Johann Sebastian Bach and other composers of his time used to sign their manuscripts with the following initials: S.D.G. The initials stood for the latin phrase Soli Deo Gloria which translates to “for the glory of God alone.” Signing the manuscript with these initials made the intention for the piece explicit. The purpose of the compositions, or for what purpose they should be played, would not be a question.
When I first learned about this, there were two things that struck me. 1) The explicit purpose. 2) Its singular nature.
The Glory of God.
For those with a specific revelation of the living God, we are provided with an explicit identity and a purpose. Here we will focus on the purpose. If I were to ask why you work we might have a few different answers. There are many purposes for which one may work. They include provisional gain, personal joy and gratification, the common good, fame and the admiration of others, and obligations of family or society. Regardless of how many of these purposes our work might intersect with, believers have a purpose that is higher than all others, encompassing of all others, undergirding all others. Our purpose is the glorification of God. All the work we do points to our Creator. Since, after all, He has created us, and has given us the work for us to do. His purpose is that He might be known. So our work – indeed our life – must point to Him if He is to be known. Thus the work that He gives us a fulfillment of His purpose as we praise and glorify God in the process.
For the Glory of God Alone.
Alone. No other. Without company. Here’s the incomplete list from above again: provisional gain, personal joy and gratification, the common good, fame and the admiration of others, and obligations of family or society. Now, none of these are our purpose. Not even the common good. Think about this. Generosity and giving, which are characteristics that help the common good, are not our purpose. Generosity and giving are consequences of a trust in God for provision, and a generous heart, both of which He gives to those he chooses for the singular purpose of His glory. All gifts are given for such a purpose. All work is given for such a purpose.
Some Challenges and Distractions
Language – Some of our language and learned habits do a horrible job of acknowledging God. We teach kids to say “thank you” setting a habit of subservience and the glorifying of others, rather than the exclusivity of subservience and glory that God requires. Many of us may be found thanking each other in public and then thanking God only in times of private prayer. Shouldn’t it be different? Shouldn’t we be thanking God in public and thanking God for others in times of private prayer.
Culture of Gratitude – There exists in parts of the world a culture of gratitude. People who believe that thankfulness is a good practice in and of itself. Again, for those who have a specific revelation of the living God the practice of thankfulness may be a distraction of sorts. Instead of a self-centered cultivation of a thankful heart, a believer’s gratitude is different. It exists as a response to the realization that God is the only giver and in control of our very life. Everything is given to or kept from us. The gratitude for both is not general. It is specific and directed towards God, the giver of life.
On the Ground
What does it look like when ALL our work point to and praises God?
How would what we do and how we do it change?
How would our language change?