Soli Deo Gloria.

Isa 48:11 For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? And I will not give my glory unto another.

     Lately I’ve been feeling very convicted about my motivation. I’ve been beginning to realize that it is almost impossible for me to do anything without some underlying selfish motive. That is not to say that this is intentional, more often than not I believe myself to be completely sincere. Most of the time I believe my motives to be perfectly acceptable and noble, motives like: being a better Christian, being pure, being righteous, being a better person, etc. True, these are actually good things, yet, God has been showing me that even these motives are not what He demands of me. My motives should only be to bring God glory, not to better myself. Anything less is stealing the glory that God so rightfully demands.

     So often I revert back to trying to make myself the best person I can be, or to win the most friends, or whatever else. But I’ve been learning that those things, as great as they are, are absolutely pointless if my life’s goal is not summed up in the words: Soli Deo Gloria. To God alone be the glory. As a follower of Jesus, that is the entire point behind my existence, and the moment I forget that is the moment I become completely useless.

     This idea has really been revolutionizing my thinking. I’ve had to take a step back and evaluate whether my actions and intentions are for the sake of honouring God or honouring myself. It is so easy to become trapped into the motives of self-improvement, people-pleasing, love-winning, and whatever else. Yet I have been finding the more I would strive to achieve good things out of those motives, the more I would fail, the more hurt I would cause, and the less fulfillment I would have. Lately, God’s been transforming my motives towards how I speak, act, and live.

     The words of Paul to the Thessalonian church constantly ring in my thoughts: “so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts.” Paul’s aim in everything was to please God, not men. How different would our words look if we had the same goal? I know that I have a terrible tendency to let my fear of offending someone soften my words. Man-pleasing as a motive will achieve nothing for the glory of God or for the fulfillment of man.

     Yet, what does living for the glory of God look like? That is something I have been wrestling with for the longest time. I have not by any means reached a comprehensive answer, or a five step program on how to live for God’s glory. But, I can say what this change has been looking like in my own life these days.

     Recently, I was writing in my journal, as I do every night, and ended the entry with a prayer and the words “Soli Deo Gloria.” I drew a little ship, took a picture of it, turned it into a graphic. Yay. Yet the words still didn’t sink into my heart. Truth is, I’d been praying that same prayer for quite a while in different ways, asking God to be glorified in me. He has been answering, but not in the way I expected or wanted. 

     I suppose, I was hoping to wake up one morning and live just like the apostle Paul, or something. What I received was pain, rebuke, and frustration. I had been praying for Him to be glorified in me, so He answered by destroying the sins that had been dwelling in my heart, and by allowing me to face challenges that I can’t tackle on my own, and by losing friends. How in the world is that an answer to my prayer? 

     I’ve been learning that, in my life, Soli Deo Gloria looks like letting Him be Lord over the pieces of my heart that I want to keep to myself. Soli Deo Gloria looks like admitting my own failure, weakness, and insufficiency and trusting in His strength. Soli Deo Gloria looks like speaking to please God instead of men and being willing to lose friends because of it. 

     Honestly, 2011 has already been the hardest year I’ve had in ages. Yet it is also proving to be one of the best. My grandma may have cancer, people I consider friends want nothing to do with me, I’m trying to go to school full time and teach three classes of my own, I’m learning that I’m not as good at photography as I want to be, my writings are at a stand-still, I’m finding that leading mission trips is harder than I thought. I’m lonely, I’m stressed, I’m frustrated. Yet, I have peace. I have peace because my heart is being changed by God’s grace to only want to bring Him glory. All else is secondary.  

     In my life, Soli Deo Gloria looks like being able to face life with all of its ugliness and all of its beauty and to say: “Bless the Lord, O my soul.” God is worthy to be glorified when circumstances are at their best and God is worthy to be glorified when circumstances are horrific and unbearable. 

     It is the cry of my heart that God would be glorified in all that I do and I sincerely hope you desire the same for your life. There is nothing more fulfilling. When living for the glory of God, writing research papers becomes an honour because I am writing them for the King of Glory. When living for the glory of God, driving to school becomes an honour because I am driving for the King of Glory. When you live for the glory of God, everything you do will become an act of worship. There is nothing more beautiful, there is nothing more fulfilling, and there is nothing that will bring you greater joy. What does Soli Deo Gloria look like? It looks like worship.

Rom 12:1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

About Jonathon Thigpen

I am a student, writer, photographer, traveler, teacher, and Lego enthusiast, who is endeavouring to be a man after God's own heart.
This entry was posted in Philosophy, Redemption and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Soli Deo Gloria.

  1. Carrie says:

    I would suggest that trying to be a better person and such are not motives, but goals in and of themselves. A motive is a reason. A goal is something to aim toward. The reason behind trying to be a “better Christian” or whatever else can be to glorify God, or glorify oneself. So it still does come back to what you’re saying. Good thoughts overall. S.D.G!

  2. thinkhard says:

    You are so right that desiring good things can very easily compete with desiring God. When we turn our attention to the good things that come from God it is far too easy to loose focus on the Source.

    One thing I have learned (both from my own experience and from others) which has been of tremendous help to me is that seeking good (I mean real good not just pleasure) for myself and seeking the glory of God do not actually conflict. In fact, look fully enough and you’ll find that God WANTS us to seek what is good for ourselves but only in him and NEVER before him. He must be first in all things and always the center and core of who his people are and seek to be. But if we persist in our pursuit of him we also find the good that we seek for ourselves. And it really isn’t wrong at all to seek these too as long as we realize they can only be found in him and they don’t take precedence over him.

    Two books which were tremendously valuable in sifting through this issue of seeking God related to seeking good for myself were “Desiring God” by John Piper and “The Pursuit of God” by A.W. Tozer. Both absolutely excellent and beneficial reads.

    Sorry for the long comment. To your statements regarding the glory of God being our chief end and needing to submit all else to that one purpose I simply say “Amen” and thanks for sharing so sincerely and openly!

    • Thanks for the great comment!
      That is so very true, seeking our own good is perfectly acceptable when we seek it in the context of seeking to bring God glory. ‘Desiring God’ is actually one of my favourites! One of the few books that was able to convince me to viewpoint I was set against on the outset. I’ve also heard phenominal things about Tozer’s work as well, I definitely plan on reading it one of these days!

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