We speak glibly about the glory of human achievement. Success, fame and glory are the aims for which many people labour spending their entire lives pursuing them. Whether in the fields of politics, sport, business, entertainment, military or film and media – many are driven by the need to achieve these three things. We often speak of past achievements in glowing, reverential, almost sacred terms pointing to the glory of past heroes, and winners. They are lauded and celebrated. Today many think that the way to immortality, and to preserve their name beyond the grave, is to achieve success, fame and glory in this life.
This is not the way a Christian should think. As Christians, we are to be careful to put Christ first, living to worship and serve Him and His purposes to the world; living out His Creation Ordinances of constructive relationships – work that brings with it dignity, joy, and satisfaction – taking care of ourselves, each other, and nature – and the godly governing of that entrusted to us.
As a young Christian man in church, I was counselled to be careful and develop a godly character – something of eternal value and which would enable me to live wisely in this world. I was also counselled to be careful around God’s glory and to give Him all the glory in every setting. His glory is to be my highest priority – getting entangled in sin does not glorify God.
Isaiah 42:8, NLT, ‘I am the Lord; that is My name! I will not give My glory to anyone else, nor share My praise with carved idols.’
2 Corinthians 4:4, ‘Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.’
1 Corinthians 1:31, ‘…do all for the glory of God.’
The glory of God is one of the greatest of the Scriptural themes. There are many references to the glory of God. In the Hebrew glory is kavod, in the Greek, doxa. It means His splendour, the brightness of His radiance, the radiance from His holiness, the sum and total of all His perfections – His glorious worth. God is more precious than gold, more magnificent than we can imagine, and thrice holy. We are to do everything to the glory of God.
There are two basic uses of the term. In some places it is a part of our praise of God, ‘give glory to the Lord your God’ (Jeremiah 13:16). This means that we point others to the Creator and true source of every good and perfect thing. The second use speaks about His glory as the manifestation of His holiness, magnificence, beauty, power and authority, of His deity. The ultimate expression of His glory is the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is above all and manifested God’s glory through His life and ministry.
God will not share His glory with false gods, nor with any human being. He cannot share it because no-one can cope with the purity, holiness and awfulness of His glory; only Jesus could cope with His glory because it was also His own glory. The only way to come into righteously into contact with God’s glory is to believe in and be saved in Christ.
As we enter a living relationship with Christ, we are able to reflect His glory by developing holy, godly and fruitful lives. This is only possible as we partner with His Spirit and word, and in fellowship with other believers. We reflect it as others see Christ in us, and experience His presence because we live in His presence.
Satan’s work is to ensure that people keep wearing the blindfold of unbelief walking in the darkness of sin and selfishness, deaf to the voice of Christ in the Gospel. 2 Samuel 22:6, ‘The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death laid a trap in my path.’ As such, they walk past Christ without recognising His glory, or hearing His life giving words.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 1 states: ‘what is the chief end of man?’ Answer: ‘man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’ Here ‘chief end’ means ‘ultimate purpose’ or ‘greatest achievement.’ Our ultimate purpose in life is to glorify God – Father, Son and Spirit – by our godly lives, service and worship.
There is no higher goal, or greater expression of our humanity.
In order to live a Christ honouring life, I was taught the importance of learning how to walk daily with Christ bringing pleasure to Him. Some, who were worried about the lure of the world, even warned me about the peril of the three ‘g’s,’ ‘girls, gold and the glory.’ I was told the stories of Christians who ruined their Christian testimony because of:
- an illicit affair, lewd behaviour around the opposite sex, men or women who could not be trusted
- some who were greedy for money and wealth and thus stole, embezzled or focussed solely on making money to the detriment of their own soul, and everyone around them
- and those who promoted themselves in order to be lauded and praised by others, or who demanded that others should not question their ministry or claims but simply give place and adulation to them.
I was wisely counselled that the surest way to lose your ministry, or to become ineffective in the Lord’s service, was to live unwisely. It is wise to practice daily the Christian Disciplines – it is unwise to fill my mind and life with the ways of the world, and to touch God’s glory.
When one of my mentors counselled me about not touching God’s glory – I knew exactly what he meant. I was to be careful in my private moments to always give thanks, praise and the glory to Christ for all that I achieve in life. Without yielding to His Spirit, word and grace – what would I be but another worldly minded person relying on their own talents, strength and ingenuity?
In public, I was to receive thanks and praise with grace and humility, honouring those who stood shoulder to shoulder with me in life and ministry, and ultimately to speak with wisdom and generosity of spirit. If it was appropriate in the public setting – to give glory to God so Christ was exalted and honoured – but not in a way that would promote me.
Touch not the glory does not mean that we cannot accept a heartfelt thank you, or praise for a job well done. When someone thanks us, commends us speaking well of us, when we receive remuneration for the work done, when we have the pleasant feeling that something we said or did has blessed another improving their lives – at this point we say thank You God, and give Him all the glory. In a sense, we are handling His glory with clean hearts, minds and hands, and passing it on to Him whose right it is.
Being commended and appreciated are good things – it is better when someone else praises us, Proverbs 27:2, ‘Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth—a stranger, not your own lips.’ However, it is wise to remember to not let these words puff up our ego or go to our heads thinking we are more than we are, Proverbs 27:1, ‘Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring.’ God knows about our tomorrow, and the extent of our effectiveness for Him – we do not.
How we receive commendation and appreciation determines what they produce inside us. The praise of others is like seeds sown into our lives. If the soil in our souls is healthy and good – encouragement and the commendation from others produce godly contentment and a desire to further honour Christ in everything we do.
If our soil is tainted with carnality, worldliness, or selfishness – encouragement, commendation and praise will produce an evil harvest which ultimately dishonour Christ; in a sense we will have touched His glory with unclean hearts, minds and hands. He will not share His glory and we stand in a dangerous place.
- Do we receive the commendation, praise or appreciation of others with humility and grace? Or does this feed something carnal inside us that is bad for our souls?
- In life, there are those who will never see anything positive about us while there are others who only see positive things about us. The truth is somewhere inbetween.
- If I believe all the things said about me, whether good or bad, I have stopped allowing God’s word to shape my life; instead, my life is being shaped by the words of others.
- God’s glory is the manifestation of His nature, worth, majesty and holiness. It is overwhelming and a great scriptural truth.
- To live to bring glory to God is our highest and most noble estate.
- Satan still robs, kills and destroys – Christ still gives His life to those who believe in Him, His rich, full and eternal life.
- As we partner in the sharing of the Gospel we glorify Christ – Jesus still saves sinners, and still overcomes the work and darkness of Satan as the Gospel is preached and lived out.
- Men, women, young people and children each and every day are being saved, and are giving thanks, praise, honour and glory to the Lord.
Father, as we think today about Your glory, about how we are to handle Your glory, and how we are to bring glory to You by our worship, lives and service – grant us revelation and understanding. Fill us with Your Spirit. We pray that we, all in Telford Elim in person or online, and each one who reads this blog, will be able to live lives that glorify Christ. Amen