Your chief end is not to be the smartest, the richest, the most successful, the most liked or respected. It is to glorify God by dying to self and growing in Christlikeness, which is achieved by the means of grace. Your chief end is not to find ultimate joy and contentment in the things of this world. It is to make the Lord your portion, which involves taking hold of Him through His gracious means.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
“What college are you planning on going to, and what will you study?”
“What career do you plan on pursuing?”
“Do you plan on getting married?”
“Who do you plan on marrying and when?”
If your experience has been anything like mine, you have most likely been asked these sorts of questions at some point in your life. Especially in high school and college, these questions seem to be at the forefront of everyone’s minds. While an education, a career, and marriage are certainly important things, there is a far more important question that ought to be at the forefront of our mind: “What is the chief end of man?”
As many of you already know, this is the first question in the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and its answer is this: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.” It is this truth concerning man’s chief end, or man’s primary purpose, that ought to dictate how we answer life’s other questions and ought to help us keep those things in their proper place. In other words, to live a properly ordered Christian life that is pleasing to the Lord, we must grasp what it means to glorify and enjoy Him, and the primacy those two things have over our lives.
First, what does it mean to glorify God? Matthew 16:24-27 says this:
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.”
In these verses, Jesus makes it clear that glorifying God involves self-denial. It means dying to self and living soli Deo gloria, for God’s glory alone. In other words, we must cast aside our own desires, both good and evil, and pursue wholeheartedly what God desires for us. As Christians, it’s a no-brainer that evil desires, or those desires that violate God’s will, must be done away with completely. If you are uncertain what those things are, consult Exodus 20 and Galatians 5 for guidance.
Good desires are those things that are in accord with God’s will. Examples of good desires are an education, a career, a spouse, and a family. We often don’t pause to consider our good desiresin relation to glorifying God. However, this is where we tend to get in the most trouble. As Timothy Keller says, “The human heart is an idol factory that takes good things like a successful career, love, material possessions, even family, and turns them into ultimate things.”