There’s an old song sung in many church contexts that begins like this: “To God be the glory, great things He hath done…”
At first glance toward the subject of glory, we would likely to be all nods and grins. Of course God deserves the glory. He’s the Initiator and Sustainer of all things, so He should get the credit He deserves. And in a sense, that’s what glory is: It’s recognition. Honor. Respect.
We could name any action, person, structure, artistic expression, or anything else on or off the planet, and if we were honest, we would be forced to recognize God as the source. It’s true that there are great painters and song-writers, but God is the One who endowed them with their gifts. It’s true that there are marvelous architects and mavens of business, but it’s God who gave them their resources. It’s true that there are athletes with incredible physical prowess, but it’s God who puts spring in their step. Even the atheist who curses the name of God as a fabrication and crutch for the weak-minded only does so with the breath God Himself puts in his lungs on a moment-by-moment basis.
It’s no wonder, then, that the pages of Scripture are replete with acknowledgments of the glory of God and exhortations to engage in the business of glorifying Him. The glory of God is the second half of the song of the Seraphim in Isaiah 6: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts; His glory fills the whole earth.” The writings of prophets like Habakkuk reveal a longing for the world to be filled with the glory of the Lord (Habakkuk 3:2). We see God’s refusal to share His glory or praise with the likes of idols in passages like Isaiah 42:8. In fact, the glory of the Lord was a tangible reality in certain sections of the Old Testament.
God’s glory was like a white-hot, consuming fire on top of the mountain when the Lord gave Moses the Ten Commandments (Exodus 24:17). Moses was hidden in the cleft of a rock as the glory of the Lord passed by Him (Exodus 33:22). And the glory of the Lord consumed the sacrifice and filled the tabernacle when it was completed (Leviticus 9:23-24).
God is serious about His glory. His own glory is, indeed, God’s chief concern in all things – even the Hebrew word for glory points to this, as it stems from the root word for weight. God’s glory is a mighty thing; a weighty enterprise; the center of all existence, including our own. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”
I can see how we might be discouraged at such a description though. Because in the midst of all this weight; all this universal purpose; all this description of world events and cosmos creation; that we wonder how in the world are we to actually do this? How can we actually bring glory to the God who created all things? The One who, even now, receives the constant recognition from everything around us:
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world (Psalm 19:1-4).
When confronted with such a weighty task, such a high purpose, such a cosmic goal, we might well be moved to paralysis. And yet in the midst of all that weight comes this very encouraging word from the Apostle Paul:
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).
Eating? Drinking? Whatever else we do? These are small things. And that is the encouraging part of this whole purpose because it means that we do not have to compose great works of literature or paint masterpieces. We don’t have to be incredible athletes or the greatest thinker of our age. We don’t have to major in greatness to bring glory to God. We do it at the dinner table. We do it on the sofa. We do it looking at the spreadsheet and on a bike.
We do it… whatever we do. Our days are replete with opportunities to bring glory to God. If we only have the right perspective and see them as such. If we only don’t just go to work. Or just manage money. Or just have conversations with others. No – all these things are glory rich opportunities. If only we had eyes to see.