It may not earn you many points in the game Words with Friends, but “glory” is a big word.
Glory to the newborn king!
Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.
It can be a buzzword for Christians, while others liberally throw it around. No less than two musical artists, three albums, and nine pop songs are named “Glory” (hat tip to Kanye West and Jay-Z).
We have battlefield glory, the road to glory, the glory of love, blazes of glory, and glory days. Through history, the British Royal Navy has commissioned or captured ten different ships named HMS Glory.
Glory is not an obscure word, but do you know what it means? You’re probably familiar with the term, but could you explain it in plain language?
We commonly treat “glory” as though it’s interchangeable with “praise.” So we give God “all the praise and glory” for good things. Whether we “praise” him or “glorify” him, we do the same thing — we speak well of him.
But there’s a difference between “praise” and “glory” that is important to recognize. Glorifying something means more than speaking well of it. Glorifying something, in one sense, means acting in such a way as to display that something is the best.
Ultimately, it’s an inadequate example, but in my house, we praise dinner, but we glorify dessert.
I married a terrific cook. Countless culinary aspirants stew in jealous longing for a fraction of her talent. Because her secret arts have been known to bewitch hungry souls to the verge of insanity, an invitation to dinner at our house could make a killing on eBay. We used to have an after-dinner family chant that went, “Good cooker, good looker, good mama,” and we could have drowned out the mobs of Ephesus with it (Acts 19:34). We eat well here, and we’re not afraid to say so. We praise dinner.
However, dessert is what truly rocks this house. There is always, always, always room for dessert. A child could ask for seconds and thirds of homemade potato rolls and leave the table stuffed to the eyebrows, but he’ll never resist an offer of dessert. In our family, we claim to have two stomachs — the second exclusively dedicated to dessert.
Dessert always gets pre-eminence. It’s more important than toys. It’s more important than dolls. It’s more important than television. It’s more important (regretfully) than guests. The children — who can’t hear me when I shout, “Clean your room,” from two feet away — come running from across the house if I whisper, “Time for dessert.” We glorify dessert.
God is like dessert. He’s the most important thing (the weightiest reality) in the universe, and we glorify him when we treat him as such. Giving him glory includes offering him praise, but it also means much more. We glorify him by arranging our lives around him and his priorities. We glorify him when he captures our attention and receives our time and resources. We glorify him when we drop everything to spend time with him. We glorify him when we care more about what he wants than about what we want. Even better, we glorify him when we want the same things he wants.
That’s why he’s glorified in us when we’re satisfied in him. What could be more important to a person than that which brings satisfaction? The more we embrace him as our highest treasure and greatest joy, the more he is glorified in our lives.
Glory is value, beauty, importance, weight, or rank. It’s possible to praise something without truly glorifying it, such as the public official who smiles with his wife for the cameras but reserves fondest and truest affection for his nameless mistress. And it’s possible to glorify the wrong things — things unworthy of supreme value. But it’s not possible to fake glory. We can’t truly assign value to things we don’t value.
The Bible goes to great lengths to show us the weight of God’s glory.
All nations must know that God is stronger and more important than Pharaoh (Exodus 14:4, 17–18). Joshua called Achan to value God more than the treasures of Jericho (Joshua 7:19). God challenges Job to achieve the heights of divine status and power (Job 40:10–14). For David, God is more reliable than his foes (Psalm 3:1–3). Jeremiah laments Judah’s poor choice to exchange what really matters for what finally doesn’t (Jeremiah 2:11).
No one had ever seen God, but Jesus showed them (and us) how astonishingly gracious and true he is (John 1:14–18). And this Lamb who was slain, along with his almighty Father and Holy Spirit, will only grow in importance and rank and worth for the rest of eternity (Revelation 1:6, 4:11, 5:13, 7:12, 19:1).
Glory is not a difficult concept. Our generation talks endlessly about glory because everyone glorifies something. We can discuss the idea simply with our children, our friends, and our unbelieving neighbors. We can explain this weighty concept in simple language.
We are the people of God, and every choice we make ought to show the incomparable importance and value of our Lord (1 Corinthians 10:31). In my home, that means God is like dessert. Only infinitely better.