Giving Glory To God

“Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all things to God’s glory.”

– 1 Corinthians 10:31

Giving Glory To God

Author’s Note:

This is a study on what it means to glorify God and how we believers can become more effective at it.

Why did I do this study? Well, I knew the Bible says that we are to do everything for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31), but I didn’t have a clear understanding of what that meant. Obviously it meant something good – to please God, to honor Him – but I wanted to know more than just the general meaning. I don’t remember ever hearing a sermon or reading a book on this subject, although I’m sure it’s been done before. I thought this unusual because it seemed to me to be a very important topic, one that holds the key to a fulfilled, sanctified life and a strong relationship with God. So, I started studying this for the benefit of my own walk with God and I hope this will be of benefit to you also.

I am not a writer, and maybe it shows. Some parts are more developed than others, which you should take as opportunities to study more in depth. There is alot more to be gleened here… perhaps as much as a study on God’s grace or the diety of Jesus Christ. Next time you study your Bible, try doing so in the light (pardon the pun) of giving glory to God.

I’m also a layman; I have no formal theological training. As such, don’t believe everything I say just because I quote alot of scripture. Study God’s word yourself and study it in context. I’m fallible just like everybody else. Any good that comes out of this study is entirely due to God.

The scripture text I’ve used is based on the very literal 1890 J.N. Darby translation. I’ve modernized some of the older language with the aid of a lexicon for better comprehension and readability. I used the Online Bible while putting this together. The Online Bible is an excellent freeware Bible study program for DOS and Windows.

If you feel this has been of benefit to you, please pass it on to a friend.

– Andrew R. Bernhardt

Introduction

Everything in creation exists for the glory of God, including ourselves. Whatever we do, we are to do for the glory of God. We spread the gospel for the glory of God. We obey God’s word for the glory of God. We submit to those who are over us and we endure suffering and persecution for the glory of God. But what does it mean to glorify God and how can we become better at it? That is what I will try to answer in this practical study.

When man boasts about himself, we think he has an ego problem, and rightly so. Do you think it was selfish of God to create us for His glory? Your answer to that question reveals what you think about Him.

If you think it was selfish of Him, it is a sign that you do not truly appreciate who He is and what He has done for us. His unselfishness was shown in the loving act of sending His only Son into the world to die for us. Would a selfish God give Himself for what He has created? No. He didn’t have to do anything for us. He could have let justice fall, and we would never have been able to experience the joy of knowing Him. But we were created not just to glorify God but to have an intimate relationship with Him. We are to glorify Him because we can never repay what He has done for us.

Love for God and appreciation for what he has done for us should create in us a desire to bring as much glory to Him as we possibly can. It is harder to bring glory to God if you don’t love Him as you should. (If you feel that you don’t love God enough, I suggest taking an inventory of the ways God has shown His love for you, starting with your own salvation. Thank Him for specific blessings every day and your love for God will grow. I have found this to be a big help in my own life.)

In order to be more effective at willingly and consciously glorifying God, I studied the different aspects of the word ‘glory’ so I would know what it is and how it is to be given. Since I am not very good at it, I did this study primarily to help me become better at glorifying God, but I’m sure all believers can benefit from a study on this very important subject.

What Is Glory

In order to understand how to bring glory to God, we must first understand what glory is. I will start with the more general meanings of glory because the glory we are to give to God includes aspects of each of these different meanings.

In the Bible, the word ‘glory’ has several different meanings. It can mean light, beauty, majesty or awesomeness, honorableness, and reveling or boasting, or a combination of these meanings.

Light

In 1 Corinthians 15:40, glory describes the light of the stars and planets. When you look up into the night sky, you can see hundreds of stars, and the glory of each is different. Some are bright, others are dim, some are reddish, or bluish. The planets also are glorious. Venus is the brightest ‘star’ in the morning or evening sky. But most often, when glory is used to describe light, it describes the visible light of the glory of God, which is sometimes called the ‘Shekinah’ glory.

In the first chapter of his book, Ezekiel writes of a vision he had while he was at the river Chebar. He saw God above His throne surrounded by light. In verse 28, he writes:

As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Jehovah. And when I saw, I fell on my face, …

– Ezekiel 1:28 (JND)

You may recognize this type of glory in some religious art. It is depicted as a halo around someone’s head.

When Moses was on Mt. Sinai, he asked to see the glory of God ( Exodus 33:16) and God revealed His goodness to him. Later, when Moses came down with the two tablets of stone that contained the law, his face literally glowed (34:29-35). Everyone was afraid to come near him so he had to wear a veil over his face. This is the same type of glory but on a much smaller scale.

After the tabernacle was completed, the glory of God filled the tabernacle to the point where even Moses could not enter it (Exodus 40:34-35).

Notice the effect that the glory of God had on people. Ezekiel fell on his face. Moses couldn’t approach the tabernacle. The Hebrews were afraid of even the shadow of glory remaining on Moses’ face. Jesus’ disciples fell on their face (Matthew 17:1-6). Paul fell to the ground (Acts 9:3-4). The glory of God is so powerful, the Bible says in the future there will be no need for the sun or moon, God’s glory will literally provide the light of heaven:

And the city has no need of the sun nor of the moon, that they should shine for it; for the glory of God has enlightened it, and it’s lamp is the Lamb. And the nations will walk by its light; and the kings of the earth bring their glory to it.

– Revelation 21:23

Beauty

Second, glory can mean beauty or attractiveness. Some Bibles will translate the word glory as beauty in a given passage. For example, the land of Israel is called the land of beauty or the beautiful land in some translations, but in others, the land of glory (Daniel 11:16,41 – compare KJV, Amp with NASB, NIV). The word used for glory here, tsebee in hebrew, also means ‘gazelle’, an animal admired for its beauty.

In Isaiah 28, glory (heb. tsebee) and beauty (heb. tifehreth) are equated:

In that day will Jehovah of hosts be for a crown of glory , and for a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of his people;

– Isaiah 28:5

A crown is the same as or very similar to a diadem. Both are headbands worn by royalty. So “crown of glory” and “diadem of beauty” have the same meaning.

Glory is used to describe the beauty of the king’s daughter in Psalm 45:13. It says

All glorious is the king’s daughter within; her clothing is of interwoven gold:

– Psalm 45:13

This is a prophetic psalm. It refers to the end times when the church, the “king’s daughter,” will be glorified as the bride of Christ (Revelation 19:7,8). All believers that make up the church today have been justified, are now being sanctified, and will be glorified in the future. In this verse, the beauty is so strong, it becomes majesty, which is the next meaning of glory.

Majesty

Majesty, exaltedness, or awesomeness is normally used to describe the greatness of royalty, as in the previous verse. Majesty is what many of us think of when we hear the word ‘glory’.

And I have also given you that which you have not asked, both riches and glory; so that there shall not be any among the kings like to you all your days.

– 1 Kings 3:13

And Jehovah magnified Solomon exceedingly in the sight of all Israel, and bestowed on him royal majesty such as had not been on any king before him in Israel.

– 1 Chronicles 29:25

Jehovah reigns, he has clothed himself with majesty: Jehovah has clothed himself, he has girded himself with strength; yes, the world is established, it shall not be moved.

– Psalm 93:1

Majestic glory can also describe the awesomeness of creation. In Psalm 89:9, the word used to describe the power of the waves of the sea, translated ‘pride’ or ‘raging’, is the same word translated ‘majesty’ in Psalm 93:1.

Honor

Most importantly, glory means honor or honorableness. When we honor someone, we publicly show the value that we have toward that person. The greek word for honor is doxa, from which we get the words orthodox (‘correct worship’) and doxology (‘words of praise’). Praise and worship glorify God because through them, we honor Him by publicly telling how much we value Him, expressing His worth to us.

Men desire honor for themselves and usually seek it from other men. But the Bible tells us that we are to desire honor from God above that from man. During Jesus’ ministry years on earth, some of the prominent Jews believed on him, but kept their belief a secret because they were afraid the Pharisees would put them out of the synagogue. John gives the reason in chapter 12 of his gospel:

…for they loved glory {i.e. honor} from men rather than glory from God.

– John 12:43 (JND)

God honors those who honor Him (1 Samuel 2:30, John 12:26, 1 Corinthians 4:5, 1 Peter 1:7). Jesus spoke of our seeking glory for ourselves in his sermon on the mount (Matthew 6). Do we do our good deeds to be seen by men or do we do them for God?

Reveling / Boasting

Lastly, when used as a verb, to glory means to revel (delight) in or take pride in something. Boasting is related to honor. We boast because we want others to honor and praise us. We want them to place us in high esteem; to value us highly. But as I mentioned before, we are to desire this type of glory from God rather than from man. We are to live our lives so God could boast about us like He did about Job (Job 1:8, 2:3).

What do we delight in? Our achievements? Intelligence? Wealth? Social position? These are things we usually want to take pride in. The scriptures say that we are not to glory (delight or boast) in these things.

So says Jehovah: Let not the wise glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty glory in his might; let not the rich glory in his riches: …

So, what are we to glory in? Nothing in ourselves…

…but let him that glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am Jehovah, who exercises loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I delight, …

– Jeremiah 9:23-24

And this is something we really can’t boast about… we can’t know God on our own; we can only understand and know God as He reveals Himself.

These five different meanings of the word glory: light, beauty, majesty, honor, and reveling/boasting, can be used to describe the glory of God. For example, as visible light reveals what is hidden, glory includes the declaring or revealing of qualities or attributes of God (see Ephesians 1:17-18). When Moses asked to see God’s glory, God declared to him His goodness; the honorableness of His character, specifically His mercy, graciousness, patience, goodness, truth, justice, and willingness to forgive ( Exodus 34:5-7). Whenever God reveals His glory, man understands more about the nature of God and his relationship with God, and this should cause man to honor God more – to value Him more highly.

God is glorified through general and special revelation. General revelation is what we can learn about God from what He has created: the earth and the heavens. Paul says that this type of revelation is available to all men. Anyone can look at creation and see God’s power and divine nature.

…because what is known of God is manifest among them, for God has manifested it to them, –for from the world’s creation the invisible things of him are perceived, being understood by the mind through the things that are made, both his eternal power and divinity, –so as to render them inexcusable.

– Romans 1:19-20 (JND)

And one called to the other and said, Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!

– Isaiah 6:3 (JND)

His glory covers the heavens, And the earth is full of his praise.

– Habakkuk 3:3

God also glorifies Himself through special revelation, which is when He reveals Himself directly. Let’s take a look at how God revealed Himself when the Hebrews crossed the Red Sea.

Earlier, God had sent many plagues on Eygpt, hardening Pharaoh’s heart after each one for the purpose of glorifying Himself (Exodus 4:21, 9:16, 10:1, Romans 9:17). After the Passover event, Pharaoh finally let the Israelites go. Everything was going well. Or was it?

Abraham knew God personally; Isaac and Jacob also. But 430 years later, the Israelites did not. God had not revealed Himself to them. When God met Moses at the burning bush, Moses had to ask God who He was so he could tell his people when he returned (3:13-14).

Even after God sent the plagues, the Israelites still did not know God. They saw His power against Eygpt. They saw the pillar of fire and cloud of smoke. But the people did not know Him yet: they did not trust Him. They considered Moses as their leader (14:11).

God had a plan though. He would harden Pharaoh’s heart once more so that He would be glorified. God would use Pharaoh and his army to make Himself known (Ezekiel 20:9) to the Eygptians, the Israelites, and even the Caananites as we’ll see later.

God told Moses to lead the people to a point on the edge of the Red Sea where they would not have any apparent way of escape (Exodus 14:1-3). Then He told Moses what He was going to do:

I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that he may pursue after them; and I will glorify myself {i.e. make my character known} in Pharaoh, and in all his host; and the Egyptians will know that I am Jehovah. …

– Exodus 14:4,17-18

Moses was “in” on God’s plan, but the rest of the Israelites didn’t know anything about it. All they knew was that the Egyptians were coming after them and they saw no way of escape. Fear of the Eygptians took them and they panicked:

And they said to Moses, Is it because there were no graves in Egypt, [that] you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? why have you done this to us, that you have led us out of Egypt? Is not this what we told you in Egypt, when we said, Let us alone, and we will serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness. And Moses said to the people, Fear not: stand still, and see the salvation of Jehovah, which he will work for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will see them again no more for ever. Jehovah will fight for you, and you will be still {i.e. you will be at peace; no panic}.

– Exodus 14:11-14

We all know what happened next. God rescued His people by parting the Red Sea. After they had all crossed over, God destroyed the Egyptian army who had followed by restoring the sea to normal.

So Jehovah saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the sea-shore. And Israel saw the great power with which Jehovah had worked against the Egyptians; and the people feared Jehovah, and believed in Jehovah, and in Moses his bondman.

– Exodus 14:30-31

Suddenly, Israel’s eyes were opened and they lost their fear of Eygpt. They saw God’s glory, and they feared God instead, however it wasn’t the same kind of fear – it was the fear of respect. They also finally believed and trusted in God. God had revealed Himself to Israel in a way that they would remember to this day.

(It is interesting to note that God tolerated Israel’s unbelieving attitude in this and the preceeding chapters because they did not know Him. As they came to know God, the same attitude would put them in danger of experiencing His wrath.)

This chapter illustrates a technique that God uses to glorify Himself. He sometimes puts us in impossible situations for the purpose of making Himself known and increasing our confidence in Him.

Now that we know what glory is and how God brings glory to Himself, it is time to ask what it means for us to bring glory to God.

What Does It Mean To Glorify God?

To glorify God is to be used to declare, reveal or acknowledge God’s character, qualities or attributes (such as love, faithfulness, righteousness, sovereignty, etc.) to others so that God is honored. (I say “used” because we are incapable of doing this in ourselves. We cannot show perfection through our imperfection. When we glorify God, it is God glorifying Himself through us.)

Each of the different meanings of the word glory that I listed earlier can illustrate this.

Light: Light reveals what was hidden. To glorify God is to reveal God so others can know Him. The opposite is to hide God’s glory; to keep it in the dark. Jesus called us the light of the world. Let’s not hide it under a basket or shine it at ourselves. We need to shine it at Jesus.

Beauty: To glorify God is to make Him beautiful, desirable, attractive in the eyes of man. We are, as much as possible, to “make God look good.”

Majesty: To glorify God is to show others that we recognize God as our Lord and King. It is to make man aware of His awesome power and majesty so they will also fear Him.

Honor: To glorify God is to show how much we value Him – that we value Him above everything else. Worship is the expression and praise is the outward verbal expression of the value (worth) that we have towards God. We are also to declare the honorableness of God; showing what His character is like by modeling it for others.

Reveling: To glory in God is to delight in Him as the source of our wisdom, strength, wealth, and happiness. It is also to show that we value our relationship with God above everything else. See Psalm 105:3.

We are to magnify the name of God. What does this mean? It means to make God’s name great so other people will also fear (respect) Him. We are not to drag His name down to common usage, but we are to promote the name of God before all people so they will not only respect it, but so the mere mentioning of God’s name might evoke praise from men.

The Psalms are full of examples of what it means to glorify God. Psalm 96 says:

Sing to Jehovah a new song: sing to Jehovah, all the earth. Sing to Jehovah, bless his name {i.e. make His name delightful}; publish his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his wondrous works among all the peoples. For Jehovah is great and exceedingly to be praised; he is terrible {i.e. to be feared} above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols {i.e. made by man}; but Jehovah made the heavens. Majesty and splendour are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. Give to Jehovah, you families of peoples, give to Jehovah glory and strength; Give to Jehovah the glory of his name; …

– Psalm 96:1-13

Perhaps the best example of what it means to glorify God is found in Psalm 145. In this psalm, the writer describes what glory is, why it is to be given to God, and how we are to give it. First he describes what glory is and how it is to be given:

I will exalt you, my God, O King, and I will bless your name for ever and ever. Every day will I bless you, and I will praise your name for ever and ever. Great is Jehovah, and exceedingly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable {i.e. limitless, incomprehensible}. One generation will praise your works to another, and will declare your mighty acts. I will speak of the glorious splendour of your majesty, and of your wondrous works. And they will tell of the might of your awesome acts; and your great deeds will I declare.

The psalmist goes on to describe the character of God, primarily His goodness to those who love Him…

… They will abundantly pour out the memory of your great goodness, and will loudly sing of your righteousness. Jehovah is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great loving-kindness. Jehovah is good to all; and his tender mercies are over all his works.

Notice how God is described. His character is described in such a way as to make Him desirable to men. In verse 14, the writer continues…

Jehovah upholds all that fall, and raises up all that are bowed down. The eyes of all wait on you; and you give them their food in its season. You open your hand, and satisfy the desire of every living thing. Jehovah is righteous in all his ways, and kind in all his works. Jehovah is near to all that call on him, to all that call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of them that fear him; he hears their cry, and saves them. Jehovah keeps all that love him, and all the wicked will he destroy. My mouth will speak the praise of Jehovah; and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever.

– Psalm 145:1-21

Why Should We Glorify God?

God is worthy of glory. Psalm 145 above shows some of the reasons why, and there are plenty of other reasons found in scripture. Not only is God worthy of glory, but we are the ones who are to give it to Him… each one of us. This is the primary reason we exist:

You are worthy, O our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for you have created all things, and for your will they were, and they have been created.

– Revelation 4:11

For of him, and through him, and for him are all things: to him be glory for ever. Amen.

– Romans 11:36 (JND)

… all things have been created by him and for him.

– Colossians 1:16 (JND)

When God created the heavens and the earth, He spoke it into existance, but man He personally formed in His own image. This gave man a unique capacity to glorify God. Someone could look at man before the fall and understand something of God’s character. Not only was man physically ‘good’, he was also morally good, reflecting God’s righteousness. As an artist expresses himself in a great masterpiece, so God expressed Himself in man.

However, man’s fall into sin marred the image of God in man. He no longer had the unique capacity to glorify God. Man’s imperfection could no longer show God’s perfection. Man’s sinfulness couldn’t show God’s holiness. A very familiar verse shows this in a way you may not have noticed before.

For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

– Romans 3:23

We normally understand this verse to mean that we have all fallen short of God’s standard of righteousness. But why was the word “glory” used here? Because it also means that we now lack the capacity to fulfill the purpose for which we were created. We have lost the capacity to glorify God and now all of our works are evil. Isaiah 64:4 compares our righteous acts to filthy rags. Even the generous act of a rich man giving away millions of dollars to those in need is a “filthy-rag” act. This sounds offensive to us. Why is this deed bad? Because it is not done for God’s glory. it’s source, means, and end were not in God.

The only way we can fulfill our purpose is if we are re-created in the image of God. This is something that we can’t do, anymore than we could have had a part in our own original creation. But this is no problem for God. He sent His only Son to die for this purpose. Just as in the beginning, God choose to create man in His image, so He also choose to re-create men in the image of Jesus Christ.

Because whom he has foreknown, he has also predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he should be the firstborn among many brothers.

– Romans 8:29

So if any one be in Christ, there is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold all things have become new:

– 2 Corinthians 5:17 (JND)

Once we trust in Jesus Christ for our salvation, we are a new creation. We are not just reconditioned. God doesn’t somehow revive the good that is already in us, because it wasn’t there to begin with. The good that we do once we are saved has its source in God and is for the purpose of glorifying Him.

For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has before prepared that we should walk in them.

– Ephesians 2:10 (JND)

…and having put on the new, renewed into full knowledge according to the image of him that has created him; …

– Colossians 3:10 (JND)

…and your having put on the new man, which according to God is created in truthful righteousness and holiness.

– Ephesians 4:24 (JND)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ; according as he has chosen us in him before the world’s foundation, that we should be holy and blameless before him in love; having marked us out beforehand for adoption through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, … that we should be to the praise of his glory who have pre-trusted in the Christ: in whom you also have trusted, having heard the word of the truth, the glad tidings of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the earnest of our inheritance to the redemption of the acquired possession to the praise of his glory.

– Ephesians 1:3-14 (JND)

We have seen how God through His sovereignty brings glory to Himself through saint and sinner alike. If God can do this (and He does), why should we make an effort to do so since He is going to glorify Himself anyway?

For one thing, we are commanded to. This is why God chose us.

… for you have been bought with a price: glorify now then God in your body.

– 1 Corinthians 6:20

God redeemed us from sin. We are not our own but God’s. We are now to live to please Him. This is our purpose not only as individuals, but also as a body of believers in the church:

But to him that is able to do far exceedingly above all which we ask or think, according to the power which works in us, to him be glory in the assembly {i.e. the church gathering} in Christ Jesus to all generations of the age of ages. Amen.

– Ephesians 3:20-21 (JND)

But you are a chosen race, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a people for a possession, that you might set forth the excellencies of him who has called you out of darkness to his wonderful light;

– 1 Peter 2:9

In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus told a parable about three servants who were given some of their master’s money to look after while he was gone. Two of the servants sought to increase what was given them while the third buried his part in the ground. When the master came back, the servants that had increased what was given them were commended, while the third was condemned. As the servants were not to seek to gain their own wealth (glory) but their master’s, we are to seek to increase God’s glory, not our own.

It is good and proper for the righteous to glorify God.

Rejoice, you righteous, in Jehovah: praise is becoming {i.e. beautiful, appropriate, expected} for the upright.

– Psalm 33:1

But we shouldn’t bring glory to God merely from a sense of duty. We should want to bring glory to God because of our love for Him. Indeed, it is our love for Him that makes our effort to glorify God much more effective. Love is the motivation. It is hard for me to make God attractive to others if I don’t love Him. How am I to reveal His love to others if I don’t love Him myself? But if I do know and love Him, if I appreciate what He’s done for me, then I will want to tell others about Him. I will want others to know and love Him in the same way. I will want others to bring glory to Him also. And this is another reason for us to glorify God: so that others also will glorify Him.

… having your conversation {i.e. way of life} honest among the Gentiles, that as to that in which they speak against you as evildoers, they may through your good works, themselves witnessing them, glorify God in the day of visitation.

– 1 Peter 2:12 (JND)

The process of sanctification is the process of becoming more godly, becoming more like Jesus. We are to become models of God’s character so others can see what God is like.

Glory to a father is sometimes based on the actions of his children. What a child does reflects on his parents. Sometimes when a child does wrong publicly, people question the child’s upbringing and the father feels embarrassed. When a child does right publicly, the father is praised for his job as a parent. This is similar to our relationship with others and with our heavenly Father. As God’s children, we should imitate our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:44-48, Luke 6:36, John 8:38-50) so that He is praised.

How Do We Steal Glory From God?

There are many ways that we steal God’s glory, and all of them are classified as sin (Romans 3:23). We glorify the creature rather than the Creator. This can be glory to ourselves (in pride or the “holier-than-thou” attitude), other men, false gods, angels, demons, or even the earth. We also ignore God, leaving Him out of our conversion, not telling others about Him (either through words, including lack of public praise of Him, or by our actions, not modeling Him for others). Or we give God only some of the glory but not all that is due Him. Our words and actions can cause God’s name to be profaned by the world or even ourselves. When we steal glory from God, we are not honoring Him as we should.

Pride

Pride is the primary way that we steal God’s glory. Satan’s fall was due to pride and jealously.

How are you fallen from heaven, Lucifer, son of the morning! You are cut down to the ground, [you] that did weaken the nations! And you that did say in your heart, I will ascend into the heavens, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly, in the recesses of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High:

– Isaiah 14:12-14

Satan’s number-one goal is not so much as to try to get us to sin, but through our sin, to steal as much glory from God as he can.

Satan’s pride was his downfall. And our pride can be also (Proverbs 16:18). Pride causes man to glorify himself – to his own ruin. King Nebuchadnezzar’s pride led to his fall – his loss of sanity.

the king spoke and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty? While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from the heavens: King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom is departed from you;

– Daniel 4:30-31 (JND)

By God’s grace, Nebuchadnezzar’s fall was only temporary, lasting seven years. He learned his lesson.

Others, like Herod Agrippa, were judged quite harshly for their pride. Herod was a professing Israelite and therefore a monotheist. After giving a speech, his listeners called him a god, but he didn’t rebuke them as he should have, and God killed him.

And on a set day, clothed in royal apparel and sitting on the elevated seat of honour, Herod made a public oration to them. And the people cried out, A God’s voice and not a man’s. And immediately an angel of the Lord smote him, because he did not give the glory to God, and he expired, eaten of worms.

– Acts 12:21-23 (JND)

Pride is a dangerous and subtle thing. It comes about in many forms. You can glorify yourself under the pretense of helping others. For example, the purpose of signs is to bring glory to God, not to self. But some, even today, want to perform great works, signs and wonders to make their own name great. This is nothing new. In Acts, we read of a proud man who became a believer, but still had a pride problem…

But a certain man, by name Simon, had been before in the city, using magic arts, and astonishing the nation of Samaria, saying that [he] himself was some great one. To whom they had all given heed, from small to great, saying, This is the power of God which is called great. … But when they believed Philip announcing the glad tidings concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, … Simon also himself believed; and, having been baptised, continued constantly with Philip; and, seeing the signs and great works of power which took place, was astonished. … But Simon, having seen that by the laying on of the hands of the apostles the Holy Spirit was given, offered them money, saying, Give to me also this power, in order that on who ever I may lay hands he may receive the Holy Spirit. And Peter said to him, Your money go with you to destruction, because you have thought that the gift of God can be obtained by money. You have neither part nor lot in this matter, because your heart is not upright before God. Therefore, repent of this, your wickedness, and ask the Lord, if indeed the thought of your heart may be forgiven you; …

– Acts 8:9-24

Contrast this with the results of the works that Jesus performed:

… But the crowds seeing it, were in fear, and glorified God who gave such power to men.

– Matthew 9:8 (JND)

… so that the crowds wondered, seeing dumb speaking, crippled sound, lame walking, and blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.

– Matthew 15:31 (JND)

… And he rose up straightway, and, having taken up his couch, went out before them all, so that all were amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it so.

– Mark 2:12

… And astonishment seized all, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things today.

– Luke 5:26

… And fear seized on all, and they glorified God, saying, A great prophet has been raised up among us; and God has visited his people.

– Luke 7:16

… And he laid his hands on her; and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.

– Luke 13:13

… And one of them, seeing that he was cured, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice,

– Luke 17:15 (JND)

… Now the centurion, seeing what took place, glorified God, saying, In very deed this man was just.

– Luke 23:47 (JND)

Idol worship

Worship of anyone or anything other than God steals glory from Him. An idol is any object that causes us to steal glory from God. It either hides God’s character or distorts it.

King Nebuchadnezzar eventually recognized God as the Most High and the King of the heavens, but his son did not. King Belshazzar had a party one day with his nobles, wives and concubines, and while drinking from the vessels from the temple, vessels that were dedicated to the worship of the one true God of Israel, they praised the gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone. A hand appeared suddenly and wrote something on the wall. The king, in fear, called for Daniel to interpret the words, and Daniel told the king that God was about to take away his kingdom. He gave God’s reason in Daniel 5:22-23:

… And you, Belshazzar, his son, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this; but have lifted up yourself against the Lord of the heavens; and they have brought the vessels of his house before you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine in them; and you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know; and the God in whose hand your breath is, and whose are all your ways, you have not glorified:

– Daniel 5:22-23

King Belshazzar was guilty of hiding God’s glory, praising worthless, powerless things that man created and ignoring God who held his life in His hand.

This is an example of what we normally think of when we think of idol worship. But the Bible also describes idol worship as a way of distorting God’s character. It happens when those who know God worship Him not as He is, but as they want Him to be, reducing Him to something they can understand, something they can control. Paul talks about this in his letter to the Romans:

Because, knowing God, they glorified him not as God {i.e. not as God actually is}, neither were thankful; but fell into folly in their thoughts, and their heart without understanding was darkened: professing themselves to be wise, they become fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of an image of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and reptiles.

– Romans 1:21-23 (JND)

This is idol worship in the name of God. As he wrote, Paul probably had the episode in Exodus chapter 32 in mind. Moses had climbed Mt. Sinai to receive the law. The Israelites, seeing that Moses was delayed, decided they needed something tangible to look up to. After all, they never saw God themselves. They didn’t know what He looked like. So they told Aaron…

make us a god, who will go before us; for this Moses, the man that has brought us up out of the land of Egypt, –we do not know what is become of him! And Aaron said to them, Break off the golden rings that are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them to me. Then all the people broke off the golden rings that were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. And he took them out of their hand, and fashioned it with a chisel and made of it a molten calf: and they said, This is your god, Israel, who has brought you up out of the land of Egypt! And Aaron saw it, and built an altar before it; and Aaron made a proclamation, and said, Tomorrow is a feast to Jehovah! And they rose up early in the morning, and offered up burnt-offerings, and brought peace-offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to sport. Then Jehovah said to Moses, Away, go down! for your people, which you have brought out of the land of Egypt, is acting corruptly.

– Exodus 32:1-7 (JND)

Israel made a golden calf, not to represent some other god, but to represent Jehovah. Israel knew God. They saw His power and glory when He brought them out of the land of Eygpt, but they didn’t glorify Him as He is. They made the golden calf to represent Jehovah, and Aaron made an altar before it and proclaimed a feast to Jehovah. The glory of the incorruptible God was changed into the image of a corruptible animal.

The problem is that no picture we can paint nor image we can make can really portray God’s glory. That is why God forbade the making of images of man or beast even as representing Himself. If we make an image of what we think God looks like, we base it on our own imperfect ideas of what He is like.

Being therefore the offspring of God, we ought not to think that which is divine to be like gold or silver or stone, the graven form of man’s art and imagination.

– Acts 17:29 (JND)

We were made in the image of God. We are not to make God in our image (or after our imaginations). We are not to go beyond what God has revealed Himself to be.

Hypocrisy

Perhaps we don’t have a problem with pride or idol worship, but there is a problem that most Christians struggle with and that is hypocrisy. We say we should obey the law, but then we drive 65-70mph down the highway. We agree that we should love our neighbor as ourselves, but when we see the same homeless person almost every day, we look the other way. I’m a hypocrite, and chances are, so are you.

The problem with calling yourself a Christian is that the world starts paying attention to how you act. And not only is your reputation at stake, but so is the reputation of Jesus Christ who you represent.

Over the centuries, much evil has been done in the name of Jesus: the slaughtering of Muslims and Jews during the crusades and the attempted extermination of Jews during the Inquisition and the Holocaust. it’s no wonder that many Jews don’t want anything to do with Christ or Christianity; they’ve seen ‘Christian love’ in action. It can be argued that those who committed these atrocities were not true believers, but do you think that if most true believers really acted like followers of Jesus, showing the world what He is really like by imitating Him ( 1 Corinthians 11:1, Ephesians 5:1, John 13:35), do you think the world would better be able to tell the difference between a true Christian and a false? Do you think the world would have a better impression of Jesus Christ?

In the Old Testament, God chose Israel to be a “peculiar” people (Exodus 19:5-6). They were to act different from the rest of the world. God commanded that they be holy because He is holy.

For I am Jehovah your God; and you shall hallow {separate} yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy.

– Leviticus 11:44

As God’s people, they represented Him to the nations around them. The other nations’ view of God was based on the actions of God and His people. During their wandering in the wilderness, God’s glory was heard of in the land of Caanan. Rahab hid the spies in Jericho because she heard of God’s glory.

… and [she] said to the men, I know that Jehovah has given you the land, and that the dread of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard that Jehovah dried up the waters of the Red sea before you when you came out of Egypt; and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites that were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and to Og, whom you completely destroyed. We heard of it, and our heart melted, and there remained no more spirit in any man because of you; for Jehovah your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.

– Joshua 2:9-11 (JND)

In fear of their lives, the Gibeonites made a treaty with Israel because they also heard of the glory of God.

…And they answered Joshua and said, Because it was certainly told your servants how that Jehovah your God commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you; and we feared greatly for our lives because of you, and did this thing.

– Joshua 9:24

David was a man after God’s own heart. But his being in a prominent position made him very susceptible to dishonoring God’s name among the nations. David’s lust for Bathsheba got him into trouble, and when Bathsheba became pregnant, David ordered her husband, Uriah, killed as part of his plan to cover up what he had done. When the prophet Nathan confronted David with his sin, David confessed:

…I have sinned against Jehovah. And Nathan said to David, Jehovah has also put away your sin: you will not die. However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of Jehovah to blaspheme, even the child that is born to you will certainly die.

– 2 Samuel 12:13-14

David’s sin was forgiven, but the effect that the sin would have on God’s reputation among the nations had to be dealt with. God is a jealous God and He will protect His name (reputation).

Later, God’s name was profaned among the nations because of the actions of Israel. God had scattered the nation of Israel because of their faithlessness, but they were still recognized as the people of God, so whereever they went, their actions brought dishonor to God’s name.

And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Son of man, when the house of Israel lived in their own land, they defiled it by their way and by their doings: … And I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed through the countries: … And when they came to the nations wherever they went, they profaned my holy name, when it was said of them, These are the people of Jehovah, and they are gone forth out of his land. But I had pity for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations wherever they went. Therefore say to the house of Israel, So says the Lord Jehovah: I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. And I will hallow my great name, … and the nations will know that I am Jehovah, says the Lord Jehovah, when I will be hallowed in you before their eyes.

– Ezekiel 36:16-23

God acted again for the glory of His name (see also Isaiah 48:9-11, Ezekiel 20:8-9,14,22). Perhaps the reason why we don’t see God judging the pagan nations as much in the Old Testament (or even today) is that they don’t represent God as His people do. Those who are called by His name have a much greater responsibility to bring honor to Him.

Lying

Not telling the truth or withholding the truth is another way to steal God’s glory. A solemn command to tell the truth in both the Old and New Testaments is “give glory to God.”

And Joshua said to Achan, My son, give, I ask you, glory to Jehovah the God of Israel, and make confession to him: tell me now what you have done, keep it not back from me.

– Joshua 7:19

They called therefore a second time the man who had been blind, and said to him, Give glory to God: we know that this man is sinful.

– John 9:24 (JND)

Knowing that God knows the truth, we insult Him when we lie to others. It is also insulting when we lie because we are supposed to represent Him who does not lie.

Because we were made in the image of God, designed to reflect what God is like in a special way, when we sin, we are, in effect, causing God to sin in effigy. This is why God cannot look on sin. It dishonors Him.

How Should We Glorify God?

Now that we know what doesn’t glorify God, it’s time to move on to the heart of this study – the practical side of what does.

There are many ways to bring glory to God. One of the simplest ways is to praise Him.

Whoever offers praise glorifies me; …

– Psalm 50:23 (AKJV)

When we sing songs of praise in church, we acknowledge His divine attributes, character, majesty, righteousness, and love, and we thank Him for who He is, but praise should not be limited to just on Sundays or during church services. To give glory is a public thing. We are not to bring glory to God “in a closet.” By definition, it is to make God known to others so that He is honored. We should be looking for ways to make God’s divine attributes, character, majesty, righteousness, and love known to those around us.

In Hebrews 13:15, we are told to offer the “sacrifice of praise” to God. What makes praise a sacrifice? It is a selfless act. We give it completely to God, not to benefit from it ourselves.

Before going any further, it is important to remember that when we give glory to God, it is God doing the glorifying through us. We cannot reveal God’s nature to others on our own because our nature is not comparable to His. God works through us to bring glory to Himself.

…to which purpose we also pray always for you, that our God may … fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you and you in him, according to the grace of our God, and of the Lord Jesus Christ.

– 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

Remain in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He that remains in me and I in him, he bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing.

– John 15:4-5

…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both the willing and the working according to his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and reasonings, that you may be harmless and simple, irreproachable children of God in the midst of a crooked and perverted generation; among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life, …

– Philippians 2:12-16 (ACV)

So, whenever we try to bring glory to God, we must recognize our part as being channels of glory, not sources of glory.

If any one speak–as oracles {spoken words} of God ; if any one minister {serve}– as of strength which God supplies; that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom is the glory and the might for the ages of ages. Amen.

– 1 Peter 4:11 (JND)

Just as there are many way to steal glory from God, there are also many way to give it:

Our Direct Witness

Every believer should bring glory to God by direct witness to Jesus Christ’s Lordship. By proclaiming that Jesus is Lord, we direct attention to Him and not ourselves. We show the relationship between Him and us and between Him and His creation. In the future, everyone will acknowledge that Jesus is Lord. It is better to tell them now then let them find out when it’s too late:

…and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to God the Father’s glory.

– Philippians 2:11 (JND)

The apostles healed and cast out demons in the name of Jesus. They made it clear that the power and authority to do such things was not theirs but Jesus Christ’s. And this also provided opportunities to glorify God by declaring the gospel:

But Peter said, Silver and gold I have not; but what I have, this give I to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazaraean rise up and walk.

– Acts 3:6

… and having placed them in the middle they inquired, In what power or in what name have you done this? Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, Rulers of the people and elders of Israel, if we this day are called on to answer as to the good deed done to the infirm man, how he has been healed, be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazaraean, whom you have crucified, whom God has raised from among the dead, by him this man stands here before you sound in body.

– Acts 4:7-10

And everything, whatever you may do in word or in deed, do all things in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father by him.

– Colossians 3:17

Thanking God

When we go to a restaurant and thank God for our meal, we do it to glorify God, not to show others how ‘religious’ we are. We acknowledge to God and whoever may see us that it is God who provides for us. Paul says that we are to give thanks at all times:

giving thanks at all times for all things to him who is God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

– Ephesians 5:20 (JND)

“All times” includes when you are at home, in church, at work, at school, on vacation, sick in the hospital, or even in prison ( Acts 16:23-25). “All times” means through good times, bad times, exciting times, boring times, and ordinary times. We are to thank God wherever we are and in any circumstance we find ourselves. Some professional Christian athletes publicly thank God immediately after a win, in front of thousands of people, showing the world that they give God the credit for their victory. We are to live so others will give glory to God through thanks. Paul lived this way:

For all things are for your sakes, that the grace abounding through the many may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.

– 2 Corinthians 4:15 (JND)

… and they glorified God in {i.e. through or because of} me.

– Galatians 1:24 (KJV)

A Humble Attitude

To bring the most glory to God, we mustn’t detract attention from Him by bringing glory to ourselves. Follow the example of Jesus in the gospels. Everything He did was to bring glory to the Father.

But I do not seek my own glory: there is he that seeks and judges.

– John 8:50 (JND)

So the Christ also has not glorified himself to be made a high priest; …

– Hebrews 5:5

James tells us to humble ourselves before God (James 4:10). (God will glorify us in His own time, and much better than we could ourselves – Luke 14:8-11, Proverbs 29:23.) Instead, we are to delight in what God has done rather than what we have done. Paul wrote:

But far be it from me to boast {i.e. glory} save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, …

– Galatians 6:14 (JND)

Fulfilling the Great Commission by telling others the good news about what God has done for us glorifies God, for this is the heart of the gospel message: what we were powerless to do, God has done for us by sending His Son to die for us. This is very humbling and even offensive to our sinful nature. Therefore, we need to keep in mind when witnessing that the only difference between those of us who are saved and those who are lost is the grace of God. We shouldn’t offend in how we present the gospel – the gospel is offensive enough in itself.

Paul and James also tell us that we should glory in our weaknesses and low position, rather than in our strength or high position. Paul had every reason to be proud, but he counted all his effort to glorify himself as loss for the cause of Christ:

Though I have my trust even in flesh; if any other think to trust in flesh, I rather {more so}: as to circumcision, I received it the eighth day; of the race of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, persecuting the assembly; as to righteousness which is in the law, found blameless; but what things were gain to me these I counted, on account of Christ, loss. But surely I count also all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom I have suffered the loss of all, and count them to be filth, that I may gain Christ;

– Philippians 3:4-8

Early in his ministry, something happened to Paul that could have brought glory to himself. Paul describes what happened to him as if it happened to someone else so that others would not think of him more highly than they should:

Well, it is not of profit to me to boast, for I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ, fourteen years ago, (whether in the body I know not, or out of the body I know not, God knows;) such a one caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man, (whether in the body or out of the body I know not, God knows;) that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable things said which it is not allowed to man to utter. Of such a one I will boast, but of myself I will not boast, unless in my weaknesses.

Paul goes on to say that, though he desires to boast about what happened, he restrains himself:

… For if I shall desire to boast, I shall not be a fool; for I will say {i.e. I desire to say} the truth; but I forbear, lest any one should think as to me above what he sees me to be, or whatever he may hear of me. …

For this reason, Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was given, so that he might stay humble:

… And that I might not be exalted by the exceeding greatness of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn for the flesh, a messenger of Satan that he might buffet me, that I might not be exalted. For this I thrice begged the Lord that it might depart from me. And he said to me, My grace suffices you; for my power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather boast in my weaknesses, that the power of the Christ may dwell on me. Therefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in insults, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ: for when I am weak, then I am powerful.

– 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 (JND)

Bearing Spiritual Fruit

Our sanctification consists of becoming spiritually mature so that we bear spiritual fruit. Galatians 5:22-23 describes this fruit as love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and self-control. These are expressions of Christ’s character in us, so that we become models (Romans 13:14, Colossians 3:10) to others of what God is like.

In this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and you shall become disciples {followers} of mine.

– John 15:8

We need to mature so all spiritual fruit is evident in our lives, not just some:

being complete as regards the fruit of righteousness, which is by Jesus Christ, to God’s glory and praise.

– Philippians 1:11 (JND)

Jesus, the Light of the world (John 1:1-9, 8:12), also called us the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). As the Light, Jesus revealed God’s character to man (John 14:7-10, Colossians 1:15, Hebrews 1:3), and His life on earth should be an example to us as to how we are to let our light shine so God’s character can be revealed through us. Our light is to shine before men so that, as they see our good works, they will glorify God:

… having your conversation {i.e. way of living} honest among the Gentiles, that … they may through your good works, themselves witnessing them, glorify God in the day of visitation.

– 1 Peter 2:12

You are the light of the world: a city situated on the top of a mountain cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under the bushel, but upon the lamp-stand, and it shines for all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, so that they may see your upright works, and glorify your Father who is in the heavens.

– Matthew 5:14-16

In the next chapter of Matthew, Jesus warns against doing good works for the purpose of being seen by men. Our motive for good works must be to glorify God; being seen is just a means to that end. Only those works done for Jesus Christ will last (1 Corinthians 3:11-15). They are the treasure that we are to lay up for ourselves in heaven. Nothing else will survive.

Titus was told to instruct the believers how to live their lives in such a way as to bring glory to God. He was to be an example also. All believers are to live this way, regardless of circumstance:

But speak the things that become sound teaching; that the elder men be sober, grave, discreet, sound in faith, in love, in patience; that the elder women in like manner be in reverent behavior … that the word of God may not be evilly spoken of. The younger men in like manner exhort to be discreet: in all things showing yourself as a pattern of good works; … that he who is opposed may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say about us: bondmen to be subject to their own masters, to make themselves acceptable in everything; not gainsaying {i.e. speaking against}; not robbing their masters, but showing all good loyalty, that they may adorn the teaching which is of our Saviour God in all things.

– Titus 2:1-10

In everything we do, we are to live so as not to hurt our witness by setting up a stumbling block for others. We are to make every effort to live at peace with all men so that the spread of the gospel will not be hindered:

Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all things to God’s glory. Give no occasion to stumbling, whether to Jews, or Greeks, or the assembly {church} of God. Even as I also please all in all things; not seeking my own profit, but that of the many, that they may be saved.

– 1 Corinthians 10:31-33

When others become saved through the witness of your life, glory is then multiplied to God.

Church Unity

God is also glorified through the unity of the church body. Divisions in the church do not reflect God’s love and unity.

Now the God of endurance and of encouragement give to you to be like-minded one to another, according to Christ Jesus; that you may with one accord, with one mouth, glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore receive one another, according as the Christ also has received you to the glory of God.

– Romans 15:5-7

Paul said it is better to allow ourselves to be wronged than to seek revenge with other believers.

But brother prosecutes his suit with brother, and that before unbelievers. Already indeed then it is altogether a fault in you that you have suits between yourselves. Rather, why don’t you suffer wrong? why aren’t you rather defrauded?

– 1 Corinthians 6:6-7 (JND)

Enduring Suffering

Sometimes, direct witness results in persecution as it did for Paul and Silas in Acts 16, but we shouldn’t let it get us down. After being beaten for freeing a girl from the control of demon possession, Paul and Silas were cast into prison. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, they praised God and this led to more opportunities to share the gospel. Paul considered his trials as not worthy of comparison to the future glory that would be revealed to him ( Romans 8:18)

We are to endure suffering not because we did something wrong, but because we are followers of Christ. Doing something wrong and then suffering the consequences for it does not glorify God:

If you are reproached in the name of Christ, you are blessed; for the Spirit of glory and the Spirit of God rests on you: on their part he is blasphemed, but on your part he is glorified . Let none of you indeed suffer as murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or as overseer of other people’s matters; but if as a christian, let him not be ashamed, but glorify God in this {Christ’s} name.

– 1 Peter 4:14-16

Believing slaves were instructed to obey their masters, even if their masters were cruel.

Servants, be subject with all fear {respect} to your masters, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the ill-tempered . For this is acceptable, if, for conscience sake towards God, [you] endure griefs, suffering unjustly. For what glory is it, if sinning and being buffeted you shall bear it? but if, doing good and suffering, you shall bear it, this is acceptable with God. For to this have you been called; for Christ also has suffered for you, leaving you a model that you should follow in his steps:

– 1 Peter 2:18-21 (JND)

This is an example of putting the glory of God ahead of personal rights and desires. It is better to not exercise our rights if by exercising them, we would detract from God’s glory (1 Corinthians 9:12).

Let as many bondmen as are under yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, that the name of God and the teaching be not blasphemed {i.e. evilly spoken of or dishonored}.

– 1 Timothy 6:1 (JND)

Enduring suffering for the sake of Jesus Christ eventually leads to glory for us from God (Romans 8:17)

We’ve heard the phrase: “People don’t read the Bible – they read us!”. That doesn’t mean we are to go around quoting scripture verses to everyone. If we are to be “walking Bibles,” then we must do what the Bible does – reveal God to the world, through our words and actions.

How Can I Bring Glory To God This Week?

For most people, to actively, consciously, and continually give glory to God requires a change in mindset. Today, this is sometimes called a “paradigm-shift” a fundamental change in the way of thinking about something that affects the way we think and act in other areas. We must learn to stop seeking our own glory and seek God’s.

We also need to mature spiritually so we will become better vessels of God’s glory. As our character becomes more like His, we will be better able to show it. This requires continual communion with God through prayer, purposeful studying of God’s word, and putting into practice what is learned.

As I mentioned in the introduction to this study, our desire to seek God’s glory should come from our love for Him. Love and a grateful heart is the fuel, so to speak, that keeps our desire to glorify God burning. Doing it only from a sense of duty can burn you out and can get legalistic.

Below, I have listed two areas to consider: preparation and practice. Each has some suggested actions to take.

Preparation

Preparation involves our attitude, knowledge, and will: we must earnestly desire to glorify God, know what glorifies God (and what doesn’t), and commit ourselves to glorifying God.

Take inventory of the ways God has…

… revealed His nature and character to you. What have you learned about God’s nature and character through His creation and His Word?

… blessed you. Don’t forget your family, job, daily food, clothing, a place to live, friends, etc.

… shown His love for you. God has forgiven your sins and given you His Holy Spirit. What other evidences of His love for you do you see?

The reason for listing these things is to increase your appreciation of who God is and what He has done for you. All good comes from God (1 Corinthians 4:7, James 1:17, John 3:27, Isaiah 61:10).

Pray

Thank God for His goodness to you. Thank Him for everything you have listed above.

Ask Him to show His glory to you, just as Moses asked. Ask Him to reveal His character to you.

Ask Him to show His glory to others through you.

Study God’s nature and character…

… as it was shown in the Old Testament to those who trusted in Him (Joseph, Moses, David, Elijah, Daniel, etc.). Study His character in the Law. Study His faithfulness to His covenant with Israel even when they continually sinned against Him.

… as it was shown in the life of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. How did He interact with the different people He met? How did He affect their lives? How did He converse with the common sinner? What made Him happy? What made Him sad? What made Him angry? Where were His priorities?

… as shown in the Psalms. What is He praised for? How does He help those who trust in Him?

… as written about in some of the hymns we sing.

Recommended reading:

Knowing God, J.I. Packer

Study how others glorified God…

… in the Bible. Study the lives of Daniel and his associates. How did they live their lives (proud or humble)? How did they react to those around them? Where was their priorities? What did they focus on (i.e. the surrounding paganism or obeying and glorifying God)? How did they direct attention to God? What was the effect on those around them, especially Nebuchadnezzar and Darius?

Recommended reading:

Daniel 1:1-6:28

…in modern biographies. Read the stories of missionaries who gave their lives for the spread of the gospel. See how they proclaimed the message and trusted in God. See how God supplied their needs.

Recommended reading:

Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God. (If you can find a copy of the long-out-of-print book Oswald Chambers – His Life and Work – read what his friends had to say about him.)

Evidence Not Seen, Darlene Deibler Rose (See testimony on page 111)

The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom (See Betsie’s testimony)

Daktar, Viggo Olsen, MD

Plan ahead

Plan to glorify God in specific ways, with the intention of putting your plan into action. Decide what you will do. For example, at the job, plan to do your work as if Jesus is your boss.

Practice

Question Your Motives

All aspects of Christian living is to have as its motivation the glorifying of God. Get in the habit of analyzing your motives. Whenever you are about to do something (either something new or something you do so regularly you don’t think about it anymore), ask yourself:

“Am I doing this for my glory or God’s?” (If you have not been doing it for God’s glory, look for ways that you can.)

“Am I trying to please God or myself?”

“How can I bring the most glory to God in this situation?” (Try applying the different meanings of the word glory: “How can I make God look good here?” or “How can I model God’s character?”).

“What would Jesus do?”

Recommended reading:

In His Steps, Charles Sheldon

Improving Your Serve, Charles Swindoll

These are only a few of the things you can do. I’m sure others with more wisdom and experience in this area can add more. The important thing is to determine you are going to make God’s glory the top priority in your life, and then act on it. I believe this is the most important decision you can make as a Christian, and it is the key to a fulfilled, sanctified life and strong relationship with God.

– A.R.B. (1/30/1996)

“The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that lives for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for you have created all things, and for your pleasure they are and were created.”

– Revelation 4:10-11 – (AKJV)

Scripture Study Applications

Here are just a few ways we can benefit our understanding of scripture through the principles outlined in this study.

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil

Many people wonder why God placed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden of Eden. Why would God put something evil in the garden if not to try to get man to sin?

Part of the problem is in our understanding of what evil is. The tree and its fruit were not evil. Everything that God created He called “good”, including the tree. Things are not evil, but actions or thoughts can be.

God’s reason to place the tree in the garden could not have been to try to get man to sin because the scriptures say that God does not tempt man to sin (James 1:13). What other reason for the tree could there be? If you’ve read through this study, the answer should be pretty obvious.

Everything else Adam was commanded to do in the garden of Eden would benefit himself in some way. By taking care of the garden, he could eat of its fruit. But obeying God’s command not to eat of the fruit of one particular tree in the garden had no obvious benefits for Adam.

I believe God did not place the tree in the garden to tempt man but to give man an opportunity to show honor to God by obeying Him. Because he couldn’t benefit in any way from obeying God in this one matter, the only reason Adam would have to obey would be to show honor to God.

Stewardship of the image of God

What do we think of when we hear the word ‘stewardship’? Tithing?

That’s what I thought it meant until I learned its true meaning from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Return Of The King, the final part of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. In the book, the country of Gondor had been without a true king for a thousand years, but it was ruled by stewards who were to govern Gondor until one who could rightfully claim the throne returned. When the king finally did return, the last steward did not want to give up his position but thought that he deserved to rule on the throne himself. His pride had caused him to forget where his authority came from.

A steward is a manager of someone else’s property. No matter how much time elapses, a steward must take care of the property given to him, and always be ready to return it to the owner when asked.

God owns more than our money. He owns all of our material possessions. He owns the whole world (hence the first commission God gave to man – to take care of the earth). And He owns us. We are only stewards of what God has given us. At the final judgement, we believers will not be judged on what we did for ourselves but what we did for Jesus Christ. We will have to give an accounting for what we did with what God gave us.

In Mark 12, some of the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus with a question about taxes.

And they come and say to him, Teacher, we know that you are true, and care not for anyone; for you regard not the men’s person, but teach the way of God with truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar or not? Should we give tribute or should we not give? …

– Mark 12:14,15

Jesus knew they asked the question to trap him. However, He didn’t just answer the question with a yes or no answer…

…Why do you tempt me? Bring me a denarius that I may see it. And they brought it. And he says to them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said to him, Caesar’s. And Jesus answering said to them, Pay what is Caesar’s to Caesar, and what is God’s to God. And they wondered at him.

– Mark 12:15-17 (Green)

The Pharisees’ question dealt only with rendering what was due to Caesar, but Jesus’ reply lead them to a much more important issue – our stewardship of what God has given us. Just as the coin belonged to Caesar because Caesar’s image was on it, so we belong to God because we were created in His image.

Think of yourself as a steward of God’s image. The image is not yours. What you do with your life will either tarnish God’s image or glorify it.

28 thoughts on “Giving Glory To God”

  1. Thanks mate, am using some of your material in my testimony to some women prisoners next Sunday for my testimony ie our purpose on this earth is to glorify God. Bless you heaps for spending the time to search for the truth and sharing it with others, much appreciated.

  2. I like this. It really answers to the purpose i am living. I was feeling low ddue to lifes circumstances and thought i really dont matter to God, but now i knnow better. The problem is me not God.

  3. Thank you. I was looking for material to teach to 1-3 grade Sunday school class on “glory” and came across this. I learned much for myself! Thank you for sharing your study. I really appreciated this part a LOT: “Love for God and appreciation for what he has done for us should create in us a desire to bring as much glory to Him as we possibly can. It is harder to bring glory to God if you don’t love Him as you should. (If you feel that you don’t love God enough, I suggest taking an inventory of the ways God has shown His love for you, starting with your own salvation. Thank Him for specific blessings every day and your love for God will grow. I have found this to be a big help in my own life.)”

  4. I’m glad you found it helpful! I have been working off and on (mostly off) on a book based on this… and much better written. But I don’t know if I’ll ever get around to finishing it.

  5. I wanted a better understanding of the word glory , and the meaning of giving God the glory. This site provided a great deal of information. I have been blessed tremendously today. I’ve been going through a great deal of trials, but I want to continue to give God the glory because God truly deserves the highest praise.

  6. I have bee truly blessed today by these powerful scriptures. I truly received a greater understanding for what glory really means. I’m truly great full for the information I received from this website today.

  7. So helpful! Thanks Brother! Let me know if the book ever gets finished because I would love to read it: (email address removed)

  8. I’m in the final stages of publishing another book called “Seeing Jesus – A Disciple’s Perspective.” It’s my first book and it’s giving me incentive to finish the book version of “Giving Glory to God”. My writing style has improved over the years so hopefully it will be worth the wait,

  9. Thank you for this great information. It has helped me see myself i have a long way to go but I’m going to start today. Thank you Jesus. God bless you.

  10. Thanks for all the hours of study you put in plus the writing, editing and re-writing! God will bless you and not forget your labor of love for His Name sake and for His people! Find Jesus in every page of scripture and show Him to His people! It will bring health to His church.

  11. Andrew:
    This was wonderful, truly Glorifying to God, and enriching to His Church.
    Blessings,
    George

  12. Hi Andrew, thank you for sharing a very comprehensive study! It is very helpful and I truly appreciate it. The insights you shared about how we can give God glory really helped me a lot.
    God’s blessings to you!

  13. Hi Andrew. This study has really blessed me. I should have asked before but do you min that I have put an excerpt from it on my blog. I have made sure to quote your name and website as the author of it – the section about stewardship of the image of God.

  14. Great article on glory, a word that I can’t quite get my mind around completely. The only thing I think you might be missing is the concept of holiness. I think that John Piper defined glory well also:

    “What is it? I believe the glory of God is the going public of his infinite worth. I define the holiness of God as the infinite value of God, the infinite intrinsic worth of God. And when that goes public in creation, the heavens are telling the glory of God, and human beings are manifesting his glory, because we’re created in his image, and we’re trusting his promises so that we make him look gloriously trustworthy.The public display of the infinite beauty and worth of God is what I mean by “glory,” and I base that partly on Isaiah 6, where the seraphim say, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty. The whole earth is full of his—” and you would expect them to say “holiness” and they say “glory.” They’re ascribing “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty. The whole earth is full of his—” and when that goes public in the earth and fills it, you call it “glory.” So God’s glory is the radiance of his holiness, the radiance of his manifold, infinitely worthy and valuable perfections.”

    Thanks for expanding my understanding of God’s glory.

  15. Praise the Lord..I am so glad that I come across this article on the glory of God. It has greatly strengthened and enriched my understanding of the the matter.. Thank you brother. May God bless you and also all those who read this article.

  16. Thank you for the lesson on the Glory of God. It was very well written and easy to follow and research. Good work continue on your journey to get an understanding of God’s word and pass it on to others so that they can get the same.

  17. I decided tonight to investigate the real meaning of giving glory to God. Bingo! Thank you for such an informative explanation. BTW, now I understand better why I have always liked Psalm 145 so much!

  18. This is very helpful. I am writing a booklet on Awakening, and I know that it centers in giving glory to God. D. Clair Davis

  19. Thank You Andrew Bernhardt, You are a BLESSING towards sharing the study scripture lesson ministry with biblical principles on “Learning how to Glorify God” in which The Holy Spirit has blessed You, with this spiritual gift of wisdom, towards the purpose to share through rebuke, correction and reproved in agapy love as well as exhortation within the means of edifying Christ Church in humility .
    I am also sharing this study guide with a fellow servant of Christ within humble edification as well.

    Not QUENCHING the TRANSFORMING POWER and therefore Not Grieving The Spirit of Jehovah God.. Surely Yes, bearing the Spiritual Fruits that Our Holy Father’s Spirit have produced within us, are exactly what being transformed into the likeness and character of Jesus Christ is all about within our SALVATION journey.. (Romans 8:28-30) (Gal.5:22-24).

    So again, Thank You towards your obedience Andrew B.,
    You have been a Blessing!!!
    Erika B.

  20. Thanks for your really helpful article about bring glory to God. Ive kinda summarized what you wrote into a statement

    To glorify God means:

    To delight in, to honour, and to draw attention to-

    The greatness of His name

  21. Thank you very much for your time and devotion in this study,may the blessings of the Lord continue to manifest in you.In this study I got what to give glory to God means. I just want to live like father Abraham and King David who lived lives of giving glory to God. Thank you again. You are blessed.

  22. Thank you for sharing your study on the Glory of God. Recently I wake up every morning with a song in my spirit praising God and acknowledging that all of the glory belongs to Him. I am preparing a message to be preached on the Glory of God and your study is such a help to me. Thank you, and thank God.

  23. Love the way you looked at the character of God first, then the purpose.
    My greatest fear is to shame His name. Stealing His glory does that. Thank you for that too.

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