Our Good Is His Glory
By John Piper
“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6)
One common objection to Christian Hedonism is that it puts the interests of man above the glory of God — that it puts my happiness above God’s honor. But Christian Hedonism most emphatically does not do this.
To be sure, we Christian Hedonists endeavor to pursue our interest and our happiness with all our might. We endorse the resolution of the young Jonathan Edwards: “Resolved: To endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness in the other world as I possibly can, with all the power, might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.”
But we have learned from the Bible (and from Edwards!) that God’s interest is to magnify the fullness of his glory by spilling over in mercy to us — to us sinners, who desperately need him.
Therefore, the pursuit of our interest and our happiness, even if it costs us our lives, is never above God’s interest and God’s happiness and God’s glory, but always inGod’s. One of the most precious truths in the Bible is that God’s greatest interest is to glorify the wealth of his grace by making sinners happy in him — in him!
When we humble ourselves like little children and put on no airs of self-sufficiency, but run happily into the joy of our Father’s embrace, the glory of his grace is magnified and the longing of our soul is satisfied. Our interest and his glory become one.
When Jesus promises in Matthew 6:6, “Your Father who sees in secret will reward you,” this is a reward he wants us to seek. He does not lure us with joy we shouldn’t have! But this reward — this joy — is the overflow of turning away from human praise, and going into our closet to seek God.
Therefore, Christian Hedonists do not put their happiness above God’s glory. They put their happiness in God himself and discover the glorious truth that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.
[Caspian] stood irresolute for a moment and then shouted out to the ship in general.
“Well, have your way. The quest is ended. We all return. Get the boat up again.”
“Sire,” said Reepicheep, “we do not all return. I, as I explained before—”
“Silence!” thundered Caspian. “I’ve been lessoned but I’ll not be baited. Will no one silence that Mouse?”
“Your Majesty promised,” said Reepicheep, “to be a good lord to the Talking Beasts of Narnia.”
“Talking beasts, yes,” said Caspian. “I said nothing about beasts that never stop talking.” And he flung down the ladder in a temper and went into the cabin, slamming the door.
But when the others rejoined him a little later they found him changed; he was white and there were tears in his eyes.
“It’s no good,” he said. “I might as well have behaved decently for all the good I did with my temper and swagger. Aslan has spoken to me. No—I don’t mean he was actually here. He wouldn’t fit into the cabin, for one thing. But that gold lion’s head on the wall came to life and spoke to me. It was terrible—his eyes. Not that he was at all rough with me—only a bit stern at first. But it was terrible all the same. And he said—he said—oh, I can’t bear it. The worst thing he could have said. You’re to go on—Reep and Edmund, and Lucy, and Eustace; and I’m to go back. Alone. And at once. And what is the good of anything?”
“Caspian, dear,” said Lucy. “You knew we’d have to go back to our own world sooner or later.”
“Yes,” said Caspian with a sob, “but this is sooner.”
From The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Compiled in A Year with Aslan
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Copyright © 1952 by C. S. Lewis Pte., Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1980 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. A Year With Aslan: Daily Reflections from The Chronicles of Narnia. Copyright © 2010 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Extracts taken from The Chronicles of Narnia. Copyright © C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. 1950-1956. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
Why Are We All So Lonely?
A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?
Ecclesiastes 2:24-25, NIV
A British paper ran a column entitled “Life Looks Good on the Surface So Why Are We All So Lonely?” The writer Liz Hoggard said her life looked great in her social media posts. She attended the theater every night and spent her weekends at cultural events. One person told her, “I follow your glittery life in awe.” But, Liz admitted, her stress, tears, rejection, and loneliness don’t show up on her social media posts, yet they are a constant reality.1
Some of our loneliest moments occur on important days—birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. Why not anticipate the challenges in advance? You know when your birthday will occur. Plan what you’re going to do. Invite a neighbor for tea on that day or spend the afternoon volunteering. If possible, let your family know you might need them on that day. By planning in advance, you can minimize the dangers of self-pity or loneliness.
We can’t avoid loneliness, but as Christians we should be able to deal with it better than those without Christ. Ask for God’s help, reach out to others, and don’t let loneliness get the best of you.
God doesn’t only come and sit with us; He also enables us to enjoy the pleasures of His presence.
1Liz Haggard, “Life Looks So Good on the Surface…” The Telegraph, April 23, 2017.
Zechariah 1 – 5
For me, this is perhaps one of the most meaningful descriptions that can be given to Christ. I am, we are all, helpless in some way. When I have met my end, I find my new beginning in Him and through Him. For joy upon joy, the Helper has sent "another Helper" like himself - who ever lives, ever comforts, ever strengthens, ever empowers, ever fills, ever makes it his priority to help. Why? Perhaps so that we might help others with the same help that He has supplied. I wonder who he desires that I help today, tomorrow...
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama Sabastian?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
A mysterious passage in the Bible has Jesus feeling forsaken by God the Father. It is mysterious because we think of the Godhead as being united in love and purpose. And it is. But in the moment that Jesus Christ hung on the cross, He was bearing the sins of the world. He had become sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). Because holy God cannot dwell in the presence of sin, He turned away from His Son who had become sin in our place. Could there be any lonelier cry in history than these words of Jesus?
Yes, Jesus felt abandoned. But just as He knew David’s “forsaken” lament from Psalm 22:1, He also knew David’s hope of resurrection in Psalm 16. He knew that God’s forsaking was only for a season. On the third day He was alive again! There may be times of discipline in our life in which God’s actions may be “painful” (Hebrews 12:11). But He has not forsaken us; He is not punishing us. He is teaching us to share in His holiness (Hebrews 12:10).
God does not leave nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). We must walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
None can find out a single person whom God has forsaken after having revealed Himself savingly to him.
Charles H. Spurgeon
Haggai 1 – 2
Were the Old Testament saints confident of a personal afterlife?
Some forms of contemporary Judaism do not include a belief in life after death. We know that in Jesus' day there was a great debate over that point between two parties of the contemporary Jewish nation, the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Pharisees believed in life after death; the Sadducees did not. You would think that those who were leaders in the household of Israel would be agreed on a point like that if it were spelled out with obvious clarity in the Old Testament.
Of course, one of the debates between those two parties was what constituted the Old Testament. Was it just the first five books of Moses, or did it include all of what today's Christian would consider to be the Old Testament—the Prophets and the Wisdom Literature? The concept of life after death in the Old Testament (indicated often by references to Sheol) is somewhat vague and shadowy; death is depicted as a place beyond the grave where both good and bad people go. The clarity with which the New Testament proclaims life after death is not found in the same dimension in the Old Testament. I think it's there, and if you study the Major Prophets, particularly Isaiah, you will see that the teaching of life after death is clearly set forth in the Old Testament. However, I'm looking at the Old Testament with the benefit of the information coming to me through the New Testament.
Certainly there were lots of folks who read the same Old Testament material and didn't see references to afterlife so clearly. During Job's struggle with earthly trials, he asked, "If a man dies, will he live again?" We see later that Job says in a note of triumph and as an expression of confidence and faith, "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and I will see him standing on that day." Christians have looked back at that and said, "Well, if Job is that confident of a redeemer who will set him free in some distant future, then obviously this is an expression from great antiquity of confidence in life after death." But Job's word that is translated "redeemer" actually means "vindicator." Job is simply saying that he is confident he will be vindicated. Now, whether or not that included in Job's mind an ultimate vindication in heaven is again subject to some debate.
David's confidence, however, of future reunion with his child who had died is a clear indication of his confidence in an afterlife. It was not unknown among the Old Testament saints that there would be a future life. It simply is not as clear as it is in the New Testament.
“This is the Boy,” said Aslan, looking, not at Digory, but at his councillors. “This is the Boy who did it.”
“Oh dear,” thought Digory, “what have I done now?”
“Son of Adam,” said the Lion. “There is an evil Witch abroad in my new land of Narnia. Tell these good Beasts how she came here.”
A dozen different things that he might say flashed through Digory’s mind, but he had the sense to say nothing except the exact truth.
“I brought her, Aslan,” he answered in a low voice.
“For what purpose?”
“I wanted to get her out of my own world back into her own. I thought I was taking her back to her own place.”
“How came she to be in your world, son of Adam?”
“By—by Magic.” The Lion said nothing and Digory knew that he had not told enough. “It was my Uncle, Aslan,” he said. “He sent us out of our own world by magic rings, at least I had to go because he sent Polly first, and then we met the Witch in a place called Charn and she just held on to us when—”
“You met the Witch?” said Aslan in a low voice which had the threat of a growl in it.
“She woke up,” said Digory wretchedly. And then, turning very white, “I mean, I woke her. Because I wanted to know what would happen if I struck a bell. Polly didn’t want to. It wasn’t her fault. I—I fought her. I know I shouldn’t have. I think I was a bit enchanted by the writing under the bell.”
“Do you?” asked Aslan; still speaking very low and deep.
“No,” said Digory. “I see now I wasn’t. I was only pretending.” There was a long pause. And Digory was thinking all the time, “I’ve spoiled everything. There’s no chance of getting anything for Mother now.”
When the Lion spoke again it was not to Digory.
“You see, friends,” he said, “that before the new, clean world I gave you is seven hours old, a force of evil has already entered it; waked and brought hither by this son of Adam.” The Beasts, even Strawberry, all turned their eyes on Digory till he felt that he wished the ground would swallow him up. “But do not be cast down,” said Aslan, still speaking to the Beasts. “Evil will come of that evil, but it is still a long way off, and I will see to it that the worst falls upon myself. In the meantime, let us take such order that for many hundred years yet this shall be a merry land in a merry world. And as Adam’s race has done the harm, Adam’s race shall help to heal it.”
From The Magician's Nephew
Compiled in A Year with Aslan
The Magician's Nephew. Copyright © 1955 by C. S. Lewis Pte., Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1983 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. A Year With Aslan: Daily Reflections from The Chronicles of Narnia. Copyright © 2010 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Extracts taken from The Chronicles of Narnia. Copyright © C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. 1950-1956. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.