Hello Pastor! I love your blog! I was wondering what It meant to do everything for the glory of God? Also, if it’s possible, can this be anonymous? Thank you for all your encouraging post! They’ve helped me so much!
Hey my friend, I totally love this question. Please allow me to point you to a few posts here. Please feel free to skip through them:
And I preached an entire message on what it means to glorify God, which is still my second most downloaded sermon (though perhaps more out of curiosity than anything else) —
I know we tend to over-use these phrases in our Christianese vocab:
- "We want to glorify You."
- “We want to bring You the glory.”
- “We do everything for the glory of God.”
- “Dropping off food for the homeless from my jetpack is not for my glory.”
But really, when we’re asked what it means to “glorify God,” we get all kinds of unclear ideas. So here a few things to consider, and as always, please feel free to skip around.
1) The word glory in Hebrew is chabod, which means “weight” and implies a kind of qualitative value.
When we glorify anything, we are giving it a deeper value, as if to say it is critical to our existence. So when a movie “glorifies war,” it’s attributing some kind of substantial worth (whether good or bad) to the idea of war.
The same applies to our concept of God, or money, or sex, or doctrine, or morality, or reputation. Anything can be glorified. And whether we choose to or not, we are always glorifying something.
2) The story of Adam and Eve tells us we once had all the glory we could ever want, but because of sin, we are now disconnected from the source of all glory.
God is the truest, purest glory in the universe. We were made to be filled by His glory and His alone. In sermons when I talk about glory, I sometimes say as a joke, “God is not just the only weight, but He’s overweight. He’s more than all we need.” When humanity turned away from God, as the Genesis story goes, we were not merely disobedient: we also disconnected from our true glory, the weight of our very existence.
We once had the voice of God constantly telling us we were loved, approved, affirmed, and validated. But we chose apart from God, and ever since we’ve been looking for glory in everything else that isn’t God.
3) Nearly every human problem can be tracked back to the desperate search for our own glory: but all human glory is temporary, hence the problem.
The next time you walk into a room full of people, I want you to see how they talk and interact and exchange and tell stories and make jokes. Simply watch, listen, soak it in.
Soon you’ll see there’s a hidden anxiety underneath all their language, a deeper sort of quest for each person to validate their individual existence. You’ll see this web of tug-of-war where everyone is pulling, clawing, scratching, grasping for this weight.
It’s like there’s a secret limited stash of golden currency in the air, and everyone’s fighting for it by telling the better story, bragging about their bank account, trying to be the funny guy, showing off their intelligence, dropping famous names, wearing a name, holding up false bravado, pretending to be a mystery, masking their voice in tight controlled expressions of eloquence.
You know what this is: insecurity. Everyone’s fighting for glory to cover the emptiness, that vacuum fracture. And even when they get the glory from that room, it will never be enough: because we weren’t made for the temporary glory of this earth. Our true glory is beyond the room, outside one another, from on high.
Part of the story of Christianity is that humanity has been locating their glory into the wrong things — a problem called idolatry — and Jesus came to relocate our glory in the true God once more.
4) Taking glory for yourself only makes you smaller, more unstable, and less than God means for you to be.
Think of every selfish person who needs to have the best story in the room. Think of every glory-hog who needs to be the center of attention.
Even if they’re physically attractive: there’s something about stealing glory that feels inherently wrong. When a person praises their own efforts, it no longer feels praiseworthy.
All of us naturally know that self-glory is ugly. And when you throw your entire weight into money or sex or substance: it’s always collapsible, because these things are temporary.
There is only one who could ever hold up our endless search for glory, and nothing else is really ever enough. The problem is that in our current state, we’re absolutely unworthy of such glory. So then, this is why Jesus had to come for us. And the fact that he came for us is why he deserves the weight of all glory. Which brings us to —
5) The reason God deserves all the glory is because He gave it up for us. And when you give it up to Him: you find yourself.
Imagine with me, that you are God. You made people to love you, know your love, and to love each other.
But they turn against you and turn against each other. And all that they once had in you: they look for it from other people, either using them or killing them or both.
So what do you do?
Certainly you wouldn’t enter the world as one of your own creations, stripped of your own divine power, and walk among these thieves and murderers. Definitely you wouldn’t take on their weaknesses and infirmities and temptations. Of course you wouldn’t dare to teach them the true nature of their original design: that they’re to love you, to love each other, that there is another world beyond this one. And you wouldn’t give up your own glory on a cross so that everyone could regain the glory that they already gave up themselves.
But this is what Jesus did.
In Philippians 2, we’re told that the Son of God did not consider equality with God, but became a servant for us and took on human form, and in the end even humbled himself to die on a cross. For us. And he was raised again in power, for us. So then every knee will bow, every tongue will confess: that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
I know that some of this is strange and esoteric. But consider: What is real glory? It’s not to gain for yourself. It’s to sacrifice out of humility and love. All the true glorious stories of heroes are those who died in battle for their people, those who gave up their lives so that many would be saved. In death, they gained glory. And Jesus is the ultimate glorious one.
The Christian life then is partially like hot-potato. I’m always giving up the glory and deflecting it to Jesus. This is what it means to “bring God the glory.” As I’ve said before, Anything good in me is God in me, and anything bad in me, God is working on that. My life is to point to the giver. All the credit goes immediately to Him. Like John the Baptist said in John 3:30, "He must increase, I must decrease."
When I locate the glory back to God, then I’m no longer locating my hope in money, marriage, or myself. I understand that everything good comes from God, and that he paid a price to give me back the true glory that we once dismissed. So when God is my glory, I can become more unshakeable, more pure, more true, more myself. I can actually enjoy things like money and marriage instead of using them to fill my own emptiness. I no longer live under the tyranny of self-dictatorship, in which I falsely believe I’m the “main character” of my own story. Because God is the main character, and I’m just a cameo, and I’m good with that.
The amazing thing to me is that even though we turned away from God’s glory, He still wants us to be part of His story. The reason why I throw my entire weight upon Jesus is because he is not only unshakeable, but he died for me that I might have a home in him.
When you can today, please take some time to read Philippians 2, Isaiah 6, and Isaiah 40. Read them slowly. Breathe in the words of God. And consider the immensity of the one who made you. You’ll know that two things are true, two very humbling things: that 1) God is so huge, so vast, so overwhelmingly incredible, but 2) He is also so close, so intimate, and so very near you.