1 Chronicles 16:28-29 – “Ascribe to the Lord, O families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength, ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name. Bring an offering and come before him; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.”
The first question asked in the Westminster Shorter Catechism is the question many of us have wrestled with. “What is the chief end of man?” The answer given: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” You’ll find this concept of the glory of God in many church mission statements. You’ll find many people corporately praying refer to “glorifying God.” And you’ll find many Christians stating that their foundational purpose in life is to either give God glory, or to glorify God. We use this phrase all the time, and if you have been a part of Wausau Alliance Church for the last few years, you have heard me define this word many times. I believe we must define key terms because as the culture relativizes truth, the meaning of words becomes more and more subjective. What this means is that if you desire to be clear in what you are communicating, you need to regularly define the words that you use that tend to be easily confused.
John Piper says “I don’t know of any truth that is more fundamentally pervasive than God’s zeal to be glorified, which means his zeal for us to think, so to feel, and so to act as to make him look as glorious as he is. We don’t add to his glory.” With this idea being so foundational and important to the Lord, we need to make sure we are thinking about it correctly.
The Hebrew word for glory is a word that implies heaviness. There is a weight to the reality of who God is. Paul described an eternal weight of glory in 2 Corinthians 4:17. The weight of God’s glory filled Solomon’s temple in 2 Chronicles 7:1-3 to the point that not only could the priests no longer enter the temple, but they couldn’t even stand on their feet. The weight of the glory of God was so significant that they found themselves bowing down with their faces to the ground, worshiping and giving thanks saying “for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” The glory of God then is the weight of all that God is.
The definition I have used, and will continue to use is that the glory of God is the display of his infinite worth and value. John Piper says, “God’s glory is the radiance of his holiness, the radiance of his manifold, infinitely worthy and valuable perfections.” Whether we see this radiance or not does not diminish or enhance the worth and value of God.
Glorifying God for us is the showing off of God’s infinite worth and value. This is us going public with our perceptions of how we see God at work. Glorifying God is giving him thanks in the moments when we see him deliver us from difficulty, and it is also enjoying HIM as we enjoy eating and drinking and playing and working, because he is the giver of all good things.
We might speak of giving God glory. Giving God glory does not mean we are adding to his value and worth. Giving God glory is more likened to ascribing glory to something. Claiming it for God’s reputation. Acknowledging something as being done by Him and not by accident or simply human volition. Whether we see it or not, God’s glory is all around us. This was why the angels cried “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty. The whole earth is full of his glory.”