“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21
This passage is considered one of the great “doxologies” of Paul. To put it simply a doxology is an utterance of praise. In the New Testament, a doxological statement is usually a response to some great truth about God. For instance, in Romans 11:33-36, after a lengthy discussion of God’s goodness, wisdom, and mercy in salvation, Paul bursts forth in praise:
“Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor? Or who has given Him a gift to Him that he might be repaid? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever.”
Likewise, Jude, in response to God’s ability to sustain and keep those who belong to Him, concludes his letter with a prayer:
“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”
There are certain truths about God that when we rightly understand them, should cause us to respond with praise. The passage above in Ephesians 3:20-21 is such a response. Paul has spent the first three chapters of this letter explaining to the Ephesians three spiritual blessings that have been given to us in Christ: redemption (Eph. 1:7; 2:1-10), the inheritance of eternal life (1:11; 2:11-22), and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within us (1:13; 3:14-19). These three blessings given to us came at great cost to the Lord (the suffering and death of Jesus) and were accomplished by the mighty power of God. Thus, the reality of these three blessings in our lives causes Paul to conclude his discussion of them by celebrating the power of God:
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
There is much hope, joy, and inspiration to be found in these words. If God can overcome our sin and our rebellious hearts and redeem us to Himself, if God can overcome our weak minds and give us insight to understand the Gospel, if God can ensure our endurance through the trials of this life by the power of His spirit, then He is capable of doing “far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.” God’s power and ability know no bounds. Whatever work God desires to do, He not only has the authority to do it, but the power to do it. Even more, we are God’s chosen vessels by which He chooses to carry out this work. God’s ability to do far more abundantly that all that we ask or think is “according to the power at work within us.” The potential of men and women that are filled with the power of God to enact change in the world is far more than we realize.
So why do we not see the world changed like we desire? First is the issue of motivation. Every spiritual blessing that Paul describes in Ephesians is wrought by God in order that He may receive glory (Eph. 1:6; 12; 14). And the reason God works abundantly through us is so that “to Him [will] be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.” God’s mission is to make much of Himself. If we are going to have His power working within us, we have to be about the same mission that He is. God will not bless a life that desires to make much of itself rather than Him. Our motivation needs to be to make much of His name in whatever we do. “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
After our motivation is brought in line with God’s motivation, we need to examine the desires of our heart and bring them in line with God-glorifying desires. A helpful verse is Psalm 37:4: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” By default, our hearts desire what brings us delight. If we delight in the Lord, then our hearts will desire what brings us more delight in Him. Since God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him, then it makes sense that God will not hesitate to fulfill the desires of a heart that delights in Him, since those desires being fulfilled will lead to Him being glorified.
This provides great freedom for the Christian. It is probably the case that too many people limit a “God-glorifying life” to only the most ministry-oriented professions: pastors, missionaries, seminary professors, etc. But that is not the case. A gas station clerk is just as integral to the Kingdom of God as a full-time evangelist, if the clerk is leveraging their job for the glory of God. God desires for His glory to be reflected everywhere: in the arts, in architecture, in business, in medicine, in law enforcement, in the home, in academia, in politics, etc. The Christian who desires to make much of the Lord but also has an affinity for software engineering doesn’t have to lay his interests at the altar of ministry and become a pastor if he wants his life to be meaningful. He has the power of God within him to enable him to be a faithful programmer for the glory of God.
No matter what we do, we are to “work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23). Pastor and author Tim Keller lists several ways that we can glorify God in our work:
- The way we serve God at work is to be personally honest and evangelize your colleagues.
- The way we serve God at work is to do skillful, excellent work.
- The way we serve God at work is to create beauty.
- The way we serve God at work is to work from a Christian motivation to glorify God, seeking to engage and influence the culture to that end.
- The way we serve God at work is with a grateful, gospel-changed heart through all the ups and downs.
- The way to serve God at work is to make money so that you can be as generous as you can.
- The way we serve God at work is to do whatever gives you the greatest joy and passion.
How can you leverage your current job, talents, and/or desires for the Kingdom? Whatever your dreams are, whatever you delight in, consider how these desires can be leveraged for the glory of God and the advancement of His Kingdom, and pursue them with all your might. You are capable of so much more than you can imagine! Kingdom dreams, ambitions, and desires are simultaneously grandiose and feasible. Dream big, because no matter how big you dream, God’s power is capable of far more.