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God is better

Greg E. Gifford, MA, PhD Student

ggifford@masters.edu

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We are always in the process of choosing that which we believe is better and avoiding that which we believe is worse. If you were to go to your favorite store, you would get there by the best route you know, then you would pick the parking space that is best for you. You would proceed to select the item that you desire and you believe it is best: the food is not bruised, the package is unopened, or the value is somehow better. Then you proceed to pay for that food by waiting in the line that you see is best. We are constantly choosing that which we believe is best and avoiding that which we believe is worse. And, God has created us to be a valuing people.

God Has Created Us As Valuers

God has created us with the inclination to value/reason. One of the main differences between mankind from the animal kingdom is that, “We have an ability to reason … think logically, and learn that sets us apart from the animal world.”[1] Part of us being in the image of God is that we are rational people. God made people who, like Him, are thinkers and people who exhibit logic. Part of us being in the image of God (Gen. 1:27) is that we are reasonable people, and as reasonable people we always choose what we believe to be best. In fact, at no point in the Bible is this level of reasoning condemned. The Bible never tells you to choose the worse option. It may say, avoid the junk food—which tastes really good now—and wait for the steak to be done cooking but it never says, eat the junk food and leave the steak on the grill. Here are a few places it is encouraged and shown.

  • Psalm 118:8-9: “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes” (emphasis mine).
  • Psalm 84:10: “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness!”
  • Matt. 6:19-21:  “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal [worse], 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal [much better].”[2]

So if we are people who value and part of that is encouraged by God and instilled in us by God, then what/who is the best? What is ultimately supreme? If we are people who value and God is has made us this way, then what is the highest value and what could we deem as best? Is it football? Is it athleticism? Is it relationships? Is it a GPA? Is it a car? What is the ultimate best?

In order to get there, here is a working definition of the best: “That which is most excellent in nature, most praiseworthy in beauty, most beneficial in function, and most supreme in every capacity.” A working definition of “best” is that it is the best, no matter how you categorized it—beauty, function, usefulness, power, relevance, et cetera. It is most supreme, most excellent, and most beneficial—it is the best. So what is that? What is best?

The Best is God and Being with Him

Jesus has shown us that being a Christian is so valuable that everything we own, have, or can do is not as valuable as God (Matt. 13:44-45). He is the best; He is supreme. David would say, “one day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere” (Ps. 84:10). Paul would say, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:8). Jesus would say, it’s a joyful trade to obtain God and forfeit the world (Matt. 13:44-45). We are people who always seek what is best and God offers it to you. God offers you Himself. He says, “Come to me, for I am the best” (Isa. 55:1-7).

My life is about helping people see the supreme value of God, through Jesus Christ. He is better, so much better than anything with which you could compare Him. He is better than scholarships or a GPA. He is better than independence or athleticism. He is better than promotions, vacations, and wedding days. He is better than everything—He is better. These are the grounds from which the phrase, “Having God is better than ______” is born. Because no matter how you fill that blank, the statement is true.

Yet, the statement also represents that not only is God supremely better but we can participate in that supreme value. It would be unhelpful to know of a supremely valuable God who was unaccessible. However, through the access Christ has granted to us, we can be in right standing and commune with God (Heb. 4:14). That is is the sense in which we can “have Him.” It is not to say that we can own Him, for how can we own Him who owns all things (Ps. 50:10)? Rather, it is to say that we can be with Him who is supremely and infinitely better.

Your life is about doing what you believe to be best and, I believe that is good. The problem is when we see good things as the best thing(s). C.S. Lewis said it was like “ignorant children who want to go on making mud pies in a slum because he could not imagine what is meant by the offer of the holiday at the sea.”[3] It is like us eating the baloney sandwich when the steaks are ready on the grill.

Consequently, I believe that when we sin we are saying that God is not better but rather whatever sin we are committing is better (Jer. 2:17). When we sin, we are preferring the lesser value. We are deluded and mislead, acting against our own tendencies to value. We are shortselling and misunderstanding true value. One of the worst parts about sinning is that we are saying, “God is not better, our sin is better.”

Taste and See: Experiential Theology

The problem is not that we value, the problem is that we value wrongly. God never condemns our appetites for the best but simply says, “want more of the best.” Part of me wishes I had sanction to tell people to “try it.” You think that your career will fulfill you? Try it! You think owning a home will satisfy you? Try it! Because that satisfaction can only be filled and quenched by the One who created you that way. However, I do get to say, “try it” in a different, only with biblical sanction: “Oh, taste and see that the Lord He is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” (Ps. 34:8).

[1]Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 446.

[2]ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011), 1847. “The ‘Cove of the Parables’, a natural horshoe-shaped amphitheater whose environmental acoustics would have carried Jesus’ voice over 300 feet from the boat to a crowd of hundreds on the shore.”

[3]C.S. Lewis, Made for Heaven: And why On Earth it Matters (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2005),47-48.

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"God may be looked upon in an absolute consideration, as he is in himself the best and most excellent being, wherein we behold the concurrence of all perfections, the most amiable and beauteous excellences, to an intellectual eye, that it can have an apprehension of." --John Howe, On Delighting in God
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