The glory of God is a term used in often in the Bible, but it can be difficult to truly understand. What is the glory of God? And what does it really mean to glorify Him in our everyday lives?
I was talking with one of my coworkers about her children behaving at school. She marveled at how well behaved her strong-willed daughter was for her teacher.
“You see, they have this couch in their classroom,” she told me, “and whoever is the best behaved the day before get’s to sit on the couch during story time while everyone else is sitting on their mats. Only one person gets to sit on the couch each day. My daughter would do anything not to sit on the floor; she just lives to sit on the couch.”
Only one person gets to sit on the couch.
You see, the other student’s prize, their award, their glory meant you didn’t get the prize. This interaction got me thinking about glory, and more specifically, about God’s glory.
What is the Biblical meaning of the Glory of God?
Glory. It is a hard term to define. The Bible uses different words to for the word glory in English: but one of earliest ones used is the Hebrew word kabud. It meant heaviness.
Heaviness…like gold and riches and people who had enough to eat in ancient times.
Eventually it came to mean…
But I like the first definition, in its original context: heavy. Glory is feeling the whole weight (the splendor, riches, dignity, reputation,) of who God really is. And the story of the Bible is truly from end to end dedicated to God’s glory.
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When Moses asked God in Exodus 33:18 “Show me Your glory” he wasn’t asking for a glimpse of the vault of heaven or to hear God’s credentials read aloud to him.
He was asking to see God–to see Him for everything He is.
To see all the attributes of God– His greatness, His splendor, His majesty, His perfect holiness, His goodness–is not a light thing.
Remember, only one person gets to sit on the couch. The greatness of God and the holy character of God demand that He is the only one worthy of the real glory.
If that feels a bit egotistical, it’s not. John Piper shares,
“…many Christians think it is good for us to be God-centered, but don’t feel at all comfortable with God being God-centered. We should be Christ-exalting, but Christ shouldn’t be Christ-exalting.”
He goes on to say,
“Does my opposition to God’s God-centeredness reveal that my supposed God-centeredness is just a cover for wanting myself at the center, and the use of God to endorse that because he is so centered on me?”
We humans are so crazy egotistical we can even use the steadfast love of God for us as tools to serve and glorify ourselves. But the bottom line is, we DON’T deserve the glory. Our daily life could never measure up. God is the only One who for all time deserves all the praise and adoration for His beauty, steadfast love, goodness, holiness, infinite worth and weightiness.
God’s glory is costly.
As a wedding present someone gave my husband and I the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace course. If you know anything about Dave Ramsey, he is all about paying off debt and saving money. Relentlessly.
His term for this is “gazelle-like intensity.” Well, after coming home from the “wipeout debt with gazelle-running-from-hungry-lion-intensity” Nate and I did just that. We rarely ate out. We bought the cheapest groceries. We didn’t go to movies. We didn’t buy new clothes or gadgets. We had a few ADHD moments, but in less than a year’s time we were able to become completely debt free! (And remain so to this day, by the grace of God.)
But we couldn’t have financial freedom AND go out to eat every week. We couldn’t lose debt AND go on a shoe-shopping spree.
We had to give up something to gain something.
This is why I believe God’s glory must be a costly thing. To feel all the weight of who He is, all He deserves, all He is worthy of I must also be aware of the weight of who I am, all I deserve, all I am worthy of.
He is Almighty God, Forever strong, Creator of the universe, self-existent, perfect, holy, loving. I am futile, weak, lustful, bent on my own will, hateful, spiteful. He deserves thousands of angels, worlds, peoples singing His praise forever and ever.
Revelation 19:1 says “After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God.”
I don’t deserve any glory.
I deserve an eternity separated from God forever. He is worthy of love, honor, devotion. And I am not. I shouldn’t be sitting on the couch.
There are no exceptions. There is no point in which I’ve earned some glory.
There is no: “Hey, I showed up to church this week. I sponsor a child in Africa. I help out in children’s church. I read my Bible everyday. I listen to Christian music. Maybe I could sit on the couch for a just a little bit. Maybe if I go on a short term missions trip. Or tithe 15% of my income. Or head up VBS this summer.
Then, wow, I would be doing pretty good. Probably I could have a chance to sit on the couch.”
There is no chance I deserve any praise, any glory. Everything I do is tainted by sin.
Only because of the cross and my placing my trust in Jesus’ finished work there am I able to do anything. Even as a Christ follower for close to 30 years, it’s only in God’s strength and by His grace am I able to do any good thing.
God’s glory must cost me something.
God’s glory cost Moses friends. It cost Abraham his home. It cost Joseph his freedom.It cost David years of fighting. It cost Job his family. It cost Jonah his prejudices.It cost Mary her reputation. It cost Peter his livelihood. It cost Paul his safety. It costs many their lives.
How dare I expect it to cost me nothing.
So here is where I am—asking myself:
“What has God’s glory cost me?”
What am I willing to give up or what have I given up that all might know the intense weight of His preciousness? Because only one person gets to sit on the couch.
What does the glory of God mean for me today?
As I have continued to think about the weight of God’s majesty, I don’t think that this question is hypothetical. The apostle Paul tells us in the New Testament, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do–do all for the glory of God.” -1 Corinthians 10:31
God’s glory in my life is all-encompassing. At some point, I truly believe, God’s glory will demand something precious of each of us.
So my question now has been “How can I prepare now, so that when the time comes I am able to give up something costly for God’s glory?”
I think if we look to Moses’ example in Exodus we can gain a few insights on HOW we can come to the point of being able to surrender whatever so that God will receive the maximum glory.
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Above in the Old Testament passage of Exodus 33:18 Moses asked God to “show me Your glory.” If we look ahead to Exodus 34, we can see how God answered Moses request:
“The Lord passed before him…and Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped. And he said, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, O Lord, please let the Lord go in the midst of us, for it is a stiff-necked people, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.”
How Do I Glorify God?
1. Bow and worship.
“Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped…”
See Him for all He is and BASK in His presence. Worship is acknowledging and responding to who God is. You can worship with prayer, with song, with dance, with art or music.
2. Ask for His presence.
“…O Lord, please let the Lord go in the midst of us,…”
I really think this is key: God going with us in the midst of us. Relationship. Everyday. Everyplace.
Not just at church or in our “quiet time.” But a growing awareness of His movement and activity in the nuances of our lives. Living every second in the reality of who He is and that He loves you and wants to be your friend.
3. Recognize our own stubbornness and sin.
“…for it is a stiff-necked people, and pardon our iniquity and our sin,…”
According to Isaiah 64:6 all of us, even us candy-coated church kids are disgusting, filthy, stinking rotting bags of poopy diapers. Or used menstrual pads, if you like a direct translation.
There is no self-medication.
There is no answer apart from Christ’s blood; his blood spilled on the cross in order to cleanse us once and for all from the curse of sin and bring us into a relationship with Him.
“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”
4. Abandon yourself.
“…and take us for your inheritance.”
Let God take you. Surrender to Him. Let Him take the wheel of your life–resist the need to steer where you think you should be going. Abandon yourself to God’s complete control.
Ephesians 1:13-14 “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”
Once an inheritance is given it cannot be taken away. If you are a child of God, He is holding the deed. And He is never letting go.
Only God gets to sit on the couch, friend.
When God asks me to surrender my treasure for His glory, I pray I hear the voice of a friend, the soft whisper of the One I walk with daily, the One I trust implicitly.
Even now as I think of my dearest treasure, my heart constricts, the panic rises, “Please, God, please don’t ask for that.”
In the same breath I panic and I pray… For God in my midst (every single ordinary day), for abandonment of my own glory to His Plan, and for rest in His wisdom and steadfast love: knowing anything His glory might cost me is well worth it.
12 Bible Verses About God’s Glory
Let’s dive a little deeper into the Word of Scripture and what it says about God and His glory and how we can glorify God with our daily lives.
Old Testament Bible Verses about God’s Glory
And the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from within the cloud. -Exodus 24:16
God’s glory here is His presence–all the abundance, riches, dignity, splendor, reverence, and full weight of His holy reputation came near to Israel to enter into a relationship with them.
And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LordAlmighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” -Isaiah 6:3
The angels in the throne room of God proclaim every day how FULL to overflowing creation is with the glory of our holy God.
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. -Isaiah 60:1
God’s glory, Jesus, is promised to shine on Israel and all the world.
New Testament Bible Verses about the Glory of God
The Greek word for glory is “doxa” and it emphasizes God’s splendor and brightness. It describes His magnificence, excellence, preeminence, dignity, grace–His kingly qualities and divine nature.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. -Matthew 5:16
When you act like Jesus–you shine a spotlight on who God is and become part of the process the whole earth is engaged in–glorifying God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. -John 1:14
When we see the beauty and light-filled way Jesus lived–we see God’s glory. As the beloved Son of God He wasn’t just “like God”, He was God and to see the glory of the Son is to see the glory of the Father.
For his invisible attributes, that is, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what he has made. As a result, people are without excuse. -Romans 1:20
The words translated divine nature is the Greek word “doxa” or glory. God’s glory and His divine attributes (the way He IS) are revealed in creation and call us to repent and turn to Him in relationship.
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. -2 Corinthians 4:6
God’s glory was displayed in perfect clarity in Christ Jesus.
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. -Ephesians 1:11-12
Our salvation isn’t because we were special or unique, but God chose us to be His children so that He would receive even more glory.
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. – Colossians 1:27
Christ death and Him living in us gives believers a blessed assurance that we will see the full glory of God in heaven one day.
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. -Hebrews 1:3
Jesus we read again is the image of God come to earth to show us human beings exactly what God and His glory are like.
If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very word of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. -1 Peter 4:11
Peter reminds believers that all spiritual gifts and talents they have are for the praise and glory of God–not for building up themselves.
The city has no need of sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. -Revelation 21:23
God’s glory is the light of the new heaven and the new earth.