I have often heard that our ultimate goal as believers is the glory of God. Yet, for years, I have been confused as to the meaning of this phrase. If I am to ‘give God all the glory’, then is it something like praise (sharing with others how great He is)? Clearly, glory and praise are similar.
I believe, though, that glory is best explained by talking about light. Glory is like brightness or glowing, so that giving somebody the glory is similar to saying that you are putting them in the spotlight. Giving God the glory is like taking any positive glow directed at your life and focusing that light on God, the real source of your positive glow.
The glory of God mentioned in the Bible was, apparently, an extremely bright and fearful light that surrounded the very presence of God. Moses interacted directly with God’s glory, so much so that the skin of his face shone! Often, when the glory of God appeared in the Bible, it was surrounded by a cloud. Even then, people often fell on their faces in response to seeing God’s glory.
Here are a few observations about the glory of God:
- Glory can only come from a good, ‘bright’ thing. A person who lives life in the flesh and walks in darkness cannot possibly give glory to God. Only when our lights are shining can we possibly use those lights as spotlights focused on the God who made us. Oh, that we would be believers who live capable of giving God glory, because there are glorious works being done in our lives by our Father! (Matthew 5:16)
- We should seek to see the glory of God. Moses had heard from God and had seen Him work. He had spent a lot of special time with God. Even then, he still had a desire to see God’s glory. (Exodus 33:18) David longed for God. He longed to see God’s power and glory, “so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.” (Psalm 63:1-2) Oh, that we would be believers who have a longing to see God for Who He is! Oh, that we would have a thirst for the awe-inspiring, fear-inducing, life-changing God, who is light! (1 John 1:5)
- We should seek for everyone to see God’s glory. God promised that His glory would fill all the earth. When Isaiah saw the Lord, the seraphim cried, “The whole earth is full of his glory.” (Isaiah 6:1-3) Oh, that we would be believers who seek for everyone to see how great God is!
- The way we will be able to show others God’s glory is through shining like Him. The way we shine like Him is the same way that Moses did. It is also what the moon does with the sun. The side of the moon that faces the sun automatically becomes a light of its own through consistent exposure to the sun’s brightness. It is through spending time in God’s presence that we begin to shine. A Christian who does not shine will not be able to give God glory. A Christian who is shining bright can then, and only then, point to the source of the light. Oh, that we would be believers who see God’s glory and bask in that glory, so that we can shine in this world!
- We must be willing to change if we want to shine brightly for God’s glory! (2 Corinthians 3:18) Spending time in God’s presence will produce changes in our habits, lifestyles, actions, and, of course, words. Oh, that we would be believers who are willing to change by the Spirit of the Lord into His image!
To summarize, giving God glory is like shining our light back on Him. To do this, we must spend time with Him (see the light), change to be more like Him (become lights ourselves), and then gladly tell others why we are so bright (shining the spotlight back on God), thus allowing them to start the same cycle.
Oh, that we would be believers who seek the glory of God!
In Ezra 7:9, we see that “according to the good hand of his God on him,” Ezra came to Jerusalem. A life with God’s hand on it can be described as a blessed, happy, abundant life!
In the next verse, we see a simple outline that is connected with the idea of Ezra’s having God’s hand on him. The Bible says:
“For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.” (Ezra 7:10)
Ezra prepared his heart to do three things:
- Seek God’s law.
Do it, or obey it.
Oh, that my life would have God’s hand of blessing on it! Oh, that I and others could see His protection and provision daily! With this desire, though, comes a clear opportunity. If I would have God’s hand on my life, I surely can have it, as Ezra did!
Oh, that I would prepare my heart to seek, obey, and teach God’s Word, the Bible! Oh, that I would daily wake up hungry for His words, be quick to obey what I find, and teach others to obey, too!
Oh, that today would be a day like that!
God has “chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world.” Does that mean we have no will? Does that mean we are ultimately really His “robots” doing His will without a will of our own?
If so, prayer becomes irrelevant, obedience becomes impossible, and God’s invitations lose importance. Biblical commands can ultimately be ignored, as they will or will not be obeyed as He decides. Praying for any result is pointless, as that result has already been determined. “Come unto me” becomes an irrelevant statement, as “coming” is not something we can choose to do.
Yet these are just three obvious problems with a complete removal of the will of man. The centuries-old debate of “God’s Will versus Man’s Will” seems to get off to a difficult start.
What if, though, the Bible clearly teaches both? Maybe the emphasis on God’s Will is meant to help us choose to glory in a great God who gave us grace just because He wanted to, not because of our merit! (Romans 9; I Corinthians 1) Maybe also, He is trying to encourage us to “walk worthy” of His choosing us. (Compare Ephesians 1-3 to Ephesians 4-6.)
On the other hand, maybe the emphasis on our will is to show how much we need His grace, because we have made and do make the wrong choices! (John 3; Romans 3) Also, maybe God is trying to emphasize our responsibility of doing His Will and sharing His willingness to extend grace to others! (Romans 10:9-15)
After bad times came to Job, what could he have done differently? The only thing I can think of is be slower to speak. Should he have put up with people talking bad about him? I think so. Should he have moved or run away to a place where everyone agreed with him? No.
He had a time where, no matter how much he repented or tried to change his position, he was going to suffer. The only right thing to do was to take it patiently. “…but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.” (I Peter 2:20)
Many prophets in the Bible seem to have had less influence, not because their message was less true or they were too direct in how they gave it or they were less likable people. Rather, their influence was simply based on how their listeners responded to the Word of God.
In other words, the message was a constant, as was the bold way they delivered it. The “variable” was the readiness of the people to listen and obey God.
If we are going to speak for God, we must understand that this “variable” does not cause the message to change. It also should not cause our bold, fearless delivery of the message to change.
Recently, I was invited to speak about what God says about disciplining children. Because of my concern with how the truth would be received, I instead taught generally about child rearing. What I said did not make any enemies, but I avoided teaching some things I know God teaches. Because of this, after the meeting, I felt as though my message had differed from God’s message.
A few days later, my friend helped me realize that my only option is to echo clearly what God says, regardless of who is listening. Sometimes, like Jeremiah’s listeners, the audience will refuse to hear and obey. Other times, like John the Baptist’s, many will respond.
The important truth I learned was that I cannot change God’s message to increase my influence and stay true to that message. I must choose the constancy of God’s message over the prospect of more influence!
While studying obedience in the Bible today, I was amazed at how often obedience was connected with God’s voice! Obedience happens when we hear first, then do what we have heard. Hearing, therefore, is a prerequisite to obedience. That is one reason it is so important to read the Bible. Through reading God’s Word, we can hear what God wants first, then do it.