A goal is a vision of the life that we want for ourselves. When we have a goal everything we do in life contributes to the objective we have in mind. Paul speaks about the power of personal goals in 1 Corinthians 9: 24-27:
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
Paul is using metaphors from the Roman world of athleticism. And he sees himself as a runner in the stadium. But then he says something really interesting. He tells us that the struggle to win the spiritual prize is not a competition against others. The struggle is with himself. That’s why he practices self-control. This is the kind discipline that gave him the focus to live a life of complete devotion to God. The apostle Paul was indifferent to the things that most people value today: social recognition, pleasure, beauty and possessions. From a non-christian perspective, Paul was not getting anything out life. But he shows us here that his life was pretty exciting, organised, and always moving in the right direction. What direction was that? What was Paul striving for? The prize! The eternal crown, which in Romans 5:2 means “the glory of God” - the never-ending joy of praising the beauty of God. That’s what Paul wanted in life. That what his goal. And that’s what God wants for us. He wants us to live for his glory. But what exactly does it mean to live for the glory of God? It means at least two things:
First, that we make God our first choice in life. David speaks about this in Psalm 16:8:
I have set the Lord always before me.
The culture around the Hebrew Poet was full of things that could’ve been his main support in life. But David rejected of all them to set the Lord always before him. Now when David says that he “set the Lord always before him”. We mustn’t think that he was practicing mindfulness or that he was concentrating really hard to generate a mental image of the life he wanted. To set the Lord before us means to remember the reputation of God, to live for the glory God, and to anticipate the coming of God in the Messiah. How different life is when we know what’s really important for us. When we set the Lord always before us. Look what living for the glory of God did for David. In verse 5 he shows us that true wellbeing doesn’t depend on having a property but on closeness to God. In verse 7 he tells us that when we set the Lord before us -God give us wisdom for a beautiful life. And in verse 11 David speaks about his deep conviction that God’s people are not destined for Sheol. Instead they are destined for fullness of joy and eternal pleasures at the right hand of God.
Now when we come to the NT we find that to “set the Lord always before us” means living for Jesus. Listen to the apostle Paul in Philippians 1:20-21:
It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honoured in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
It’s clear that if we want to make God our fist choice in life we need to make some serious adjustments to the way we live. This is not an option. The life that God wants us to live for him is not shaped by the demands of society or produced by our ways of thinking and behaving. The life that glorifies God is the outcome of making Jesus the object of our desires. And to do this, we need a frame of reference that helps us to keep that goal in mind. This frame of reference is the Word of God. The Bible helps us to make sure that whatever we do in life is contributing day after day to the glory of God. Without the Bible we lose sight of the goal. We forget that our purpose in life to live for the glory of God. Matthew 5:16 says:
Let you light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
What is Jesus saying here? He’s saying that the goal of the Father for our lives is to get glory though the way we live before others. The apostle Paul says the same thing Ephesians 1:11-12:
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
What else can we say. The issue is pretty clear. Paul tells us that before creation , before there was any reality different from God, the Father ordained our relationship with Jesus for the praise of his glory. That’s an amazing thought. Isn’t? Okay. So far we’ve seen that the Bible speaks with unmistakable clarity about the goal of our relationship with Christ, which is the glory of God. If we agree with that, now we need some reasons to motive us to live for God in this way. I have a couple of reasons:
First, we must live for the gory of God because we are the children of the living God. 1 John 3:1 says:
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
If we are children of the Father and that’s what we believe we are should we not then live for God’s glory and by his words? Second, we need to remember that Jesus gave himself and everything he had, his privileged position with the Father, his life, his death and resurrection so that we would have a life focused on him. In 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 Paul says this:
For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
The same focus on life is assumed in Romans 14:7-8 :
For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
This is why God made us. This is why God keeps us and sustains us. This is God why fills us with the Spirit, so that we might live for him.
Stay tuned for more in this series!