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. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth…
According to Ephesians 1:11, you exist for the praise of God‘s glory. For much of my life, I assumed this referred primarily to the things we did in worship services at church. In our prayers and especially in our singing, we praised God. So, I read Ephesians 1:11 as saying, in effect, “You exist to go to church and sing hymns and songs. That’s the core purpose of your life. Everything else is secondary.” I wasn’t crazy to think this way, either. I have heard preachers and Christian writers say something very much like this. Worship is the center of life, they claim, and worship is what we do in church.
Now, I actually like singing praise to God…to a point. When I was pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church, I helped to lead four worship services each weekend. Thus, I was singing more hymns and songs than anyone else in the church. And I loved it. It was great for my soul to spend about an hour and a half each weekend (if you added up the songs and prayers) literally praising God’s glory.
Was this the core purpose of my life? Would my life have been more glorifying to God if I quit everything else I had been doing so I could spend all of my waking hours singing praise to him? I have sometimes heard preachers and read Christian writers who envision the ultimate Christian life in these terms. They equate living for the praise of God’s glory with the activities of so-called worship services. Everything that happens outside of the sanctuary is of secondary value.
But this is not the meaning of Ephesians 1:11. As we’ll see later in the letter, there is one verse about singing to God (5:19). But there are dozens of verses about how we are to live each day. This ratio does not suggest that singing praise is insignificant. But it does remind us that we are exist for the praise of God’s glory. We are called and privileged to glorify God, not just in singing and praying, not just in doing things we identify as “spiritual,” but also in every part of life, in every action, every thought, every feeling. Just think of how different your life might be if you began to think of glorifying God as the core purpose of everything.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: So, how would your life be different if you started to think of every facet as for God’s glory? How might you do your work today (for pay, volunteer, housework, homework, etc.) differently if you were doing it for the praise of God’s glory?
PRAYER: Glorious God, you are worthy of all the praise I could ever offer, the praise of my lips, my heart, my mind, my body. You deserve praise when I gather with your people for weekly worship. And you deserve praise when I’m hard at work, or when I’m hanging out with my colleagues, or when I’m eating dinner with my family, or…
Help me, O God, to learn how to be for the praise of your glory. Amen.