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TO WHOM IS THE GLORY
Well, whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, do it all
for God’s glory.
- 1 Corinthians
This is one of
many references we so regularly hear and read that speaks of giving
glory to God. But what does it really mean? What of giving glory to men
- is that okay?
One of the interesting aspects (and dilemmas) we
English speaking people face is the drastic laziness of our language.
By this I mean that in so many cases one word is used to cover a
multitude of words from another language. These words from the other
languages express a whole range of things including ownership and
tense, yet the English language lazily lumps them all together. Take,
for example, the word love: in English we have just this one word which
incorporates at least 14 different Greek words. Sometimes the context
(both in the way it is written and the in the way it is spoken) of the
word may explain the actual intent of the word but often it does not.
So we can be left with a dilemma that we are painting too vague a
picture to those hearing or reading the words that it is open for
So it is with the word glory.
But with this there is an added issue that will come to play when we
utilise the word in our everyday language.
are those who say that, as Christians, glory is due only to God. Whilst
there are passages from the Bible that will support this argument,
there are other passages which shatter the idea completely.
In the first instance, let’s look at a few of the references that
support the argument for glory belonging to God.
“Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your Son,
so that the Son may give glory to you.”
- John 17:1b (GNB)
“Father! You have given them to me, and I want them
to be with me where I am, so that they may see my glory, the glory you
gave me; for you loved me before the world was made.”
- "They were calling out to each other: Holy, holy,
holy! The Lord Almighty is holy. His glory fills the world."
- Isaiah 6:3 (GNB)
continue for some time as both the Old and New Testament are full of
references to glory belonging to God. However, it is interesting to
note that, whilst these refer totally to God’s glory, there is no
mention of it being exclusive.
This glory is rightly His. He
made us: He is our creator. To that end He has a right to claim that
glory. What man has done even a minute fraction of what God has done.
the Bible is also quite clear that man is also entitled to glory. This
comes in two basic ways. The first is the glory that God affords to man.
- "Your Majesty, you are the greatest of all kings. The
God of heaven has made you emperor and given you power, might and glory."
- Daniel 3:37
Daniel here is
talking to King Nebuchadnezzar, interpreting his dream. This is glory
(or honour) that God gives to men. This is not glory that man has taken
upon himself, it is God given. Thus being God given, it shows that man
is entitled to glory because God has given it.
We can also look
back to the beginning and the story of the fall from God’s grace was,
in fact, the withdrawal of mankind having a share in God’s glory, which
foolishly he chose to give away.
There is also the glory that
man gives to man. Again there are many examples throughout scripture.
The following two, from the Book of Proverbs are just two of such
- "Children’s children are the crown of old men: and the glory
of children are their fathers."
- Proverbs 17:6
- "The glory of young men is their strength: and the
beauty of old men is the grey head."
- Proverbs 20:29
As with the
other references, we could spend literally hours going through all such
references throughout the word of God. There is enough material on this
subject to be able to run a full scale Bible study on it for several
What does it all mean. Simply this: that there is a
special glory that is given only to God and that there is a glory which
God has allowed men to receive. Each has their rightful place in the
ever great plan that God has for mankind.
Where the complication
comes in is when pride is mistaken for glory. There appears to be no
place in the Bible where God has said that we may give ourselves glory.
Because there is no reference to this tends to suggest that it is not a
part of God’s plan.
In fact when we realise that such self-glory
is better known as pride, we can find countless references to say that
this is wrong.
- "Pride leads to destruction, and arrogance to downfall."
- Proverbs 16:18 (GNB)
With this in mind, it
leaves but the glory received from others as being the only man-glory
(as well as the God given glory) that is acceptable in the sight of
God. The man-glory is when we reward those in our community for
wonderful things they have done, and in this country of ours I can
think of no group that deserves to be given glory more than the
selfless volunteers we have who give up their time to help others: men
and woman such as volunteer firefighters, community workers (the
genuine variety) and so many other such people. Many of these workers
known only to a few, often only to those they have helped in times of
crisis. These people deserve such glory.
Where does this all
lead? In this day and age there are often some very subtle forces that
run in our community that bring about a degree of pride. I think the U2
song called Pride In The Name Of Love as probably a modern example of
this self glorification that we tend to think is quite okay because the
motives appear to be right.
Sadly this idea is seeping into our
church community and being accepted. There is a tendency to think that
because we are doing things in the name of God, that we can give
ourselves a good pat on the back and say how good we are. On top of
this, church elders (and others) tend not to condemn such behaviour,
thus giving credence to it being okay. Besides, to say something about
this behaviour would probably be labelled as “sour grapes” that it
wasn’t us who was doing it.
I know this in a personal way in two different perspectives.
I know I have been guilty of the self praise aspect within my music
where sometimes I have done things with my praise and worship music
that has not altogether been quite right, simply because there has been
an element of self-pride in what I have done. This is not to say that I
cannot be proud of what I have done. It is how I go about it that is
the issue. If I praise myself, then what is that praise actually worth
- nothing at all. As a musician/songwriter of long standing, I know
just how difficult it can be not to tell people “how good I am” as this
is totally wrong, and it is not the way God wants it to be. I
know, only to well, how fine the line is between self praise and self
promotion. It is so very hard at times.
Today’s Christian music is
also stepping into this minefield and sometimes we see great Christian
musicians, singers and songwriters fall from grace because they become
puffed up with pride. The sad part about it is that we hear their next
release of music and judge it on the name associated with it and not
the content. I recall a few years ago one such Australian who really
had fallen from grace, ultimately being forced out of the music
ministry for a while until he repented, who had two albums in that
period that were “raved” about because it was him. The content of those
albums, in fact, reflected his fall but people did not see it. The
music “sounded good”.
Success has a subtle way of breeding pride.
second area I have found, from experience, is when we are asked to
deliver prophetic messages to others, either individuals or groups,
where the message is informing them that they are out of line with
God’s plan. The immediate reaction of people is that the bearer of the
message is jealous of the success (or whatever) of the recipients of
that message and it’s a part of the great Australian “tall poppy
Bringing such a message to others can be very
disturbing. I am very glad that, up until now, I have never been given
names (though sometimes I have had some idea who it might be) of who
the message is actually for. Which is probably just as well because
some of the messages God has asked me to deliver have been quite harsh,
with warnings of dire consequence to the recipients. The task of
delivering the message is frightening enough because you know that
people are being told they must change their ways. If we also knew who
it was for and named them then (apart from the obvious litigation
aspect in Australia) it would appear to be a personal thing which could
be misconstrued as jealousy.
One reason this latter course is an
issue, is that these people may have somehow or other become puffed up
with pride in what they are doing - and that is not saying that what
they are doing is wrong (though sometimes it can be). What it is saying
is that they have let pride become the driving force behind what they
do and they can, in fact, cause a lot of harm to people because they
become insensitive to God’s leading in what they are doing.
advent of pride we leave ourselves very open to being controlled by the
powers of evil. Satan is so very subtle in how he controls people,
particularly Christians. I mean: “See all the good you are doing with
your talent - if you let people know how good you are, then you will
reach more people.”
Just look at Christ’s own temptation. This was the very approach satan
used with Jesus (see Luke 4:1-13, Matthew 4:1-11).
that subtle approach, satan has got an inside edge into influencing
what you do and you then start to be open to suggestions that will take
you further away from what God has planned.
Now I am not
suggesting that people shouldn’t put themselves “out front” when it
comes to working for Christ. If we took that approach, it could be just
as wrong. What I am saying is that we have to be very mindful of what
and where God wants our plan to go. The person who works anonymously
behind the scenes can be just as important as the person out front
where everyone can see them and vice-versa. If we are where God wants
us to be then we will receive the glory from Him and that is the glory
we need to be always seeking.
When it comes to glory, only that
which God allows from others is what is acceptable in His sight. We
must prayerfully consider our actions, particularly when they do put us
in the spotlight, so that we can know for sure that what we are doing
is truly God’s plan and purpose for us.
Now this doesn’t mean
that we must practice the Gideon or Thomas trick and be constantly
seeking “hard evidence” about what we are doing. Yes, be sure of
things, particularly where the delivery of something special is
involved, before you go about it. I think that if we feel even the
remotest aspect of self-importance about being chosen to do a special
task, then we need to question whether we are the one to do it. We may
well be the one, but it may be satan trying to put a false message into
place that will deceive others into thinking it is the truth so that
they won’t accept the truth when it is finally given.
When there is
going to be some sort of glory involved, first give the glory to God.
Then, if you are entitled to glory, He will most certainly give it back
in ways that you will know are right. When you are faced with such an
issue, take it to others and share it with them with prayer so that
others may be able to encourage you in the Lord about the matter.
leads to destruction, and arrogance to downfall."
- Proverbs 16:18 (GNB)
Be sure that you are not
guilty of not giving the glory where the glory is due and that you are
not guilty of receiving glory that is not rightly yours to receive.
R. J. Burling