By, Isam Itson III
As parents, my wife and I are consumed with securing our son’s well-being and nurturing his ability to succeed. We want the best for him, and we work hard for his benefit. We’re like those birds on the nature documentaries that spend every waking moment hunting, or fishing, or foraging to feed their voracious young. All of their time and energy is devoted to making sure their chicks become strong enough to survive and thrive when they leave the nest. Like the birds, we want our son to have a rich full life. We want him to be happy. God is no different.
In Genesis 1 we see that God uses his position of authority and his supreme power, investing his time and spending his energy, making room for others and enabling others who are less powerful to pursue lives of meaning and purpose. This is where we really gain insight into the father’s heart. Genesis 1:28 says, ”And God blessed them. And God said to them,”. God provided everything necessary for all of the living creatures to thrive. For humans, made in God’s image, this included a statement of our collective purpose. God let us know why he made us. He made us to rule over the other living creatures in his name, in cooperation with each other.
In the act of creation, God provided us with the resources, the people, and the wisdom we need to live a blessed or happy life. Spending our time and energy to bless the earth and the other creatures with whom we share it is a happy life that fulfills God’s purpose for us. He privileged us with the gifts and opportunity to help each other honor God in relationship to the rest of his earthly creation. In essence, God said, “Continue to do for others what I have done for you.” That’s what it means to bear God’s image. We are meant to honor God in relationship to each other, and the other living creatures, on purpose, with our words and actions.
God has provided everything we need to live. Now he wants us to use the life that he has given us to help others live and pursue their God given purpose and responsibility. God did not need food, or water, or air, in order to live. God already had a relationship with others. He exerted himself on our behalf, at his own expense, for our good. This is what glorifies, or honors, God’s character and values and makes God happy.
Personally investing our time and focussing our attention and energy toward helping others become uniquely productive and responsible human beings, honors God’s sovereign love and blesses us. The path that leads to our personal and collective fulfillment and happiness is encouraging, equipping, and empowering others to join us as we honor our God given privilege and responsibility no matter what it costs us personally, socially, financially, or materially. This is the key to happiness.
1. Am I making the most of the time, energy, and resources God has already given me for the immediate and enduring benefit of others who lack my social or material resources?
2. How much of my God given time, energy, attention, and resources do I use seeking the best for others beyond my immediate circle of family and friends?
3. Is there anyone among my family and friends who is dedicated to helping me persistently seek the best for other people as a way of life?