Summary: We exist to glorify God. But what does it mean to glorify God?
Creation exists to glorify God. We exist to glorify God. The purpose of our life is to glorify God. The purpose of all you do is to glorify God. And the purpose of the Church is to glorify God.
But what does it mean to glorify God? First, God wants to be glorified by your salvation. “For without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). To glorify God, you must be saved from sin, death, and the devil. To glorify God, you must be in communion with Christ’s divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). The first way we are to glorify God is to receive from Him. Then we pray, praise, and give thanks.
That’s why the Son of God came down from heaven, became man, suffered and died. That’s why Jesus rose from the grave, ascended into heaven, and now sits at the right hand of the Father. All this was for our salvation.
It is for our salvation that Christ founded His Church and told His apostles to baptize, teach, preach, forgive sins, and celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Because it’s through God’s gifts to us in Word and Sacrament that we inherit eternal life and praise His mercy, now and forever. That’s how we glorify God.
But in our times of unbelief, we don’t believe that. In our unbelief, we think this God thing is just a sham. This the Prophet Malachi also experienced with the people of Israel. Let’s hear those words again
“You have spoken arrogant words against me,” says the Lord. “Yet you ask, ‘What did we say against you?’ You said, ‘It is futile to serve God,’ and ‘What did we get out of it when we followed His rules?’”
That’s what happens when unbelief takes over your life and shakes its angry fist at God. You’ve been trying to do what is right, but it seems futile. God didn’t meet your expectations. Following God looks as if it’s doing nothing for your life.
Yet, doesn’t Scripture say, “Godliness is of value in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8)? Indeed, God’s Word does say that! Yet, does God mean that you will always be happy, comfortable, and successful, that everything will always go well for you? If He does, then Bible passages like “blessed are the poor” would be a lie.
The Lord especially loves the poor. Yet, God doesn’t love them just because they happen to be poor. It’s just that when someone is poor in spirit, when he is humble, he accepts what God gives him, even if it looks futile to our eyes.
In the Old Testament, Job asked this rhetorical question, “Will we accept what is good from God, but not tragedy?” (Job 2:10). In the Lord’s Prayer, we pray, “Thy will be done.” We know that what God wills is always for our eternal good. God knows what is helpful for us, even when we don’t know.
We should thank God that He has provided all that we need. But we should also thank Him for denying us much of what we would like. For much of what we would like is poison for our souls. Moses reminded the Israelites to be careful as they were getting readying to inherit the holy land. Moses says why. “When your cattle and oxen multiply, when your silver and gold increase, then you will become arrogant. You’ll neglect the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery” (Deuteronomy 8:13-15). That is what often happens when people have everything they want.
In Malachi’s day, various troubles afflicted the people. They had poor crop yields. Their economy was in shambles. Their political life was divisive. Their daily lives were hard. They began to grumble and blame God. We’ve struggled to do what is right. We’ve tried to keep the rules and serve God--but it’s gotten us nowhere!
Maybe, it didn’t occur to the Israelites that their hard times were brought on by their own doing. Maybe, God was disciplining them. Maybe, they should fix their eyes on heaven and on the Messiah to come. They thought only of their own feelings and that they did not have a life of comfort and ease. They didn’t trust God as they should, but went by what they could see and feel. Is there a warning here for us?
Yet, Malachi speaks of more than unbelief. He also speaks of those with a weak faith. Malachi said: “Now we call the arrogant ones fortunate. Not only do those who commit wickedness prosper, they even test God and escape.” This confused God’s people. They didn’t see His justice. They suffered while the wicked got away with their theft, blasphemy, adultery, and ungodliness.