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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Short of Glory

In Paul's most concise statement on the universality of sin, he writes (feel free to quote along with me ... you know the words), "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Rom 3:23) Anyone who has spent any time in the Word knows that one. It's the standard answer to "Who is a sinner?" "Everyone, because 'all have sinned'." We get it. What we miss is the nature of that sin. Paul says that in that sin we "fall short of the glory of God." And therein lies the problem. Therein lies the reason for Hell rather than a slap on the wrist, a time of "purgatory", a "time out". The magnitude of the crime determines the magnitude of the consequence, and "fall short of the glory of God" is massive.

We humans are pretty much set in the "I am the center of the universe" kind of thinking. We can hardly escape it. Even Christians who should know better. When David said, "Against You and You only have I sinned," (Psa 51:4) many of us are uncomfortable if not a bit peeved because, after all, the big sin here was murder and adultery ... because we are the important ones. When something bad happens we question God's goodness because we are the important ones. It's this kind of thinking that produces such nonsensical heresies as "health and wealth" theology that turns God into our butler to make us happy, healthy, and wealthy. (And apparently not wise.) So, as a matter of course, we "fall short of the glory of God".

But I'm not here to berate us all for our sin. I'm offering another path. There is an alternative. Jesus said, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Luke 12:34). That which you most prize determines your focus. If you find your greatest joy in the glory of God, your heart will go there.

Now, think about that. Imagine how that might work out. Say, for instance, you have problems with lust. Maybe it's sex. Maybe it's another person. Maybe it's pornography. Whatever. As long as you find your greatest joy in those things and what they bring, they will remain your problem. But once you find your greatest joy in God and His glory, those things don't matter so much anymore. It's not a case of "will", a matter of "effort", a travail of "self-control"; it's a matter of joy. Where's your joy? It works in lust or greed or depression or pride or ... you go on with your own list. Imagine an alcoholic trying to stay off the sauce. He is offered a drink. "No, thanks," he says. "I'd better not." Fine. One approach. But if his greatest joy is God's greatest glory, his answer would be different. "Why would I do that when there are so many better things to do to glorify God?" Not only a change in direction; a change in attitude.

If your life is aimed at God's glory -- not falling short of His glory -- then your highest joy is bringing everything into alignment with glorifying Him. If you offered a meat-lover the choice of a steak or a salad for dinner, he might say, "I could eat a salad for dinner, but I'd much rather eat a steak." In a similar same way, "I could commit those sins I'm fighting, but I'd much rather glorify God." It stops being an effort, a hardship, toil and starts being a joy. It's not just a change in direction; it's a change in pleasure. Now your highest pleasure is in His glory.

If you don't fall short of the glory of God, your goal is to "do all to the glory of God." (1 Cor 10:31) Not out of duty; out of joy. Don't fall short of the glory of God. Indulge your passion for His glory.

2 comments:

Leigh Marlow said...

boom! thats a drop the mike moment! love this sentence "Why would I do that when there are so many better things to do to glorify God?" Not only a change in direction; a change in attitude."

Stan said...

If I could arrive at "All my joy is found in You, Lord", I'd arrive at sinless perfection.