“He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”
God cares why we do what we do. He doesn’t desire rote singing, Bible reading, and prayer from us. He wants our hearts too. This is no surprise. God cares about our motivations. He even cares about when we drink sweet tea, drive down the interstate—the everything and whatevers of life (1 Cor. 10:31).
But have you ever thought about God’s motivation?
Why does God do what God does?
We know he sent his Son because he loves us. “For God so loved the world…” (John 3:16). God’s love for sinners motivates him.
And God’s glory is the motivation behind God’s love to redeem dead sinners like you and me.
“I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.” (1 John 2:12)
Why were our sins forgiven? Because we had faith? Yes (Eph. 2:8–9). Because he chose us before the foundation of the world? Yes (Eph. 1:3; Romans 8:29–30). But, ultimately, dig it all up, what is the root cause for our sins being washed white as snow?
His name’s sake.
Jesus died for God’s fame. Blood puddled on the ground at Golgotha for the glory of God, for his praise. God’s glory is God’s chief end—not us. God is the center of God’s universe.
God’s love for sinners like us, and God’s love for his fame are not at odds—they are in concert.
“All my hope and confidence is, that God will work for his name’s sake.” John Owen
And in Psalm 23, David realizes that our Lord leads us toward godliness, in paths of righteousness, for God’s majestic glory—so that God would be made much of, so that God will be seen as glorious. And this is for our good (Rom. 8:28). The exaltation of God is the best thing for us.
God does what God does for God’s glory.
“Leading and guiding in the way of safety and happiness, restoring the soul, the forgiveness of sin; and that help, deliverance, and salvation, that is consequent therein, is for God’s name.” Jonathan Edwards
God’s glory and our good, sinners benefitting sovereign pursuits, are in perfect harmony.
- “For the LORD will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you a people for himself.” (1 Samuel 12:22)
- “For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me” (Psalms 31:3)
- “Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name’s sake!” (Psalms 79:9)
- “Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make known his mighty power.” (Psalms 106:8)
- “For my name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.” (Isaiah 48:9, 11)
God is centered on his glory. Anything less for God to be centered on would be idolatry. God will not be an idolater. But God’s God-centeredness doesn’t mean he’s uninterested in you or me. Far from it. God’s God-centeredness, pursuing his name’s sake, means that God invites us, frees us, and redeems us, not only for his name’s sake, but also so we can be for his name and not our names. Jesus, not us, has been given a name that will initiate the bow-down-sequence (Philippians 2:9–11).
We exist to exalt him. And Jesus works in our lives, brining about spiritual fruit, not for our back-patting, but for praise—to make much of God.
“The most loving thing God can do for us is not to make much of us, but to work by his sovereign grace so that we can enjoy making much of him forever. So, if he would love us, he must exalt his sovereign grace and keep us in our humble, happy place.” John Piper
The Lord is our shepherd. He’s leading us in paths of righteousness—for his glory and our good. Our godliness is bigger than our godliness—it’s for glory.
We exist to make much of Jesus.
“Let every plan we frame and every choice we make have this aim: to make much of Jesus Christ. To show that he is the greatest person and the greatest treasure in the world.” – John Piper
“Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” (Psalms 115:1)