“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:8).
How may God be glorified? What does it mean for God to be glorified? Today, we continue our examination of the biblical doctrine of Soli deo Gloria or giving God all the praise and honor for who He is and what He has accomplished. Is giving God glory only through the act of singing and praising Him with music? Or does giving God glory involve much more?
How may the believer in Christ glorify God in light of all that the Scriptures teach concerning God’s glory? There are a variety of ways in which this may happen. The following examples are but a sampling from God’s Word.
The believer glorifies God through humble service. Secondly, the believer also glorifies God by not being ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Thirdly, believers glorify God by being grateful to God for all of the blessings He has given. In Luke 17:11-18, Luke recounts the occasion when Jesus passed through the areas of Samaria and Galilee on His way to Jerusalem. Upon entering a certain village, Jesus met ten men who were lepers. As was the expected behavior of those diseased with this malady, they stood away from other unaffected people.
All ten men cried out to Jesus for Him to heal them. In fact the text says, “they lifted up their voices and said, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us’.” Jesus told them to show themselves to the priest in order to be declared clean as keeping with Old Testament law (Leviticus 13:1-3; 14:2-32). As these ten men journeyed to the priests, they were cleansed of the disease.
However, only one of the ten returned to Jesus “and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan” (NASB 1516). Jesus asked where the other nine were. He remarked that the only one who returned to give God glory was a foreigner. This would imply that the other nine were Jews.
We often in our prayers ask God for many things such as healing, prosperity, wisdom, and deliverance. Yet, when these prayers are answered by God in the way we wanted, do we return to God and give Him glory? What about when our prayers are not answered in the way we want? What then? Do we give God glory even in the pain? Our level of gratitude in life’s situations speaks volumes concerning whether we truly desire to give God glory.
Fourthly, believers give God glory by not seeking their own way. Humans are born selfish and self-centered and God’s salvation does not immediately eradicate this tendency to want what we want when we want it. The Christian must continually battle this conflict between the Spirit and the flesh (Galatians 5:16-23). Success in this endeavor, through God’s assistance (Philippians 2:13) results in the believer giving God glory.
Fifthly, believers glorify God by renouncing and rejecting anything that would set itself up as equal to, or greater than, God. Idolatry was a continual problem for Israel throughout its history. The same could be said for the church. In fact, the world continues to seek for that object or philosophy to take God’s place (Romans 1:23). However, God calls the believer to fulfill the greatest commandment He has given. Believers are to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:28-34). As they do so consistently, they give God glory.
Sixthly, believers glorify God by living righteously. The Apostle Paul explained in Romans 6:4 that believers are to identify themselves with Jesus Christ in all areas of life. Due to the fact that Christ has raised us up from spiritual death, we are to live in a way that evidences this new life in Christ. This is the predominant theme throughout the epistle of I John.
Philippians 1:11 indicates that believers are to be filled with the fruits of righteousness. This righteousness is through Jesus Christ alone and results in glory and praise to God.
I Thessalonians 2:12 explains that Christians are to live in a manner worthy of God’s call unto salvation. The reason for this is because God has brought believers into His kingdom and glory.
Peter stated in his second epistle that believers are to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18).
Finally, one of the most significant ways believers glorify God is in trials. The conundrum to this subject is that believers do not always associate trials with an opportunity to bring God glory. Many believers assume trials are something to be avoided at best, and painfully endured until they are over at worst. However, the Scriptures teach that one of the most profound ways believers may glorify God is when they are in the crucible of conflict.
In Romans 5:1-3, the Apostle Paul writes, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope.”
To “exult” means to glory; from the Greek καυχάομαι / kauchaomai. The believer glories in tribulations presently and personally. The verb form refers to boasting or rejoicing, with or without reason, because of trouble.
Within the context, tribulations (θλῖψις / thlipsis) refer to the pressing and squeezing of olives or grapes in a press. However, Paul is speaking of the normal pressures of living and the inevitable troubles that characterize life in this world for the disciples of Jesus (Matthew 5:10-12; John 15:20; 2 Corinthians 4:17; I Thessalonians 3:1-3; 2 Timothy 3:12; I Peter 4:19).
Paul reiterates this perspective in Romans 8:18. He explains, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
Peter contributes to this concept of glorifying God in the midst of trials. In I Peter 1:7 he writes, “that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;” (NASB 1909). See also I Peter 2:20; 4:13-14; 5:1, 10.
What then is the chief end of man? Clearly, it is to give God glory.
Soli deo Gloria!