Spiritual Growth and Christian Living Resources

How Can Christians Give Glory to God?

How Can Christians Give Glory to God?

I started writing publicly just a couple years ago. I have always put thoughts and prayers into a journal, but as I’ve begun to make my musings available to Google, my heart and mind have waged a war. In the sinful core of my soul, I am a glory hound. I desire the accolade, recognition, and praise that comes from good works, and often have sulked when it is not received. Over time, God’s revealed the internal ties I have to my own conceit and pride. Because I want to be tethered to His goodness and not my own, I’ve had to relinquish the idea of being great. This process, albeit painful to the flesh, has provided a great depth of satisfaction in God and a lot of questions. I’ve often been left wondering what God’s glory actually is, and how we can personally and corporately glorify Him. Over time my answers have narrowed, but first, we must have a generalized understanding of God and His glory.

What Is the Glory of God?

Defining God’s glory is no small task. We understand it when we see it and experience it, but putting God’s glory into a succinct phrase can prove more challenging. Google would define it as “the manifestation of God’s presence as perceived by humans,” but there’s more to it then that. I would add that God’s glory is the description of His character, quality, beauty, name, and being put on display. It’s all of His attributes being seen at once, the effort to put his magnificence into words.

Where Does the Bible Talk About the Glory of God?

God’s glory is seen all throughout the Bible. In every nook and cranny of His word, His glory is on display. However, there are three main texts that help us gain a grander picture of what His glory is and how it impacts us.

First, we see His glory in Isaiah 48:9-11:

“For my name's sake I defer my anger; for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another."

We see this text announcing two things. First, God does not share His glory. He did not put us on earth to glorify us, but rather to glorify Himself through our salvation. It is for His names sake, His praise, and His glory that He withholds His wrath at our sin, and refines us. The fullness of His glory cannot coexist with our sin, as it is a manifestation of His holiness. As we know from the Garden of Eden, there is a boundary placed between God and man (Genesis 1-3). We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God’s standard (Romans 3:23). Our sin separates us from God, letting us see only a glimpse of His glory.

The story of Moses in Exodus 33:18-23 exemplifies this as “Moses said ‘Show me your glory’” or show me your whole self. He is denied this request and granted only a portion of God’s glory because he “cannot see my face, for no one can see me and live” (Exodus 33:20). Our sin is so despicable to God that we cannot not see Him in all His glory without death taking us. This is why we must take the anger of God seriously in Isaiah 48:9-11. God does give eternal consequences for our sin, but in His mercy—and for His glory—He restrains His wrath and provides salvation to His people.

This rescuing from wrath comes from Jesus alone. In Mark 9:2-12 Jesus goes up on a mountain with three of His disciples, “and He was transfigured (changed in form) before them [and began to shine brightly with divine and regal glory]” (Mark 9:2, AMP). Moses and Elijah appear to them in the transfiguration to show that Jesus is God’s glory embodied in human flesh, who fulfills both the Old Testament prophecies and the law. This means that when Jesus was put to death on the cross, He became the final blood offering necessary for our sin.

God deferred His anger towards sin, until all of His wrath was poured out on Jesus. In a sacrificial act of grace and mercy, Jesus unveiled God’s glory by tearing the temple curtain in two—signifying the fulfillment of the law and new access to God—and rising from the grave to defeat sin, Satan, and death. This should leave us both in awe and moved to action.

man marveling in awe at edge of waterfall - god-fearing

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Nakteve

How Do People Give Glory to God?

God’s original design for His people was to reflect His glory—to multiply and fill the earth with His glory. When He first designed humans, He created us with the intent to glorify Himself. Even though humanity has sought its own glory, God’s purpose for His creation is not lost. We are still called to glorify God in all we do and say and become ever more satisfied in God as we do so.

This does not mean that we need to throw God a bone or do Him a favor. God doesn’t lack glory, and He doesn’t need us to fill any void. He created us so that the glory He already had within Himself would be known and praised (Colossians 1:16). For He is infinitely glorious, merciful, holy, gracious, and just within Himself. He does not need us to glorify Him, but chooses to display His glory through us. And it is out of His great love for us, that He allows us to experience and take part in His glory.

How Can Christians Bring Glory to God?

As Christians, we have countless ways to glorify God, but the first must bring us back to the cross. Humanity was made to glorify God through reliance and trust in Him. Instead, we chose to make a name for ourselves and sought our own glory. If we believe in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, then glorifying God always starts with confession and repentance for the ways we seek our own fame, honor, and accolade over God’s. We cannot trust in our own ability, or rely on our own strength, for that defeats the very purpose of how God created us to live. Instead, we offer our whole selves to the Lord through prayer and application of His commands (Luke 9:23-26).

As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10:31, we are to do all things to the glory of God. When we admire nature's beauty, we praise God for His beauty being displayed. When we suffer, we rely on the Lord’s strength, and trust that even in the heartache His discipline grants us more of His glory. When we eat, we thank Him for tastebuds and the divine way that He gave us different flavors. We do all things with praise and awe of who He is and how He works, but ultimately, we treasure Him above all things. We seek to obey the most important commandment—to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind, and love others sacrificially (Luke 10:27).

Jon Bloom in his article How to do Everything to the Glory of God, says it like this:

“God is certainly glorified when we wholeheartedly enjoy the fullness of the earth he created for our enjoyment (1 Corinthians 10:26). Paul was a great advocate for our freedom from all false, legalistic abstinence from food or anything else (1 Timothy 4:1–3). He stated it clearly: 'Food will not commend us to God' (1 Corinthians 8:8). And 'everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer' (1 Timothy 4:4–5). So, Paul would take no offense by our applying 1 Corinthians 10:31 to savoring our pizza — provided that we have not lost sight of the more excellent way of glorifying God: sacrificial love. And this kind of sacrificial love is still needed, maybe especially needed, when it comes to Christian freedoms. For we, too, have our cultural idols, our saints with tender consciences, and our watching unbelievers. So, in 'whatever you do,' do not use your freedom to merely pursue what you feel free to enjoy, but use your freedom to pursue the ultimate spiritual good of your neighbor. As a Christian, you are free from all constraints: the external constraints of false religion and the internal constraints of your selfishness. You are free to enjoy all God has provided, and free to abstain for the sake of love.”

Sacrificial love puts God’s glory on display as it mimics Jesus’ sacrificial love on the cross. Our calling as Christians is make God known. Therefore, we cannot continue to live as we once did —seeking glory for ourselves. We must continually seek to kill the sin within, and “let your light so shine among men that they may see your good deeds and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). We do this by proclaiming His excellencies (1 Peter 2:9), making disciples (Matthew 28:18-20), always being ready to give a defense (1 Peter 3:15), and consistently praying for more laborers (Matthew 9:37-38). So now, let us “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:10-14).

Further Reading:

What Is the Meaning of Shekinah Glory? 

What Does it Mean That God Is the King of Glory?

How Is Jesus the “Glory of God”? 

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Jantanee Rungpranomkorn

Stephanie Englehart is a Seattle native, church planter’s wife, mama, and lover of all things coffee, the great outdoors, and fine (easy to make) food. Stephanie is passionate about allowing God to use her honest thoughts and confessions to bring gospel application to life. You can read more of what she writes on the Ever Sing blog at stephaniemenglehart.com or follow her on Instagram: @stephaniemenglehart.