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A Good Word from C.S. Lewis

By August 10, 2011No Comments

This week I rediscovered a theological gem that I had almost forgotten. I read it for the first time when I was in college, and back then it revolutionized the way I understood God. In fact, it has inspired and delighted me to almost the same effect this second time around.

The passage to which I am referring appears in C.S. Lewis’ book Reflections on the Psalms. Here Lewis explains why God commands us to praise Him, and why that command is good. As Lewis explains, God is not a narcissist who puffs Himself up by way of coerced compliments. Instead, God created us to glorify Him because it is the key to our greatest joy:

“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is the appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling on another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because the people with you care for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch; to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with (the perfect hearer died a year ago). This is so even when our expressions are inadequate, as of course they usually are. But how if one could really and fully praise even such things to perfection–utterly ‘get out’ in poetry or music or paint the upsurge of appreciation which almost bursts you? Then indeed the object would have attained perfect development. The worthier the object, the more intense this delight would be. If it were possible for a created soul fully (I mean, up to the full measure conceivably in a finite being) to ‘appreciate,’ that is to love and delight in, the worthiest object of all, and simultaneously at every moment to give this delight perfect expression, then that soul would be in supreme beautitude.”

Lewis therefore concludes,” In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.”

What a beautiful and welcome reminder that abundant life is only to be had by living for the glory of God. A life of praise perfects our enjoyment of God, which is the utmost joy to be had. Living for my own glory, on the other hand, is empty, futile, and a chasing after the wind. It will never satisfy. But as John Piper says, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” What a blessed arrangement.

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