“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him [be] glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
Ephesians 3:20-21 NKJV
What does it mean to glorify God? Why is it so important to glorify God? Is it vain for God to desire to be glorified? How did King David glorify God in his final psalm?
A trip to a museum or to a palace is always a fascinating experience to me. If you are a lover of fine craftsmanship, you know the delight it is to view what men and women have so artfully created to give a special significance to a particular event or person(s).
In human history, glory is associated where no expense is spared to heap praise with great pomp on important rulers, kings and queens. Glory is always associated with brightness, splendor and something to dazzle the eye…
Royal leaders are notably appointed with Lavish and beautifully fashioned clothing; Furnishings in precious metals and jewels and finely crafted adornments are provided for them so that even utilitarian items used in the rawest of human activity are exquisitely adorned.
Sometimes special documents are encased in richly appointed cabinets and tapestry. Even some parts of the church have adopted these standards ostensibly to glorify God but in reality only serve to glorify a specific office or an officer within that church denomination. But is this what the Holy Spirit intends when we are told to glorify God in the church?
The essence of the Glory of God is that God is always good. So if we are to glorify God then every experience of life or death for the Christian is transcended by this simple truth that God is always good. This is not saying that every experience is good but that every experience of the Christian who loves God works together for good. (Romans 8:28, 29)
What is glory in the church?
In previous articles, we saw that one of the three purposes of the church are to Glorify God. Yet, it is sometimes difficult to define what is meant by this.
We could notice in Ephesians 3:20, 21 that the Holy Spirit declares that this ability to glorify God is not with external extravagance but with internal power. It is sourced from the resident power of the Holy Spirit that is the life force of the church.
Nor is it confined to one family, one cultural group or one time period, but to all generations. Likewise it is present now in the church for as long as the church is tasked to bear witness of God. This is glory that the church is charged to manifest from its birth on the day of Pentecost throughout eternity.
The Apostle Paul told the believers in Corinth:
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding [and] eternal weight of glory,..“
2 Corinthians 4:17 NKJV
This is a weight of glory not in the sense of bothersome burden but rather in the sense of its vast proportions and eternal importance.
According to Vine’s expository dictionary, the use of the Greek word ‘doxa’ “in the NT is always used of a good opinion concerning one, resulting in praise, honor, and glory” So, we see that glory is associated with worship and worship is always a response to eternal truth.
Dear Child of God, your present circumstance may be anything but light and momentary. The enemy of your soul sees to it that your ‘momentary light afflictions’ feel unending and heavy. God allows our enemy to press in on us to whatever point God deems necessary to work for our ultimate good.
This allowance challenges our prideful focus on what God is doing ‘to us’, so that we might redirect our focus as King David did when he wrote at the end of a spiritual struggle:
“Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.”
Psalm 73:23-26 KJV
David was caused by his circumstances to turn from himself and focus instead on the transcendent eternal truth of God’s presence with him. In the same way, the eternal promise of our Savior to never leave us nor forsake us (John 14:23; Hebrews 13:5) draws out our hearts in worship. Our spiritual service is to offer ourselves for God’s glory as living sacrifices. (Romans 12:1)
The Goodness of His Presence
The Glory of the Lord is a phrase that we find in the Bible that speaks of the visible presence of the Lord. It is called the Shekinah glory that the Lord used to reveal Himself to His people, Israel. It is to that glory that the people of God were called to gather in worship.
God revealed Himself to His people in a pillar of fire by night and cloudy pillar by day. He showed Himself to be a shelter from heat of the wilderness. During the cold, dark nights, He showed Himself to be a source of light and warmth. This is the same promised presence of God that likewise comforts us through our pilgrimage in a hostile environment.
The ‘Shekinah Glory’ of the Lord was first revealed to the people of Israel when they murmured against God and Moses in the wilderness. In all of these visible and practical ways, God used His Glory to draw Israel’s attention away from themselves and their circumstances to the goodness of His light and His presence in their midst.
This highlights the spiritual struggle throughout the ages of man’s existence on the earth. God is glorified for who He is (a provider and sustainer). We respond in our sinful flesh by resisting His presence. Instead of loving Him for who He is, we focus on what He provides for us, or withholds from us.
John the baptizer captured his surrender to that struggle when he imperatively stated, “He must increase and I must decrease” (John 3:30). The words of John the Baptizer are exactly the opposite attitude of what took place in the garden of Eden.
It was there that mankind’s role as administrator of the Kingdom of God was wrested from them through deceit. Satan accomplished this when he drew the attention of Adam and Eve away from the glory of God and onto what God had righteously denied to them (Genesis 2:17).
Christian wedding vows are designed to focus the married couple on what they promise to be to one another rather than what they promise to do for one another. Love, honor, cherish, obey are, in reality, all promises to be something to our spouses. What we do for one another comes out of a promise to be something for one another.
However, in our relationship with God, our tendency is to focus on God’s glory as a noun that describe what He has done for us (our increase; e.g. life, health, possessions, salvation, etc)…or to us (our decrease; e.g. death, sickness, loss, discipline) rather than to actively praise Him for who He is to us.
Yet we are called to glorify God. This is an action verb that evokes a response in us to learn who He is and glorify Him as such.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”
Matthew 11:29 [KJV]
The Hebrew word translated glorify carries with it the idea of weightiness, heaviness, richness, honor. The Greek word translated glorify carries with it the idea of magnifying the worth of something or someone.
In the church, we are called to move from the noun (God’s Glory) to the verb (Glorify God). In other words, the church has a higher calling than merely trying to be a display of God’s glory in terms of what He does for us. Instead, we are called to actively glorify God for who He is whether we are found in health or sickness, in poverty or wealth, in circumstance of good or in circumstances of evil. (This curiously sounds like wedding vows, doesn’t it?)
The Sum of the Matter
Glorifying God is simply affirming that in whatever circumstance that we find ourselves, God is always good. As we do this, we are participating in the restoration of God’s kingdom that was lost in the Garden.
King David of Israel, in his last recorded prayer seems to show that at the very least, David was a man after God’s own heart because he was motivated in all that he did to glorify God in every circumstance.
“Blessed [be] the LORD God, the God of Israel, who only does wondrous things. And blessed [be] his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled [with] his glory; Amen, and Amen. The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended.”
Psalm 72:18-20 [KJV]
The Kingdom of God, when it comes to the earth will be more than His creation of and provision for mankind, it will be characterized by His presence and communion with mankind. It will be the reversal of what was lost in the Garden of Eden. This is what characterizes His church, the heirs to the Kingdom, in this present age.
The church in every age since Pentecost and to varying degrees has glorified God by bearing witness to His goodness regardless of the circumstances. It is to this that you and I as believers are called. May God grant us, as believers, the grace to fulfill this unique and holy calling…
We are the Jewels in His Crown for all the world to see.
“Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
1 Peter 2:4-5 NKJV
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