The only thing that God can give us to show that He truly loves us is Himself.
God created a world full of counterfeits. Solomon in his wisdom recognises this. He says: “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Nothing in this world is valuable. Nothing on earth is meaningful or worthwhile.
John says: “All that is in the world- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life- is not of the Father but is of the world.” (1 John 2:16-17).
The glory of man is illusory. It fades. Isaiah says: “Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:7-8).
Paul concurs. He says God has intentionally made man “subject to vanity.” (Romans 8:20). We like things that have no value. God says: “How long will you people refuse to respect me? You love foolish things, and you run after what is worthless.” (Psalm 4:2).
We spend our lives engaged in worthless pursuits. We worship “unrighteous mammon.” (Luke 16:9). We are led astray by “the deceitfulness of riches.” (Matthew 13:22). These riches are “uncertain.” (1 Timothy 6:17). They “make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven.” (Proverbs 23:5).
We put our treasures on earth, “where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19). But we ignore God, “the Desire of All Nations.” (Haggai 2:7). “We are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:23).
Like the foolish Chaldeans “who rejoice in their ships.” (Isaiah 43:14), we rejoice in our cars, our houses, and our possessions. But Jesus says we should rejoice for only one reason: “because (our) names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20).
He points out that: “What is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15). Everything man-made is rubbish to God. Nevertheless, we are mesmerised by them.
Jesus says: “Do not labour for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you.” (John 6:27). Solomon says: “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 1:14).
God has all that we need, and He is freely available to all. The counsel of God says:
“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance.” (Isaiah 55:1-2).
Nevertheless, we walk after things “that do not profit.” (Jeremiah 2:8).
Jesus says: “No one is good but One, that is, God.” (Mark 10:18-19).
Only one thing is valuable and that is God Himself. Only one thing is true, only one thing is noble, only one thing is just, only one thing is pure, only one thing is lovely, only one thing is of good report, only one thing is virtuous, only one thing is praiseworthy, and that One thing is God Himself. (Philippians 4;8-9).
Approving the excellent
God would have us abound “more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that (we) may approve the things that are excellent.” (Philippians 1:9-10).
However, all the things that are excellent can only be found in God. If we ever see anything good, we should know that God is behind it. If we ever see anyone outstanding in anything, God must have enabled him or her.
Therefore, we must not glorify the person, we must glorify only God. Neither should we ascribe any glory to ourselves. Jesus says: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16).
This shows that God is not being conceited for insisting that He alone should be glorified. He alone deserves all the glory.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalm 19:1-4).
The 24 elders standing before the throne of God say: “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.” (Revelation 4:11).
Since God is unique, since He is the only wonderful and glorious person in the universe, then He must be for Himself and not for us. Otherwise, He would approve what is imperfect. His aim to bring all praise and honour to Himself is linked to His determination to ensure that we do not continue to glory in worthless things.
The only thing that God can give us to show that He truly loves us is Himself. If He is to give us what is best and most satisfying, then He must give us Himself because only His righteousness brings fulfilment. (Matthew 5:6).
Therefore, God so loved the world that He gave Himself. God so loved He gave Jesus. Jesus says evil fathers give bread and fish to their children. But God gives Himself, in the person of the Holy Spirit, to those who ask Him. (Luke 11:13).
What do we do when we are given something magnificent and excellent? We praise it. We extol it. This principle must now apply only to God, the excellency of all things. God created us for this: “so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:15).
It makes perfect sense, therefore, when Jesus says: “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:37-39).
Therefore, David says: “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” (Psalm 34:1).
If we ascribe glory to anything other than God, it might destroy us. Sooner, rather than later, its vanity will be exposed, and we will be shattered. But “in (God’s) presence is fulness of joy, at His right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11).
For this reason, “Christ suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.” (1 Peter 3:18). After we come to God, we must not go back to the vanities and futilities of life.
Jesus says: “The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:45-46).