Glorifying God In Our Lives
By Glendon Thompson
The Westminster Confession asks the question, "What is the chief end of man?" And it provides the answers: "Our chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever." "Yes," you say, "I know all that but just how do I actually glorify God?" This is no light question: if we are to reverence, adore, enjoy, and praise Him we must know how to do it. The only authoritative guide on the subject of glorifying God is the Bible. It is not something we grasp or perform automatically. Only by biblical instruction do we consciously render glory to God.
God Is Glorified When We Repent and Honor His Son
Jeremiah the prophet exhorts us, "Hear and give ear: do not be proud, for the Lord has spoken. Give glory to the Lord your God before He causes darkness, and before your feet stumble on the dark mountains, and while you are looking for light, He turns it into the shadow of death and makes it dense darkness. But if you will not hear it, my soul will weep in secret for your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears, because the Lord’s flock has been taken captive" (Jer. 13:15-17).
Any individual contemplating glorifying God must begin with repentance toward God. That is the first duty of the person who seeks to give God glory. From the context of Jeremiah 13 we learn that the people of Judah were stubborn (refused to hear His words); they were self-willed (followed the dictates of their hearts); and they were idolatrous (served and walked after other gods). God promised to mar their pride, to truly humble them. Jeremiah’s appeal, "Give glory to the Lord your God" (13:16), therefore, requires repentance and obedience to God.
To glorify God commences with a change from a rebellious, self-driven lifestyle to one of humility, submission and dependence upon God. That is the path to glorify God. Hence, it is certain that no unbeliever glorifies God on this earth. The Bible pronounces all those alienated from the Lord Jesus Christ as having fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). In life we either glorify God or bring dishonor to Him. There is no intermediate position.
So to "Give glory to God" requires repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus. Granted that faith in the Lord Jesus is not immediately evident in Jeremiah 13, it is evident that the rest of Scripture links faith and repentance. Therefore, both are needed in glorifying God. Related to believing in Christ is the important task of honoring the Son. John 5:22 says, "For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son."
Having established the fact that judgment resides in the hand of the Son, the next verse (23) underscores God’s purpose, "…that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him." According to this passage we glorify God by honoring His Son. In the person of the Son God’s glory is revealed. By honoring and glorifying Christ we are honoring and glorifying God, because the Lord Jesus is the revelation from God and the revelation of God.
Several things are involved in honoring the Son. First, we do so by acknowledging that the biblical record about Him is true. The incarnation is a mystery not a myth. We accept by faith the fact that Jesus lived prior to His appearance on earth, and that God prepared for Him a body through His servant, the Virgin Mary. Also, we agree that He performed many miracles and lived a perfect life.
Moreover to honor the Son, and thus glorify God, it is necessary to claim His redemptive work upon the cross of Calvary as God’s gracious remedy for our sins. At the cross the sins of His people were judged and condemned; significantly, pardon, cleansing and life were purchased for us. Further, honoring the Son means that along with accepting His crucifixion, we accept also His resurrection and exaltation. God raised Him by His mighty power on the third day and later took Him to glory. Lastly, we honor the Son by sanctifying the Lord Christ in our hearts (compare 1 Peter 3:15). As we set Him apart as Lord of our life we glorify our Father in heaven.
God Is Glorified by Ongoing Praise Emphasis in Our Lives
The second major area from which God derives glory is giving praise to God. Psalm 50:23 says, "Whoever offers praise glorifies Me." Taken seriously, this verse should transform how we approach the worship of God. Attending Church takes on new meaning because our purpose in worship is not entertainment but the praise of God. There is a built-in guarantee in the activity of worship: where God is genuinely praised He receives glory.
Not all of us are blessed with melodious voices…but when praise spills out from the heart, it delights God...We are designed for praise. You have a heart, a mind and a mouth, and when they are in harmony they make delightful music. Only those who refuse to praise God complain that worship is boring. Those who are engaged in worship from the heart have little time to concentrate on the aesthetics of worship. Those who praise Him should understand that God is saying He delights in praise from the heart; it is wonderful to Him.
Regardless of the unresolved situations in your life, you have enough today to keep you praising God for eternity. Praise Him for the greatness of His character. Praise Him because of His unchanging faithfulness and goodness. Praise Him for His many, many acts of kindness. Sing with the mind and emotion engaged. "He who offers [this kind of intelligent and heartfelt] praise glorifies Me."
God Is Glorified through the Work and Conduct of His Children
If we desire to glorify God we should consider service for Him. Thomas Watson states, "Glory possesses an immeasurable stimulus." The sight of the glory of God leads to glorifying Him in service. This was true for men like Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Peter, James, John and Paul. Seeing His glory "oils the wheels of obedience." One service that particularly honors God is the evangelizing of the lost. "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit" (John 15:8). It is already established that adoration and praise honor God. But we magnify Him as other people are brought to love and praise Him.
Malachi 1:11 declares that God’s intention is for all nations to praise Him. "For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles; in every place incense shall be offered to My name." The Apostle Paul also confirms that bearing witness to God is glorifying to Him: "That the Gentiles might glorify God" (Rom. 15:9).
Rendering joyful service to the king is pleasing and magnifies God, but if holy living does not accompany the service, these religious activities are unacceptable to God. Holiness of life is more desirable than any service performed for God. The Apostle Paul reveals the importance of living unto God: "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s" (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
The Church is the habitation of the Spirit. God does not dwell in temples made of hands. Where the people of God are, there God dwells. However, God’s Spirit does not dwell only with His people, but in His people. Individual believers are temples inhabited by His Spirit. Since the Holy Spirit indwells us and we are God’s property, Paul commands us: "Therefore glorify God in your bodies which are God’s." These words from First Corinthians 6:20 are written in the context where sexual immorality is discussed. The minimum that is required by the bidding of the Word to glorify God in our bodies is sexual purity. But this does not exhaust the command. We are to employ all our members – eyes, hands, feet, mind – as instruments of righteousness.
Urgency of the Exhortation
I would do you a disservice if I were to conclude without stressing the urgency inherent in the command of Jeremiah, "Give glory to the Lord your God." If this was all Jeremiah said you could conceivably postpone this matter to some future time. In order to show the immediacy of the demand the prophet adds these words: "…before He [God] causes darkness, and before your feet stumble on the dark mountains, and while you are looking for light, He turns it into the shadow of death and makes it dense darkness" (3:16).
Jeremiah issues this plea because he received revelation of an approaching darkness. Engulfed in darkness Judah would stumble like a drunkard. God would cause their feet to stumble in this dark path. Behind the imagery of stumbling is the shepherd who guards his sheep on the mountain and waits for the light of dawn. Instead of light the darkness persists and the shepherd stumbles. What does darkness signify? It is a sign of judgment. Darkness was one of the plagues the Lord sent upon Pharaoh. Jeremiah sees the judgment approaching in the form of the exile. As a result he urges, "Give glory to the Lord your God before He causes darkness and before your feet stumble…."
Our world is godless in character. Men are stubborn, self-willed and idolatrous, and worst of all, they are unthankful. They neither give thanks nor glorify Him. The reminder that a day of darkness looms near is reason to pause and consider whether we live for self-glory or God’s glory. In due course the feet of all will slide out of this earthly home. Some will be banished to a "far country" that makes Judah’s seventy-year exile in Babylon appear like a tea party. On the other hand, some will be welcomed into the city of light. Those who will take the walk of shame into inescapable and endless darkness will hear, "Depart from Me!" With these crushing words ringing in their ears, the Lord Jesus will dismiss the ungodly, and they "shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matt. 8:12).
If you have not yet started, begin now to give glory to God by repentance and faith. If you have started, strive to bring Him greater glory. Do it before the day of darkness, for in the day of death or judgment, it will be too late! In due time darkness will come. But, thanks be to God, those who belong to Him do not need to be terrified of the day of darkness, for when their eyelids close in death, they will awake in the haven of rest!
– Copyright and used by permission from The Gospel Witness. Glendon G. Thompson is editor of The Gospel Witness and pastor of Jarvis Street Baptist Church, Toronto, ON Canada.