1. Minister. What is the chief end of human life?
Child. To know God.
2. Why do you say that?
Because He created us and placed us in this world to be glorified in us. And it is indeed right that our life, of which He Himself is the beginning, should be devoted to His glory.
Of the catechism’s four parts, section 1, “Faith,” begins with the goal of our existence: To know God. For Calvin, following Scripture, that knowledge works so that God might bring glory to himself through us—a knowledge that commits one’s entire life and being to the glory of God.
But of what is this knowledge that glorifies him that is the purpose of our existence?
In the Old Testament, the Lord’s glory is equated with his name, such as in Ps 102:15:
Nations will fear the name of the Lord,
and all the kings of the earth will fear your glory.
It is God’s purpose that the peoples of the earth hear of his name—know his glory (see also, Hab 2:14).
If one were to think of how it is that a name is made known to people, the idea of “famous” or “fame” might come to mind. We could therefore think of living for God’s glory – of knowing God – as living for the fame of his name. That is, we live daily in this world to display who he is by our speech, works, our work (occupation), and our motives.
In order to see if we are doing this, we may want to end each day with a period of review before the Lord, asking, “Lord, were you revealed to others through a display of your greatness – your love, mercy, grace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, truthfulness, holiness, meekness, joy– through my conversations, conducts, concerns, and contemplations today?” Or, “Lord, were you pleased with my display of you – of you working through me – to the world today?” A simple review, followed by confession of our failures, and pleas for mercy and Spirit-wrought power to resist the temptations that led to our failures to live for that for which we were created, can be one means of striving to bring more glory to his name daily.
Recommended resource: Jerry Bridges, The Practice of Godliness (NAVPRESS), Audio CD