How do we glorify God in the things that we do? I put effort into things I want to glorify God in but those end up becoming idols. Then I think maybe I don’t understand what it means to glorify God.
I was asking around and seeing what questions my friends were tackling about God and their walk with him. I was excited to see this question because it is one that I’m personally trying to wrestle with myself.
There are three main themes that these questions touch upon: the Glory of God, increasing the Glory of God, and idolatry.
The Glory of God
On my quest to put God’s Glory to words, I found that John Piper does justice with simplicity without sacrificing significance. He says that to understand God’s glory, we need to define God’s Holiness– that being God’s worth. The value of my keyboard is $50, and the value of my watch is $12. So what is the value of God?
So the Holiness of God is his infinite intrinsic worth. So how does this relate to God’s glory?
Piper says, “I believe the glory of God is the going public of his infinite worth.” His Glory is letting everything and everyone know of his Holiness.
Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare His glory and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” The Glory of God is simply the outcry and public declaration of just how valuable God is in his perfect nature of love, mercy, grace, and power.
How do we Glorify God? (In the things we do)
The heavens and the skies already point to the glory and the value of God. When someone stares up at the night sky or blinds themselves aiming their camera into a sunset, the feeling of awe usually fills them. “That is beauty,” they’ll whimper. They won’t say, “Wow, look at what I’ve done. Look at how beautiful I’ve made this.” But the believer will say, “Wow look at God! Look how glorious he is and what he can do!”
So let’s take this and apply it to ourselves. God gets glory when others see us and our lives and say, “Wow, look at God! Look how glorious he is!”
Applying this practically becomes the challenging part, with idolatry coming into play at every step. Yes, even trying to glorify God can become Idolatry– it can be elevated to be more important than God himself in our lives.
There’s a great quote in C.S. Lewis’ book The Great Divorce:
There have been men before… who got so interested in proving the existence of God that they came to care nothing for God himself… as if the good Lord had nothing to do but to exist. There have been some who were so preoccupied with spreading Christianity that they never gave a thought to Christ himself.
Could we be so preoccupied with trying to glorify God that we (ironically) forget about God himself? This is what the person means when they say that their efforts to glorify God becomes idolatry, just like other people’s efforts to spread Christianity or to prove God’s existence.
The way this creeps up is that it can also become our resumes that we rely on, when it is Christ’s death and resurrection that redeems us. We have a natural tendency to want to earn things, God’s grace being no exception. But in Luke 18:9-14 we see that walking the walk and glorifying God with the reliance on our religious resumes leaves us dead in our sin, unforgiven and unjustified.
It’s important at this point to not have a defeatist attitude, but a desperate attitude. My suggestion to the question above is simple: move the idea of glorifying God in the things that we do away from “chore” and onto “check.” Stop looking at it not as something you have to do, like mow the lawn. Look at it as something to keep in check, like whether or not your shoes are tied.
At the core of this is understanding that God doesn’t love us anymore or any less if one day we glorify Him in everything we do, or on a bad day in nothing that we do. We are saved by grace, as a gift, not by our own power or because of anything we’ve done or can do.
The problem is an unhealthy emphasis on the fruit of the tree when we should be worrying about the roots. When we take the time to maintain the plant and it’s roots, the fruit will bear naturally. Similarly, when we take the time to dig into the Word and cultivate our personal relationships with God, our lives and everything we do in it will have no other choice but to manifest God’s Glory.