Can we be real here for a minute?
Sometimes I don’t want to give God glory.
There I was one recent Sunday. We were singing, “Let us experience the glory of Your goodness…”. And I had to stop cold, because I was tired of giving God glory, and feeling like He’s the only one in the world who gets to have glory. Maybe too much has been happening to me lately or something. All I know is, singing that song felt like duty, so I stopped.
I’m a believer in giving credit where credit is due. I have no problem giving God credit for what He does. Occasionally I get a compliment, and I say what you’re supposed to, “Thanks, but I give God the credit.” Except this is only partly true. I figure if I had a hand in something God did, I should be able to save some of the glory for myself. I’m hoping that all those bits of glory will eventually fill me with warm fuzzy feelings right to the top of my little ‘ol heart, and all my insecurity will drain away and I will be ok.
Something is off in this scenario, because it’s not working. Maybe my hungry heart has sprung a leak and all the stored-up gloryful feelings are dripping out. Or maybe I’ve confused “credit” with “glory” and they don’t in fact mean the same thing. Who knows, maybe I’m just a bad Christian who doesn’t love God enough.
Why So Important?
The Greek word for glory is “doxa”; it means magnificence, excellence, splendor, majesty. It’s where we get the word “doxology”. When I think about God as the creator and ruler of the universe, I see His magnificence and I’m able to give Him glory in those moments. God Himself has said He deserves glory. In fact, in Isaiah 42:8, He even demands it, and He will not share it. The New Testament takes up this theme and encourages us to give God glory for who He is. So does this make God a selfish narcissist? (Note: If this blog ends here, it’s because a lightning bolt has just taken me out.)
So back to God’s magnificence. When I picture Him in His kingly state, surrounded by glory on His eternal throne, I get warm, inspiration-ish feelings, a sort of pleasant reverence, as if I’m swept up in something bigger than myself. It was kind of like the way I felt when I watched my kids cross the stage to receive their diplomas. It makes me wonder what it would have been like to experience God’s splendor the way Moses did in the Old Testament Tabernacle (2 Chron. 71:1), as God’s magnificence pressed over them like clean air after rain. I would have been caught up in the pageantry. But I think this would last only until I ducked back outside the Tabernacle tent. The thing about worshiping kings is it’s harder to do when you leave their presence.
The Key to Glory
So if giving God glory is more than pomp and pageantry, what is it? I think about Jesus, the one person I know who was entitled to glory but gave it all away (John 9:24). Unlike me, he actually deserved to be glorified. I think the difference is that Jesus was so full of love for His Father that He glorified God as naturally as he breathed. It was the intimacy of their relationship that led to glory-giving.
His glory is His goodness
There’s a stunning story in Exodus 33 in which Moses and God spend time together in the intimacy of close friendship, hanging out together. The more time Moses spent with God, the more he wanted to. He enjoyed God’s goodness so much that he asked God to stay with him forever. When God agreed, Moses had one more request: to see God’s glory.
First goodness, then glory ; Moses’ request flowed from his satisfied heart. He knew God loved him. Like Jesus, who, out of his full intimacy with God, gave Him all His glory, so Moses wanted to give God glory because he’d experienced goodness. God’s answer to Moses is pure confirmation. I am stunned by what comes next: God doesn’t say He will show His glory. He says He will show His goodness.
It comes full circle; God’s glory is His goodness is His glory.
When I’m having one of those all-too-rare days where I’m simply able to enjoy His goodness, I feel less need to give myself glory and more able to give it to Him. The more my heart is satisfied in the love of my Father, the more I can willingly give Him. It doesn’t feel like a chore anymore. And I’m pretty sure the next time I sing that particular song in church, I’ll be able to sing it for real.