In the United States, and other countries, we tend to place famous people on pedestals. Star athletes, actors, actresses, social activists, and even some religious folk gain our admiration and words of praise. We try to copy their hair styles, dress like them, eat like them, and flock to see them whenever possible. They receive accolades from political leaders and industry giants. All this is true until it comes time to bring them off of their pedestal, either by their own doing or because someone has decided their time is up. Then with unbounded ruthlessness, we tear them down in any way possible, including cruel and unforgiving ways. So much for receiving glory.
Glory — an interesting word which conjures up a variety of responses.
According to dictionary.com, the definitions for this word include:
- very great praise, honor, or distinction bestowed by common consent; renown
- something that is a source of honor, fame, or admiration; a distinguished ornament or an object of pride
- adoring praise or worshipful thanksgiving
These definitions all seem to fit our treatment of famous individuals as I described above. The last of which brings me to the focus of today’s post since glory is a word that is used within the church circles.
Recently this word came up in a discussion with my husband regarding a passage from John 13:31-35. In this passage Jesus speaks about glory. The issue which came up in our discussion centered around the definition of glory. I think most people would assume that this word is to be understood in the church using one of the definitions found above. The problem which arises when we use one of these definitions is that it leads the hearer to the conclusion that we are putting God on pedestal. We are then led to the conclusion that either God is arrogant, as the famous people seem to be when placed on a pedestal, or that God is going to one day be torn down from the pedestal. Both of these conclusions would be absolutely wrong.
Instead, let us look at the theological definition of the word glory as first seen in the Hebrew Scriptures. The Hebrew word often translated as “glory” is “kavod” which means glory, respect, honor, or majesty. The Greek word found in the Christian New Testament is “doxa” which means judgment, opinion, good reputation, or honor. As I understand the word glory in reference to God, I understand it to mean that we are giving respect and honor to God. This to me is much different from placing God on a pedestal.
How do we then show glory to God?
What I am asking here is, how do we show respect and honor to God?
First, I need to ask myself why I should give respect and honor to God. Yes, in Scripture we are admonished to give glory to God but there are many commands and guidance in Scripture which I do not follow closely. (as in, “Then the Lord said to Moses: ‘Take the blasphemer outside the camp. All those who heard him are to lay their hands on his head, and the entire assembly is to stone him. Say to the Israelites: ‘Anyone who curses their God will be held responsible; anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord is to be put to death. The entire assembly must stone them. Whether foreigner or native-born, when they blaspheme the Name they are to be put to death.'” [Leviticus 24:13-16].) The answer for me is I give respect and honor to God because of the great love which God has given to me daily and in the work of Jesus, the Christ.
Now that I have a reason for giving God respect and honor, how do I go about it. The obvious answer is by attending a worship service with fellow believers where I thank and praise God. Unfortunately, this is often where people stop. Somehow we have become content with attending a worship service, giving an hour of our time, and calling that sufficient in respecting and honoring God. I believe that I fall short if this is my only show of respect and honor.
Here is my possible list for respecting and honoring God:
- Respecting and honoring all who God has created
- Taking care of the land and animals which God has entrusted to my care
- Showing love through not just words but also action to those whom God has placed in my life
- Setting aside time throughout my day to reflect upon God
- Striving to understand Jesus’ teachings as given to us through the recording of his words and actions in Scripture
- Making the attempt to apply the teachings of Jesus in my own actions, words, and decisions
- Acknowledging that everything which I have and who I am are gifts from God
These are ways in which I strive to honor and respect God, to give God glory. How are you showing glory to God? What additional ways do you show God respect and glory?
I look forward to hearing from you.