God was under no constraint, no obligation, no necessity to create. That he chose to do so was purely a sovereign act on his part, caused by nothing outside himself, determined by nothing but his own mere good pleasure; for he “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Eph. 1:11). That he did create was simply for his manifestative glory.
Do some of our readers imagine that we have gone beyond what Scripture warrants? Then our appeal shall be to the Law and the Testimony: “Stand up and bless the Lord your God forever and ever: and blessed be Thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise” (Neh. 9:5). God is no gainer even from our worship. He was in no need of that external glory of his grace which arises from his redeemed, for he is glorious enough in himself without that. What was it that moved him to predestinate his elect to the praise of the glory of his grace? It was, as Ephesians 1:5 tells us, “according to the good pleasure of his will.”
-Arthur W. Pink
The following quote was in direct reference to 2 Corinthians 1:9 “We had this sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God that raiseth the dead.” This passage inspired John Bunyan to reflect on the nature of suffering in the Christina life.
“By this scripture I was made to see that if ever I would suffer rightly, I must first pass a sentence of death upon every thing that can be properly called a thing of this life, even to reckon myself, my wife, my children, my health, my enjoyment, and all, as dead to me, and myself as dead to them. The second was, to live upon God that is invisible, as Paul said in another place; the way not to faint, is to ‘look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.'”
– John Bunyan
You may be familiar with the term “do a good deed daily” or some version of it. The idea is that we should approach every day with the goal of doing at least one good deed at some point throughout our day.
I grew up with the phrase. My dad encouraged me to look for opportunities to help others and to be a good citizen. Often my “good deed” was something small like picking up a piece of litter, but for a little kid that seemed like a big deal.
I’m in my mid-twenties now and I still occasionally think about that phrase. The other day it popped into my head when I was on my lunch break and a homeless man approached me asking for assistance. My gut instinct was to brush him off and go about my business, but for some reason that phrase came to my mind. I told the guy I would buy him lunch if he came and joined me.
I want to be abundantly clear that this one act of kindness was not all that noble on my part. The extra lunch only cost me about seven dollars. I had to give up my quiet lunch hour so I could listen to a stranger ramble about his troubles, but nothing about this situation constituted a real sacrifice on my part.
It’s also worth mentioning that I did not buy this guy a meal because I was truly concerned for his wellbeing. I wish that had been my motivation. No, my prime motivation was a combination of not wanting to feel guilty and wanting to use this as a sermon illustration later. It turns out that I can be selfish even when I’m buying a homeless guy a lunch.
Lunch with this stranger came and went without incident. I ended up taking longer than I hoped. Eventually I told him that I had to get back to work, and so we parted ways. As I was leaving I remember feeling really good about myself. I was running a little late and needed to get back to work, but I knew that if someone said something about my tardiness I could tell them of my good deed and come off looking like a saint.
I was so busy basking in the glow of my own self-righteousness that I barely noticed a second homeless person approaching me. This time it was a lady. She tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if I could go back in the restaurant and buy her a bottle of water. It was a very hot day, and I easily could have spared the five minutes and $1.50 that it would have taken her to get a bottle of water, but I didn’t.
I told the lady “Sorry I’m in a hurry and I already did my good deed of the day…” The last part just came out of my mouth subconsciously. I later realized that was treating my charity like a chore. In my mind I had already earned enough credit to hold on to my “good guy” title for the day. I had no need to be kind to two people on the same day. What would be the point of that?
As I was driving away I began to feel regret about not getting that poor woman something to drink. I began to wonder why I had instinctively reacted that way. Then I began to reflect on whether I had truly cared for either of those people at all. The truth is that I did not really care about either of them. I had simply seen them as obstacles in life that needed to be dealt with.
I think a lot of us have that tendency. We approach righteousness and goodness as a scoreboard rather than as a lifestyle. We believe that we are good people if the number of good deeds we do can somehow outweigh the bad ones. Christians, however, should know that this mindset is inherently flawed.
When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus said:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
– Matthew 22:37-40
Our prime motivation in doing good shouldn’t be to get rack up enough good deeds to meet some arbitrary “good person” quota. It should be out of love for God and love for our fellow man. Had I truly been loving God with all my heart, soul, and mind, I guarantee you that those interactions and the way I reflected on them would have been completely different. On the same note, if I had truly loved my neighbor as myself then I’m sure I would have done more than simply tolerate one and dismiss the other.
The problem with us as human beings is not that we do not do enough good deeds. Our problem is that even when we do “good deeds” we often do them with the wrong motivation. As long as we are satisfied with our “good deed of the day” and our own self-appointed righteousness, we will never truly be a reflection of Christ in this world that desperately needs Him.
No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time. We shall of course be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, and the clean clothes are in the airing cupboard. The only fatal thing is to lose one’s temper and give it up. It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present to us: it is the very sign of His presence.
— C.S. Lewis, From: Letter to Mary Neylan (January 20, 1942)
Bended knee and furrowed brow
ancient man with tempestuous breath
whispers a home brewed appeal;
unmerited respite, peace
heavy burden be layed low
Frail figure eclipsed in morning shade
draped in cloth long worn and tattered
no lavish utterance or satin tongue be spoke
a simple fool before the throne
pleading new mercy, the daybreak comes
Cupped hands tremor in eager petition
loved ones, viewed now only in prayer
still in slumber unaware, they rest
shroud of peace besiege anxious soul
Amen, welcome the morning sun
“Old Man in Morning Prayer” – by Hardin Crowder (8/10/16)
The Golden Buddha is an impressive statue with immense value. It is made of solid gold and stands at around 10-feet tall and 12-feet wide. The statue weighs about five and a half tons (11,000 lbs) and would be valued at over $200 million in today’s market for the materials alone!
When one considers the massive size and value of this treasure, it is hard to believe that for nearly 300 years it was lost. What is even crazier is that this massive treasure wasn’t buried under ground or tucked away in some unknown part of the jungle. It was hiding in plain sight! Hundreds of people walked past this treasure without ever even knowing what it was!
How is that possible? Well during an 18th century conflict between Burma and Thailand, the Thai king decide to hid some of the nations most precious objects from the invading Burmese Army. A statue of this size could not easily be hidden, so the king ordered that the statue be covered with plaster and relocated a short distance away in a random temple that no one would suspect of hiding treasure.
This proved to be a wise solution, because the Burmese invaders did eventually take over the area where the statue resided, and the invaders occupied it for about a year without ever suspecting the treasure of a lifetime was right in front of them. For reasons unknown, the Thai people who reclaimed the land at the end of the conflict did not restore the statue to its former glory. Instead they simply left it exactly where it was, covered in plaster and out of sight. As time passed the knowledge of the statue’s true value was seemingly lost forever.
It wasn’t until the 1950s that the statue’s true nature was made known again. The Temple Monks of that time had decided to try to relocate the statue, and in the process of moving it they accidentally dropped the massive statue into a mud puddle. Rather than going through the sloppy process of lifting a five ton structure out of the mud, they decided to wait for the mud to dry so that they could dig it out at a later time. When one of the monks went to inspect the fallen statue a few days later, he noticed that some of the plaster had fallen off revealing the treasure that lied within.
Imagine the excitement the monk must have felt once he realized the treasure that was right in front of him this whole time!
The Bible says that human beings were created in the “Image of God.” How crazy of a thought is that! When human beings sinned in the Garden of Eden we broke our relationship with our creator. We became ashamed and tried to cover ourselves up. Like the plaster on the Golden Buddha, our sin separated us from God and hardened our hearts to Him. As time passed we became so acquainted to our spiritually dead existence that we began to assume our separation from the love of God was natural and normal.
Like the Golden Buddha face down in the mud, we have fallen far from our former glory. But while we may have forgotten our true value and worth, God our creator did not! God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into this muddy sinful world to rescue us! Even though it cost him dearly, Jesus Christ lifted us out of the mud, chipped off the plaster of sin that bound us, and made us shine as new creations!
Did you know that you were made to glorify God your creator? You are a beautiful and unique work of art! You are a lost treasure waiting to be restored and reclaimed! The sooner we understand our value, and the sooner we recognize how far we have fallen, the sooner God can begin the process of restoring us to the way we were meant to be!
Soli Deo Gloria!