The Westminster Shorter Catechism: Question One

Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

The first question a twenty-first century person usually asks when faced with a decision is, “What’s in it for me?” And, to be brutally honest, that has been man’s default position since his fall in the Garden of Eden. However, this kind of thinking actually runs counter to our very purpose. As Solomon said:

I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the children of man.

So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. 10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. 11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. (Ecc. 2)

Solomon asked, “What’s in it for me?” and discovered that the only thing he gained from that frame of mind was vanity (emptiness). Our world is full of people who have “gained the whole world,” and, yet, have lost their souls. Man was created not to chase after pleasure, education, work, agriculture, architecture, entertainment, or power; man was made “to glorify God.” As Revelation 4:11 states, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” We were created for His pleasure, not our own. However, the amazing truth is that when I am united to God, through Christ, I am able, by His grace, to truly “enjoy Him forever.”

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” (Rom. 11:36)

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