We humans typically get it all wrong. We look to other humans — great athletes, Hollywood actors, and other celebrities — and we glorify them. But this is a misplaced emphasis. Writing to people with giftedness in spiritual things, the apostle Paul reminded them, “What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?” (1 Corinthians 4:7, NLT).
The writer of the psalm had the right perspective. He said, “Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory.” It’s not wrong to appreciate great skills, whether they be in science, sports, literature, or any wholesome endeavor. But the wise person realizes and acknowledges that all such talents come from God — “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from [God] the Father” (James 1:17). So the right response is, in the words of the great hymn, “To God Be the Glory.”
Even in seemingly secular pursuits, we see God granting skills and knowledge. For example, speaking of the captive Daniel and his three young companions in Babylon, the Scripture says that “to these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning” (Daniel 1:17).
I’ve taken time at the start to emphasize this fundamental point: all glory, including honor and praise for good things done on this earth, belongs to Almighty God, the giver of life and of all blessings. So who gets the glory? To God be the glory! “Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory.” The great prophet Isaiah likewise emphasized this: [God speaking] "I am the Lord. That is my name! I will not yield my glory to another" (Isaiah 42:8).
King David is widely held to be ancient Israel’s greatest king. Yet this highly honored man had the right outlook. He humbly prayed that God (not David) would be the One exalted in the earth: “Be exalted, O God … let your glory be over all the earth.”
A young man came up to a pastor friend of mine and said that he was having trouble with pride. The pastor candidly replied to him, “Why? What do you have to be proud about?” Yes, the answer was frank, maybe even a bit brusque. But there was truth in the pastor’s answer. If the young man was struggling with pride over some seemingly praiseworthy skill or accomplishment, where should the praise and glory for that be directed? Not to the young man, but to God the giver of our gifts, skills, and abilities. As the apostle Paul said (above), “What do you have that God hasn’t given you?” The praise, honor, and glory belong always to God, not to us.
This is an astounding verse! The Lord’s Church on earth has the high privilege of working in conjunction with Jesus Christ for the purpose of bringing glory to God. The Father is to be glorified not only in and by His Son Jesus Christ, but also by His beloved Church on this earth.
The Lord’s Church — which is His people and the many local congregations throughout the world — has the high and holy calling of being an instrument to bring glory to God. We can do this in many and varied ways. For example, believers can glorify God by pointing lost souls to salvation through God’s Son Jesus Christ. We can bring glory to God by ministering healing in Jesus’ name to the sick and infirm. We can glorify God by living a visible, God-centered life of good works in the sight of those around us (Matthew 5:16) and in a host of other ways. The key is that all we say or do will have the ultimate purpose of pointing others to God and His Son Jesus.
Remember reading above that God is to be glorified “in the church and in Christ Jesus”? How does that work? Well, we see in Hebrews 1:3 that Jesus “the Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.” Jesus came to earth and precisely and accurately manifested to the world the glory and greatness of God the Father. He “exactly” represented God and His glory, His holiness, His perfect and blameless character, His infinite wisdom, His unsurpassed love, and more.
So we have the great privilege of sharing the Gospel with the world and pointing them to the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And as we do that, people are drawn to God through the glory they see revealed in His Son. This is perfectly in line with Christ’s own words: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Don’t become nervous about the “how” of sharing your faith with others. Simply tell them about Jesus, God’s Son, how He came to earth and died for our sins and rose again, thereby opening the way for us to be saved and become sons and daughters of God, and looking forward to a glorious eternity with Him.
So we can glorify God by sharing the truth about Jesus Christ with the world. How else? In the words of Jesus, by bearing much fruit. This can be done in two ways: (1) we can allow the Holy Spirit to develop Christlike character within us. The Bible calls this the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23). And (2), as already mentioned, we can bear fruit in the sense of other people whose lives we touch favorably by sharing Jesus Christ with them. Both the inward fruit of the Spirit in our lives and the outward fruit of souls won to the Lord bring glory to God: “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit.”
We have multiple opportunities to fulfill this calling, that is, “that God in all things may be glorified.” Our words (“if any man speak”) can be vessels to honor the Lord, if we always remember that we are speaking and representing Him “as the oracles of God.”
Our ministries, our labors for Him, can glorify God to the extent that we always minister “as of the ability which God giveth” and take zero credit for ourselves. And in any and every thing (“in all things”), by keeping our focus Godward and not self-centered, we can be vessels of honor to the Lord.
Keep a God-glorifying attitude in the events of each day. Take to heart the exhortation of the apostle Paul, in whatever God leads you into today: “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:23, KJV).
This is a good verse to close a message about God receiving all glory. Here the apostle Paul takes us through to the culmination of end-time events, to the point where God the Father has “put everything under his [Jesus the Son’s] feet.” Truly we can echo the words of Peter that “Jesus Christ: he is Lord of all” (Acts 10:36, KJV). And in its fullest sense we will see the fulfillment of Christ’s words that “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me [to Jesus]” (Matthew 28:18).
But this verse goes on to reveal an astounding thing, a thing that reveals the ultimate fulfillment of the divine intent that God the Father be glorified. We see “the Son himself…made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God [the Father] may be all in all.” In the eternal wisdom of the triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), both the Church and Jesus the Son of God are dedicated to bringing the highest honor and glory to God the Father. And in the ultimate of it all, we see even the divine, co-equal Son Jesus willingly submitting all back to the Father, so that “God may be all in all.”
Church, be thrilled with your high privilege of working in concert with Jesus Christ, God’s Son, to bring glory and honor and praise through the Son to the Father. The preacher I heard years ago may have been correct when he suggested that this is the ultimate purpose of God — that God in all things will be glorified. Be blessed to have a part, along with our Savior Jesus, in bringing glory to God the Father.
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©2017, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.