So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
(1 Corinthians 10:31)
This Bible verse has been a staple of my life and ministry for almost as long as I can remember. The glory of God is something often talked about in Christian circles, but it is also often misunderstood. One common misconception is to limit the concept of glory to only a sense of greatness, power, or authority. Or, we often tend to limit the idea of giving glory to simply praising or honoring someone or something.
It shouldn’t surprise us that we get it wrong easily. We are limited humans with a sinful nature that will always tend toward viewing God in human ways. I confess that I have often had a very limited view of the concept of God’s glory and what it means to give Him glory. I hope this study will help encourage others to dig a little deeper into this magnificently rich truth.
The first thing to do is to look at the basic word meanings for the terms relating to glory found within Scripture. The following definitions were taken from The Outline of Biblical Usage created by Larry Pierce. You can easily look up word meanings yourself using different tools such as Blue Letter Bible.
Glory: beauty, splendor, rank, renown, majesty, weight (most often used within the OT)
to praise, extol, magnify, honor, and celebrate (How we should glorify God.)
to render something excellent, adorn, beautify (How God glorifies us.)
To be Glorified:
the dignity and worth of some person or thing to become manifest and acknowledged
to be perfected, rendered excellent, made worthy
To Glory In: to delight in or boast in
In Glory: a most glorious position or exalted state. (In the presence and fullness of God’s glory that we will enjoy with Him after death.)
When thinking of God’s glory, we are considering all of His attributes. Sinclair Ferguson has a good way of describing this in His book Lessons from the Upper Room.
“The Glory of God is the external expression or manifestation of His being and His invisible attributes and perfections. It is revealed in the kaleidoscopic bursts of the eternal magnificence of God’s being and character displayed in the created order. By such means God ‘speaks,’ as it were, declaring: ‘You cannot see Me because I am the invisible God. But I clothe Myself in these magnificent garments to give you a sense of how majestic and glorious I really am.”
Here are two more simplified definitions.
“The glory of God is the manifestation of all that He is.” – Sinclair Ferguson
“The glory of God is the infinite beauty and greatness of God’s manifold perfections.” – John Piper
We are commanded to glorify God, and God is simultaneously in the process of glorifying His children. The following expanded definition should provide more insight into how this is possible.
to think, suppose, be of opinion, to praise, extol, magnify, celebrate, to honor, do honor to, hold in honor (How we glorify God)
to make glorious, adorn with luster, clothe with splendor (How God glorifies His children)
- to impart glory to something, render it excellent
- to make renowned, render illustrious
– to cause the dignity and worth of some person or thing to become manifest and acknowledged. (Another way we glorify God.)
Study it Out
- As the Creator of all life, God’s glory is reflected within His creation. So, there is a measure of glory found within all parts of His creation. How do passages like 1 Corinthians 15 and Psalm 29 shed more light on this?
- What do Psalm 8 and Genesis 2 have to say about the special glory given to humans? Where is our worth found?
- Because of sin, the glory with which we were created has been marred and we are in need of the glorification process in our lives. (God is rendering us excellent, adorning us, beautifying and perfecting us through Jesus Christ to become like Jesus Christ.)We’ll develop this further in the study. However, what do Hebrews 3:1-4, 1 Corinthians 3:10-23, and Romans 11:36 tell us about God’s surpassing glory?
As humans, our tendency is to seek glory for ourselves or attribute the glory that we do possess as coming from ourselves. I hope that this study will whet your appetite to taste the wonders of God’s glory and pursue His glory above all else. The next post will look a little deeper into God’s glory and why He deserves to be glorified…or why we should acknowledge and delight in His glorious attributes.