By Femi Aribisala
We often include God in our personal agendas. For instance, we say: “Give me my thing for God’s sake.” Or “Leave me alone for Christ’s sake.”
“Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent.” (Acts 17:30).
I had always assumed that God loves us more than Jesus because He gave Jesus for us. (John 3:16). Paul says: “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).
He says furthermore: “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).
However, I have now concluded that I was greatly mistaken. God loves Jesus more than He loves us. Jesus is God’s first love.
In Jesus’ prayer that we are privileged to overhear, He says to God, the Father: “You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:24). But when God called me, He spoke to me through my own lips and said: “Femi, I have loved you from the foundation of the world.”
God’s love for us is everlasting. (Jeremiah 31:3). But His love for us is from when Jesus was slain at the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:8). God’s love for Jesus, on the other hand, is from everlasting. Indeed, God only loves us because of Jesus. It is Jesus that makes us accepted in God’s beloved. (Ephesians 1:6).
That is why, to get anything from God, we cannot ask in our own names. We must ask in the name of Jesus. Jesus says: “Whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.” (John 16:23).
God’s love for Jesus is all-encompassing: “No one comes to the Father except through (Jesus).” (John 14:6).
God does not even answer our prayers for our sake. He answers our prayers because of Jesus and for the sake of His glory. Jesus says: “Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:13).
God is our very present help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:10) because this glorifies Him. He says: “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” (Psalm 50:15).
I assumed that since God is love, He loves everyone the same. But God says: “Jacob I have loved; but Esau I have hated.” (Malachi 1:3). Indeed, there is overwhelming evidence that the person that God loves most of all is Himself.
God never does anything for us. He does all things either for Himself or for Jesus. Since Jesus and God, the Father are One, this means God does all things for Himself and not for us.
Not unto us
Why did God create man? Did He create man for our sake?
No! God’s intention in creating man is all about God and not about man. He created us “according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28), to bring honour, praise, and glory to His name. He says: “These people I have formed for Myself; they shall declare My praise.” (Isaiah 43:21).
Yes, we want to be successful doctors and lawyers. We want to climb to the top of Mount Everest. But the purpose that is purposed has nothing to do with any of such personal ambitions but with the glory of God.
God says: “Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them.” (Isaiah 43:7).
This raison d’etre is even more pronounced when we are born again. Are we born a second time so that we can be richer, better known, and more successful than we were before? Not at all! Peter says we are born again to glorify God:
“You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9).
Paradoxically, even the wicked and the unrighteous are also created for this same reason, to glorify God.
Solomon says: “The Lord has made all for Himself, yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.” (Proverbs 16:4). The psalmist acknowledges the same thing to God: “Human defiance only enhances Your glory, for You use it as a weapon.” (Psalm 76:10).
A case in point is the predicament of Pharaoh. His defiance of God gave God the platform to display His glory by parting the Red Sea, enabling the Israelites to walk safely through the middle of the sea, while the Egyptian army that pursued them drowned.
Accordingly, God says to Pharaoh: “Indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” (Exodus 9:16).
For God’s sake
God does not do our wishes. He only does His wishes. “(He) works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:11-12).
Why did God rescue Israel from Egypt? “He saved them for His name’s sake, that He might make His mighty power known.” (Psalm 106:8).
After delivering the Israelites from Egypt, why did God not destroy them when they sinned against Him in the wilderness? He says: “I acted for My name’s sake, that it should not be profaned before the Gentiles, in whose sight I had brought them out.” (Ezekiel 20:14).
Why did He bring the Israelites back from exile? He says to them: “I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went.” (Ezekiel 36:22).
Passion for glory
God has a passion for His glory. He is determined that, in everything, He must be glorified. He says:
“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24).
God is very jealous of His glory. He says: “I am the Lord, that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to carved images.” (Isaiah 42:8). Therefore, the psalmist declares: “All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name.” (Psalm 86:9).
So, we must not ask God for things that will glorify us. We must only ask for things that will bring glory to God. We must pray like the psalmist:
“Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Your name give glory, because of Your mercy, because of Your truth.” (Psalm 115:1).
If it were a man who was this self-centred, we would castigate him for selfishness. However, God’s self-centredness is another great virtue, as we shall soon discover.
TO BE CONTINUED