Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Glorifying God...the Hard Way

“This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God.” (John 21:19a)

A.W. Tozer suggested that a spiritually productive prayer would be, “God, glorify Thyself, and do it at my expense.” It is safe to say, most of us would consider the glory of God to be the highest of all goals. Indeed, in the Westminster Confession considers the glorifying God to be “man’s chief end.” Sometimes, though, this all sounds well and good until we find ourselves with our backs against the wall—at least theoretically. (Our pastor told us last week about a new book entitled, God Never Has Failed Me, but He Has Scared Me to Death a Few Times!) As one preacher said, “We’re never as dedicated as we think we are.”

Still, our most meaningful goal, as recipients of the undeserved grace of God, must be to use whatever means God puts at our disposal to magnify and glorify His name. One way that can easily be overlooked is what we find is this verse in John—our death. And this is appropriate, I would seem, because, while older people are living longer, young people are dying earlier. This may sound like a contradiction, but if you pay attention to statistics, I think you will agree. Therefore, just as it’s never too late to think about living, it’s never too early to think about dying. And, as this indicates, just as there is more than one cause of death, there is more than one way to die. By this I mean, some deaths are more significant and meaningfully. Or, to use John’s term, there are some deaths that “glorify God”; in which case, there are others that do not.

How, then, shall you and I glorify “the God of the living” by our deaths? Besides the many we read of in the Bible, we know of countless examples of deaths down through history that served to inspire, and, in some cases, inflame those around them. But, in each case, I would venture to say that the common thread among them would have to be this: These people glorified God in their deaths, because they glorified God in their lives.

Those who live well, spiritually, generally have a way of dying well. And exceptions are just that—exceptions. In addition, it is good to remember that we may plan our funerals, but others will take care of the eulogies. We are writing our obituaries now. And, personally, if anything good is said about me at my home-going celebration, I don’t want it to be vague hear-say, I want there to be convincing evidence. I want my death to make Heaven seem more real and more accessible. I want the reality of Christ in a life to be more validated than ever. In short, I want my death to glorify God.

“According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing
I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now
also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be life, or by
death.” (Philippians 1:20)

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