While travelling back from Fraser’s Hill this afternoon, my family and I were listening to an audio book in the car about how to be successful in winning friends and being a more influential person.
On the surface, every thing the author said was good and true—even biblical. He talked about making people feel appreciated, and about considering other people’s perspectives and needs/wants in negotiation or asking for favors.
But the more we listened, the more there seemed to be holes in his philosophy. Even though he emphasized being genuine and sincere rather than fake and selfish, something just did not seem right. So we hit pause and discussed what he was saying. It didn’t take too long before we realized the root of the problem: God was not in the picture.
We realized that no matter how considerate and generous we are to others—no matter how successful we become in our relationships, any good thing we put to practice, even if it is straight out of the Bible, will in the end still amount to nothing if God is not in the equation.
Why? Because the motivation is not the same. The most glaring difference between what this book teaches and what the Bible teaches, is the ultimate goal. The Bible teaches us to be good, to love others, to treat others with respect and kindness, and to appreciate one another. All these things are good practices, and are talked about in the book.
But the Bible teaches us to do these things for one purpose alone: That God be glorified. Every commandment in the Bible, every good thing we are taught to do, is for God’s glory.
1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us, whether we eat or drink—whatever we do, do it to the glory of God. Our reason for wanting to succeed in life should be for God’s glory. Our reason for wanting friends and to have influence on others should be for God’s glory.
We love people and we reach out to them because we want them to experience the love of Christ for themselves. We want this for them because we know that God is the only One who could ever give them full and complete fulfillment, and because God created us for His glory. For our sake, as well as His own.
At the end of all things, the only thing that matters is that we go about life living for Him, with His strength, His wisdom, His guidance, and then we praise Him and thank Him and worship Him for all of our successes because we know that it was not done in our human nature or strength. After all our accomplishments, we still recognize and acknowledge our fallenness and need for a Savior.
Such is not the case for someone who does everything “right” without God in his or her life. No matter how unselfish and virtuous we try to be, we are the ultimate masters of our own lives if Christ does not dwell in us. All our successes, every charitable deed, and every desire we possess to do something good or to make a difference in the world would be for the self.
When we do everything in our own strength, we don’t see the need for God. We get the glory. We love because we want to be loved in return. We do good because we want recognition—for others to look at us and say, “Wow, this person is amazing!”
Of course, such a person will gladly take that compliment without a moment’s hesitation. Because, “Yes! I am where I am today because I did all the hard work. I should get all the credit.” And rightly so.
But that is all the glory that person will ever receive—that momentary, temporary glory that fades into nothingness in light of eternity. Jesus says in Matthew 16:26, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?”
As humans it is difficult for us to accept that God made us for the sole purpose of His pleasure. We like to be given acknowledgement and appreciation. We like to have control over our lives and the things around us.
Letting God take control, trusting Him with our every step, relying completely on Him, and not getting any credit for our achievements goes against our human nature.
Our pride sometimes gets in the way, as do our fears and doubts. Yet it is only in doing such things that we discover the fullness of a life that is tuned to the rhythm of God’s sovereign purposes.
When we live a life that is aims to please only God, the people around us will automatically reap the benefits. We obey, God gets the glory. That’s the way He designed it to be.
But when the motivation is flipped, when we seek to do good for others so that we can reap the rewards and live a successful life, we miss out on spending all of eternity in God’s presence. All the fame and pleasure while it lasted will not be enough to give us complete fulfillment during our time on earth, and can never compensate for eternal separation from God.
So live a life that revolves around God and His glory, because Biblical principles, as good as they are, are simply not good enough. Having high morals and values may get us through life and give us some measure of happiness, but “something” is always going to be missing if God is not in the picture—just like the book I heard today.
Indeed, the Bible without God is just another “good book.” But because God is in the center of it all, because everything the Bible talks about points back to His glory, it makes all the difference in the world.
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