How Can I Glorify One Who is All-Glorious

Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!”
(1 Chron. 16:28 (ESV)

Last week’s article entitled “Keep Calm and Glorify God” focused on the idea of giving God glory in all things, inspired by the comments of the Olympic athletes who gave God the glory for their accomplishments, and applying Paul’s exhortation of 1 Cor 10:31.  If you are interested, I’d encourage you to visit Timothy Dalrymple’s blog here and here to read some good commentary on why athletes give God the glory and what’s at the heart of the criticism directed toward young athletes like Gabby Douglas.

But to be honest, last week’s article wasn’t the one I really wanted to write.  I’m glad it’s out there, but when I started writing, there was a more pressing question that I wanted to ask and explore, namely, “How can I give glory to One who is All Glorious?”

This was the prevailing thought during my early morning runs last week.  Every morning at about 5:30 I’m out the door, heading west out of town on the gravel roads, in what I’ve come to call my Run before the Sun.  Usually when I’m running 5 or 6 miles, I can finish just as the sun is coming up.  Because the return portion of every run is eastward, this summer I have been blessed to seen some pretty amazing sunrises.

Yet as I watch the painted majesty of God’s new day, as I hear the birds singing their praises, and watch the deer leap for joy through rows of corn and beans, I wonder, “Have I anything to add to this refrain?”  Knowing that the heavens declare the glory of God, that God in and of himself possesses all glory – enough to outshine the sun – what could I ever “give” that would add to this all-glorious God?

Well, the truth is, nothing.  Nothing I say or do could ever add to the glory of God.  God is, in his very nature, perfect in every way, lacking not in glory, holiness, righteousness, power, etc…  Still, I can, and, in fact am commanded to, give glory to God in my experience of him.

Let’s unpack that a bit.

God, in and of himself, possesses all glory, and his glory is readily manifest.  Psalm 8 says that the Lord has set his glory above the heavens.  In Isaiah 6:3 we hear the seraphim calling, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”  God’s work of deliverance in Exodus is said to have revealed his glory (Ex 15:6).  The ultimate end of all creation is that “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Hab 2:14).  Great is the glory of the Lord, and His glory will endure forever.  We were created so that we would glorify God and enjoy Him forever (Westminster Shorter Catechism).

In our sin, however, we have fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23), and our eyes have turned from his glory to lesser things (Rom 1:23).  We have blinded ourselves to the glory of God, we have made ourselves ignorant of his goodness so that when His glory is revealed, we scurry like rats to the dark corner for safety.  As John’s gospel tells us, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14), “and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” (John 3:19).

It is, then, the work of the redeemed to give glory to God in the midst of a darkened world.  We are not giving to God anything that he does not already possess.  Instead, our act of “giving God glory” is actually the work of Proclamation and Redirection.

We are to proclaim the glory of God

We are a witness to a fallen world that God is glorious and good, mighty to save, and faithful to his word.  Our lives ought to lift the eyes of the world to the glory of God.  This is the purpose of our salvation: “Your people shall all be righteous… that I might be glorified” (Isa 60:21).  It’s like when we say we are “magnifying God.”  We aren’t actually making God appear bigger than he already is as with a magnifying glass – that would be impossible.  Rather, as with a telescope, we are focusing in on a particular aspect of God to see Him with more clarity and detail.  When we give glory to God, we are acknowledging and affirming the truth: Our God is Glorious!

We are to direct all glory to God

When an athlete gives glory to God, when someone being honored gives all honor to Jesus, they are redirecting the praise and adulation they have received toward God.  This isn’t a false humility, but an act of honest and humble acclamation; attributing glory to the one to whom glory is due.

Here’s a quote from Dalrymple’s blog that really sums it all up, “It’s not merely that God gives Gabby Douglas the victory; it’s that God gives Gabby Douglas life, the breath in her lungs, the lungs to breathe it with, the talent in her body and soul, the strength in her spirit, the family that supports and inspires her, the opportunity to compete on the highest level, and then (when God gives it) the victory.”

Friends, this is why we glorify God.  He has made us.  He has saved us.  He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.  May we, with all grace and humility, reflect the glory of God for a world that needs to see it.

Keep Calm and Glorify God

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
(1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV))

I hope you have enjoyed the Olympics these past two weeks as much as my family has.  It is such a joy to be able to watch these athletes compete at the top of their sport – from Michael Phelps becoming the most decorated athlete ever, to the Women’s Gymnastics team getting gold and Gabby Douglas winning the All-Around, Usain Bolt winning the both 100 and 200 for the second time, and even the inspiring stories of Oscar Pistorius (the double amputee running in the 400m) and Kirani James (the 18 year old who won the 400m, giving Granada their first Olympic medal).

One of the things that I have really enjoyed is hearing the athletes give glory and praise to God when they are interviewed.  Athlete after athlete would begin their response with, “I just want to give God the glory…” or “I am so thankful to God for the opportunity…”  It has become so common that it is more noticeable when a person does not give praise to God during their interview.  Particularly interesting was the celebration of Will Claye after winning the bronze medal in the Long Jump, holding the American flag behind him, as is popular today, with his Bible in his right hand.  That made me sit up and take notice.

One thing I would like to see, however, is something that doesn’t happen too often.  What would it say if those who came in 4th, or finished dead last in their field, also gave glory to God?  Were they not also blessed by God just to be there, grateful for the opportunity to compete.  Would they not have an even more compelling witness if in the midst of defeat they could testify that God is good and deserves all the glory?  Or is God only glorified when we are successful and winning the praise of millions of spectators?

Friends, you may never be on the kind of stage that these Olympic competitors are on this week, you may never win the spotlight and have the opportunity to say to Bob Costas, “I just want to give God all the glory…”  But that doesn’t mean that you can’t still give God the glory.  No one saw me (thankfully) on my run this morning, so there were no crowds to cheer me on, but during my run I was laying before God the cares of my day and seeking His mercy and grace to give me strength; may God be glorified in my run.  Today at work you may not have closed the big deal for the company or accomplished every goal you set for the week, but if you served the Lord with all your heart and put in a honest day’s work, God is glorified in your labor.  If you’ve found yourself at home with piles of laundry and layers of dust but have shown your love for the Lord in providing for your spouse and children a loving and grace-filled home, then God is glorified in what you have done.

What would the conversations around the dinner table be like if when someone asked, “Honey, how was your day?” you responded by saying, “You know, I just give glory to God for the opportunity to do what I do.”  Whether your first, last, or somewhere in the middle, let us do all things for the glory of God!