lower than that. What makes him look good is when you are stunningly satisfied in him, so that you can let it go. If that’s true in death, it’s true in life.
You go over chapter three, how does it go in verses seven and eight? “I count everything as loss for the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord.” We’ve already signed off on it, right? It’s not going to happen when you get in the when you get in the hospital bed. It’s going to be too late then. If you haven’t done it already. “Whatever gain I had, I count it as loss for his sake. Indeed, I count everything as loss, because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord.” That’s what I think Paul meant when he said, “to live is Christ.” To live is Christ and now you got to die as Christ meaning, “I’m so satisfied in Christ, I can go to be with him and not begrudge the loss of everything on the planet.”
Christ is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him, which leaves us now with this controversial conclusion. At least, a lot of people I talk to find this very controversial to say, “Therefore,” all right. I got these two big conclusions. God created the world to be glorified in. We glorify him best when we’re most satisfied by him; therefore, go for it. Maximum satisfaction, 24/7 in Jesus.
When I say maximum, I mean maximum. I’m talking about satisfaction of the fullest and the longest kind, lest anybody mistake. If you offer me satisfaction that’s 98% full and lasts 800 years, I would say, “No, thank you.” Why would I want that? Ninety-eight precent satisfaction, lasts for 800 years. Why would I want that? Psalm 16:11 has a better deal. “You show me the path of life. In your presence is fullness of joy.” How full is that? What percent? One hundred.
“What makes God look good is when you are satisfied in him, so that you can let everything else go.”
“That’s right. In your presence is fullness of joy. At your right hand are pleasures for evermore.” Not 800 years. No thank you. Not 800. 800 million ages of ages, neverending. I got a deal. If I stood up all over the country and I’ve said to folks “If you can come to me after this service and offer me, even a conceivably better deal than that, I’ll take it. I’ll leave Christ. I’ll leave Christ. If you can improve upon full and forever in Jesus. I’ll take it.”
You can’t conceive a fuller than full and you can’t conceive of longer than forever. It’s not even conceivable, let alone offerable. So, I’m not worried that any of you got a deal in your pocket that’s going to make me non-Christian. I have arrived. I’m home. I’m home. I know where I’m going. You can’t improve on what I’ve been offered in Jesus.
Therefore, I’m going to push on this conclusion. Spend your whole life pursuing this satisfaction. If you are feeling like seventy percent of it and thirty percent is in the world, work on that. Kill that. Fight for that.
The rest of our time here and I don’t know, the rest of our time is on Bible verses to support that conclusion, because you might, logic is nice. Logic is nice. You got two premises, you drew a conclusion. That’s logic and it looks valid. I think it is valid, but people won’t usually die for logic. People die for God. People die for the word of God. So, I’m going to put Bible now on this Bible church, right? Okay. I’m going to give you, seven things, maybe.
Seven Reasons to Pursue Pleasure in God
First, these are arguments from the Bible for that conclusion that you should now go out of this church, spend the rest of your life pursuing fullest and longest pleasure. Pleasure, I’m talking, pleasure in God, in God. I don’t mind using the word pleasure, because some of you might say, “Don’t you mean joy? You mean, you don’t mean pleasure. I mean pleasure, that’s low. That’s food and physical stuff.” Well, that isn’t what the Bible says. In your presence are what forevermore? Pleasures forevermore.
The Bible is utterly indiscriminate in its joy language. You got happiness used sometimes. Joy used sometimes. Pleasure used sometimes. Desire used sometimes. Satisfaction used sometimes and they’re all jumbled together. I don’t make those distinctions. If you do, that’s fine, just make sure you use all of them. If joy means high and non-related to circumstances for you and happiness just comes and goes, because it’s related to circumstances, that’s fine. You can use the words that way. Just make sure we’re pursuing it all in Jesus.
1. God Commands Joy
The Bible commands me to pursue this joy. This is simple. It commands me to. Psalm 100: “Serve the Lord with” what? “Gladness.” It’s a sin not to do that. That’s a command. Go for gladness in your serving the Lord. A begrudging service of the Lord doesn’t make the Lord look good. He looks boring. You go to church and try to serve the Lord, because you have to and you don’t want to, how does Jesus look? Terrible. Philippians 4:4: “Rejoice in the Lord and again I say, rejoice.” Psalm 37:4: “Delight yourself in the Lord.” These are commands.
I was in a seminar one time with a very prominent missionary spokesman and we were talking about motives for missions. I made my case that you should pursue missions to maximize your joy in God, because I think you should do everything to maximize your joy in God. I love this woman to death. I won’t tell you who it is, because you might know who it is and I wouldn’t want to put her in a bad light, because she’s a hero of mine. She said, “Well John, I don’t think it’s really helpful to say pursue joy in missions. I think we should say pursue obedience in missions and then the joy can come.”
You know what I said? I said, “I think that’s like saying you should not pursue apples, you should pursue fruit.” Can you compute in your head what I’m thinking? You got that? Can you figure that out? She says, “Don’t pursue joy,” equal to apples, “pursue fruit,” equal obedience. The reason that works is because what is obedience? God tells you something to do, you do it. What did he tell you to do? Pursue joy. That’s one of the apples. That’s one of the fruit. You can’t say, “Don’t do apples, do fruit.” That doesn’t make sense. Don’t do obedience, don’t pursue joy. He told you to pursue joy.
I just read you three verses. Delight yourself in the Lord. You say, “I’m going to pursue obedience, not that verse.” What? That verse said, “Pursue joy.” So, you can’t pursue obedience without pursuing joy, because he told you to pursue joy. Okay, that’s argument number one. It’s commanded in the Bible.
2. God Threatens Terrible Things
God threatens — this is scary. God threatens terrible things if we will not be happy. I’ll read you the verse. This is Deuteronomy 28:47: “Because you did not serve the Lord your God with gladness of heart; therefore, you will serve your enemies.” That just makes you say, “Whoa. Joy is serious.” In fact, C.S. Lewis one time said, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.” A lot of people equate serious with sad or boring or glum. I don’t.
Serious means, I’m on it. I am on it with all my power. I’m going for joy and I’m not going to settle for anything like ninety-eight percent or eight hundred years. This really ups the ante it seems to me in Deuteronomy 28:47 where it says, “Since you didn’t serve the Lord your God with joy, I’m going to let you serve your enemies. If you don’t think I’m worth being served for joy, try them. That’s argument number two. He threatens us with terrible things if we think He’s not worth serving with joy.
3. The Nature of Faith
The nature of faith. Just what is faith? The nature of faith teaches us to pursue our joy in Jesus. I have a verse or two in mind. John 6:35 goes like this, Jesus says, “I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me shall not hunger. Whoever believes in me, shall never thirst.” Now, would you agree with me that the way that verse is structured is in parallel. Like this, “I’m the bread of life” that’s the set up. Then, he says two things. “Whoever comes,” you got the coming. That’s the verb, “Whoever comes to me will not hunger.” Then the parallel is, “Whoever believes in me will never thirst.” Same thing, right? Whoever comes, will never hunger. Whoever believes will never thirst.
“Go for gladness in your serving the Lord.”
If I lay those on top of each other like coming and believing they explain each other, I think. Coming is a picture of movement, but he’s in heaven. We don’t, get a little closer to him like this. Now I’ve come to him. That’s not at all what he means. You come with your heart. You come with your will, your desire, you’re coming. If you come to me, if you embrace me, if you come to drink from me then you won’t thirst. Then, he explains without a metaphor. “If you believe,” oh. Oh, you meant believe. That’s what come is. You meant embrace believing, trusting.
If you trust me, if you embrace me as trustworthy, you’ll never hunger. If that’s accurate, if you’re with me in that understanding of that verse, I think I can define faith. Faith, in that verse, belief, in that verse, is a coming of the heart to Jesus as the bread of life and the living water to have the soul so satisfied in him that it’s true, we don’t hunger and we don’t thirst for anything after that. We sang that. We sang that.
What is faith? A lot of people think of faith as just believing some truths about Jesus, like he’s God, or he died for sinners. The devil knows all that. He hates it. He doesn’t embrace it. He doesn’t come to it. He doesn’t rest in it. He’s not happy because of it, but that’s what faith is. Faith sees Jesus and all that he did and it says, “Yes.” I think the very nature of faith implies pursuing satisfaction in Jesus. Pursuing soul satisfaction, so that when everything, when all around my soul gives way, he then is all my hope and stay. That’s argument number three.
4. The Nature of Evil
The nature of evil teaches us to pursue our satisfaction in God. Here is a verse about evil, namely Jeremiah 2:12–13: “Be appalled, O heavens, be shocked. Be utterly desolate, for my people have committed two great evils.” What are they? What’s evil? Here they come. “They have forsaken me, the fountain of living water,” evil number one. “And they have hewn out, dug out, cisterns, broken cisterns, wells that can hold no water.” Okay, now what is evil?
Evil is coming up to the fountain of God and tasting it and turning over here to the dirt. Going down, put your face in the dirt. Trying to get the water. That’s evil. That’s a really helpful description of evil. If you’re going to preach against evil, that’s a good way to preach against it. Why would you do that? There’s a fountain. I mean, we want to cry from the housetops in Los Angeles, “Why are you putting your face in the dirt?” I know their answers going to be, because it tastes good. Tastes like sugar. Brown sugar, sucking on the dirt. We know that’s not true. It’s going to kill them.
What we want to do is say, “No, there’s a fountain of living water. There’s a feast spread for the children of God. It’s free for everybody who will have it as their treasure. Turn. Turn back to your fountain. Don’t leave the fountain.” What that definition of evil does is show that what’s horrible and outrageous in the universe is when God is not embraced as our satisfaction. It just makes him look so bad. If you devote your whole life to getting all your satisfaction from anti-God things and non-God things, you’re making God look terrible. You’re blackballing God. You’re casting a vote of no confidence against him. You’re saying, “You don’t count. You’re just not adequate. You can’t satisfy my life.” It’s a horrible thing to say about God. That’s evil. That’s the essence of evil.
I want to press on this for just a minute. Here’s another verse, you all know this verse. Romans 3:23, “All have,” what? Sinned. Sinned and fall short of glory.
Okay, now, what’s the relationship between sinning and the glory of God? In that verse the language, the traditional language that’s used is, we fall short of it, but what does that mean? What does that mean? I’ll give you a clue what I think it means. I think Romans 1:23 is the best explanation of Romans 3:23. Because the literal word is lack. “All have sinned and lack the glory of God.” What do you mean lack? Well, Romans 1:23, they exchanged the glory of God for idols, for four-footed beasts, for images. I would say, in the twenty-first century the image that they exchange God for most is the one in the mirror. So, they exchanged the glory of God.
This is very much like Jeremiah, isn’t it? They offered the glory of God as their treasure and they look at it and they take it and they sell it. They trade it. They exchange it. For what? For themselves. I want to be God. I want to be glorious. I want you to look at me as glorious. I don’t care whether you look at God as glorious. You can have that. I want to be somebody. I don’t want to live so that he looks like somebody.
I think, you go back to Romans 3:23: all have sinned and do that. All have sinned and traded off, exchanged the glory of God. The nature and essence of sin is to prefer anything over God. Prefer anything above God. My conclusion for number four is, the nature of evil points to the fact that we should pursue our satisfaction in God.
5. Conversion and Joy in God
The nature of conversion teaches us to pursue our joy in God. You should think back now on how you got saved. I’ll read to you how you got saved. You can test yourself. Matthew 13:44, short, one of the shortest parables in the Bible. One verse. “The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure, yes, it is, hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then, in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
That’s a picture of a man walking through life with treasures in anything but God and by grace, his eyes are open, maybe at a church meeting, maybe at his mother’s knee, maybe listening to Billy Graham or some radio preacher. Suddenly, he stubs his toe on a chest. He looks down and he opens the chest, millions and millions of dollars in gold pieces hidden in the chest and according to the laws of the time, you have whatever’s in the field if you own the field. So, he covers it up, over. I got to get this field. He sells his house. He sells his car. He sells his hi-fi, or whatever they call it today, stereo. He sells his phone. Yes, he can do this on Craigslist overnight for $400. Sells it all and he buys that field, because he found a treasure that makes everything else look less valuable.
That’s a parable about King Jesus. The kingdom of heaven is Jesus the King. So, test yourself. I don’t believe in perfection. I’m chief of sinners in this room, but when you got saved, when you got converted, that happened to you. It might have been just the seed of the feeling of he’s more valuable than anything. But somebody put a gun to your head and said, “Jesus or marriage?” “Jesus or whatever?” It’s a real test. You’d say, “Jesus.” Home free. Make my day.
To be converted is to stumble upon a treasure called Jesus that turns all other treasures into dust by comparison. I think that is important to say by comparison. I think human relationships are precious. I think health is precious. I think having a job is precious. I think having a place to live is precious. These are goods that God wants us to have, but in relation to Jesus, they are as nothing. That’s number five. The nature of conversion teaches us to pursue.
6. The Call for Self-Denial
Sounds funny, I mean, it sounds perplexing, but I’ll say it. The call for self-denial teaches us to pursue our pleasure in Jesus. You might think, “Whoa. I think the call for self-denial contradicts your theology.” I’ve had people say that over and over again to me. Like, “You go around the country saying, ‘Pursue your joy. Pursue your joy. Pursue your joy.’” Said, “Excuse me. Have you ever read Jesus command to deny yourself?” I said, “Yeah, yeah, I have.” So, let me read it to you and we’ll stop where they usually stop and then we’ll keep reading where I usually stop.
“The nature and essence of sin is to prefer anything over God.”
Here we go. This is Mark 8:34–36: “If anyone would come after me,” Jesus says, “let him deny himself,” amen. Not going to contradict Jesus. “Let him deny himself and take up his cross,” that’s an instrument of execution, death to self. I am crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live. I believe in this, Jesus. “Take up your cross and follow me.” Now, that’s where my critics usually stop. Stop right there and say, “See. You’re just not preaching that.”
I say, “Well, look. Let’s read the next verse and see whether I’m preaching that.” Here’s the next verse. “For whoever would save his life will lose it.” What’s the argument there? You don’t want to lose your life, so be sure not to save it. I see the perplexity on your face. That’s what he says, isn’t it? Come on, whoever would save his life, will lose it. You don’t want to lose it so don’t save it. Keep going.
But whoever loses his life for my sake, will save it” and you do want to save it, so lose it. That’s the argument. I’m not playing games. That’s the way he talks. This is our Jesus. When they came to him, these representatives of the Pharisees and they were supposed to snatch Him and take him away and they came back without him and they said, “Nobody talks like this man.” That’s true.
What’s the argument for why you should deny yourself? Because if you don’t, you’ll lose your life and you don’t want to, so don’t. Don’t fail to deny yourself. What’s the argument? Don’t fail to deny yourself, because if you deny yourself you gain your life and you want to gain your life. Jesus is arguing against ultimate self-denial and for temporary self-denial. If you believe in ultimate self-denial, you’re anti-God, because you’d be saying, “God, what I would like or be willing to have is never seeing you again.” I’ll never go there. I want Jesus forever. So, if Jesus tells me to have him forever, you got to deny yourself, I’m all over that, because I’m after full and lasting pleasure, not temporary.
It’s like denying yourself tin, so you can have gold. One says, “I have tin for you.” And the other says, “I got gold for you.” You deny yourself tin. I’d take gold. You deny yourself mud pies. “You don’t have a holiday at the sea.” That the line we taken from C.S. Lewis. He said, “We are so easily pleased. We’re like little children making mud pies in the slums, because we can’t imagine what a holiday at the sea is like.” So, what’s this little kid supposed to deny himself? Stop making those mud pies. Hop in the car. In other words, they were having a great time, but you can’t imagine what I’m offering you. You can’t imagine. Get in the car and if you trust mom and dad, you get in the car. You go to the beach and think, “Okay, that was a good deal.”
It’s like denying yourself poison so you can have the choicest wine, even if the poison tastes the sweetest thing you ever had on the planet. Sin is poison. It’s like denying yourself like Moses said, “The fleeting pleasures of Egypt.” So you can have everlasting pleasures. Don’t anybody go out of here and say, “John Piper doesn’t believe in self-denial.” I not only believe in self-denial, I believe in martyrdom for Jesus. That’s the quickest way to joy.
7. The Nature of Christian Ministry
The nature of the Christian ministry shows us we should pursue our joy in God. I have one massively important verse in mind for me as a pastor, namely 2 Corinthians 1:24: “Not that we lord it over your faith, but we are workers with you for your joy.”
What is the calling of a pastor? A negative and a positive. Negative, we don’t lord it over your faith. We’re not lords. We work with you. We come along beside you and work for what? Your joy. A pastor is not doing his job if he’s not thinking of it as, “I’m going to give my life for the joy of my people.” The fullest and longest joy. He may, like a good mom may, give some horrible tasting medicine to a kid, because she loves the kid, make him well. A pastor may give you some bad news sometimes. May discipline you at times, but he’s all over your joy. He wants you to be eternally and fully happy.
Duty or Delight?
Seven arguments for, restate the argument and then end with an illustration. God created the universe for his glory, so that we would make him look great. Number two, the way to make him look great is that, when we’re most satisfied in him, especially in suffering, He is most glorified in us. Third, here’s some biblical evidences that we should therefore, pursue full and lasting glory, joy in him forever.
Let me circle back to how to glorify God by being satisfied in God. I been married 44 years. Let’s pretend that I can hold 44 roses in my hand. That may be too many, I’ve never tried. I’ve done 25, but not 44. They’re pretty pricey to do so. I got 44 roses behind my back. Ring the doorbell. Going to surprise my wife. Going to take her out. She doesn’t know anything about this. I got the babysitter all lined up, everything, all right?
Ring the doorbell, which I never do. She’s going to be puzzled. She opens the door, puzzled look on her face, “Johnny?” I say, “Happy anniversary Noël.” She says, “Johnny, they’re beautiful. Why did you?” I said, “It’s my duty. I read the book on how to be a husband. Husbands dutifully get flowers on the anniversary. I did it. You are loved.”
That’s the wrong answer. That’s the wrong answer to the question, “Why did you?” But you laughed at duty. Everywhere I’ve given that illustration, people laugh at duty and you should, you should. Why? Duty’s a good thing. You’re going to pray over a marine in a minute, right? That’s a good thing. Marines have duty. They a job to do. Not an easy job, right? Going to do my duty for God, for country, for whatever that person believes in. “I’m going to do the duty.” Duty’s not a laughable thing, always. In my story, it’s laughable. Why? I’ll tell you why, by retelling the story.
Ding-dong. She opens the door. “Happy anniversary, Noël.” “Oh, Johnny, they’re beautiful. Why did you?” “Because nothing makes me happier than buying you flowers and spending the night with you. I’ve arranged for a babysitter and we’re going out. Here’s the flowers, because this makes my day.” Not in a thousand years would she say, “You are so selfish. All you ever think of is what makes you happy, this makes your day. What about my day?” Why wouldn’t she say that? I’ll tell you why, because my being satisfied in her, glorifies her. You know it. She knows it. Everybody knows it. That’s the way it works.
“Deny yourself tin so that you can have gold.”
If I say, “I bought you the flowers because it’s the duty to buy flowers when you’re a husband.” That’s a loser. If I say, “I bought you the flowers, because it makes me happy to buy you flowers. I made arrangements for the babysitter, because it makes me happy, me happy to be with you tonight.” She’s not calling me selfish. She’s calling me, “Thank you, thank you, you love me. You’ve put treasure on me. You valued me.”
That’s exactly what God feels on Sunday morning. When you walk into a worship service and you don’t say, “I’m here because this is what Christians are supposed to do. I read the book on discipleship. Chapter eight, corporate worship, one of the disciplines. I’m here.” God is not honored, but if you say, “Why am I here? Nothing makes me happier than to know you, love you, treasure you with the brothers and sisters.”
The sentence I hope you’ll take away is this: God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in him. So, let’s be about it until he comes.