Doubt and unbelief. They abound. They surround us. They fill the unregenerate world and at times they even invade the regenerate heart and mind. I know - I tend to be a doubter at times. Perhaps that is why verse 44 struck me so much this morning. It seems to strike at the root of our doubts and unbelief - that root is selfishness and pride.
Christ is speaking to a group of unbelieving Jews in this passage. He has just challenged them with the fact that they "search the Scriptures, because [they] think that in them [they] have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; and yet [they] are unwilling to come to Me, that [they] may have eternal life."
Three verses later He is still pressing them with the heart of the matter. Christ, the long awaited Messiah, has come - and they don't want Him!! Why? Verse 44 gives us the answer. They are seeking their own glory not God's!
The Westminster Shorter Catechism begins with the profound question "What is the chief end of man?" In today's terms it might be asked this way - what is my purpose? Why am I here?
The answer: "Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever." I am here to glorify God and to enjoy Him! I am here for Him. He is not here for me as some divine genie in a bottle.
"Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever." I go back to that succinct statement regarding the purpose of my life time and time again. I go back to it because I need to be reminded. I seem incredibly prone to seek my own glory above Christ's. Perhaps that is why I struggle with recurring doubts.
Verse 44 pricked me. It has made me ask "If I am really, really honest what do I most desire - God's glory or my own?"
From day to day that answer changes. Some days I really do desire His glory above my own. On other days I pick up the idol of "me" and bow down before it saying: "Hey God, I think I'll do it my way today. I'll check back with you tomorrow if I feel like it." It is on those days that I fall - and usually fall hard.
J.C. Ryle was poignant in his comments on this verse. He writes:
"As long as there is anything a man is secretly loving more than God, there will be no true faith. The man may be puzzled and wonder why he does not believe. He does not see that he is like a child sitting on the lid of his toy box, wishing to open it, but not considering that his own weight keeps it shut."
Hmmm - how often do I not receive the fullness of the gifts that have been given me in Christ because I'm sitting on the "lid" rather than resting in His lap. Oh - how I need His mercy to help me abide in Him and seek His will, His way, and His glory more than my own.