Chapter 5. Ways in which God can be glorified today
God has not left us in the dark as to ways in which we He can be glorified today. Some of the ways in which His people have glorified Him in the past, such as praying that He would be glorified, are still to be used today. In this chapter, we will look at ways in which the Bible explicitly says God can be glorified today.
By receiving answers to prayer
Passages in both testaments show the connection between answered prayer and glorifying God. “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”” (Psalm 50:14–15, ESV) In the preceding verses of this Psalm the Lord reprimanded His people for having a wrong attitude toward Him. They had lost sight of the awesome nature of the God, while merely paying Him lip service. They needed to offer sacrifices out of hearts of gratitude because every good thing which they possessed came from Him. They needed to fulfill the vows they had made because of the nature of the One to whom they had made their vows. They needed to call upon the Lord (rather than looking elsewhere) in their time of trouble. In short, they needed to treat Him as their God. In response, He would deliver them, and as a result of that deliverance, they would glorify (praise) Him.
In the Upper Room Discourse, Jesus told His disciples, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:13–14, ESV) Asking for something “in Jesus’ name” almost certainly means making the request with the authorization of Jesus, or asking according to His will. For our present purposes, the interesting thing is that Jesus says that He will do what is asked “that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” The point seems to be that if people make requests of Jesus which He grants, the Father would be praised, honored, because of the Son’s connection to Him. Throughout His ministry, Jesus was always bringing glory to His Father. This would continue after His ascension. The point is that when God’s people receive what they request in prayer, they (should) respond by glorifying (praising) God.
By thanking God for His blessings
“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”” (Psalm 50:23, ESV) This verse follows up on verses 14-15, which were quoted in the previous section on receiving answers to prayer. Here, however, the statement is applied to any situation in which one has experienced God’s goodness (without reference to whether it is as an answer to prayer or not) and thanks Him for it. God is glorified when His people thank Him because in doing so they give Him the credit He deserves for His blessings.
By doing deeds that reflect God’s character
The Bible suggests many ways in which we can, and should, live so that God would be glorified by our behavior. Both Jesus and Peter state the general principle which teaches this. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16, ESV emphasis added) In similar words, Peter wrote: “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:12, ESV emphasis added) Opinions differ about the meaning of “the day of visitation.” In any case, the point is we are to behave in a way that shows the resemblance between our lives and the character of our God and Father, with the result that He will get the credit (glory), for our good behavior. John records Jesus using different terms but conveying the same meaning when He says, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:8, ESV) As we live godly lives, bearing much fruit, knowledgeable people will see the similarity between our lives and the life of Jesus and give God credit (glory) for what they see.
By growing in love with knowledge and discernment
The Apostle Paul prayed that the Philippians would experience spiritual growth, intellectually and behaviorally, in order that God would be glorified. He wrote, “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9–11, ESV) It is interesting that when Paul states the end of the growth for which he prays, it is not just that the Philippians would be better people, intellectually and behaviorally, but that God would receive glory and praise (again this is probably a hendiadys to emphasize the point).
By using our spiritual gifts in a God-honoring way
As part of a little paragraph which deals with miscellaneous instructions about matters of Christian behavior, Peter includes some instructions about the use of spiritual gifts, abilities. He divides them into two categories: speaking and serving gifts. He writes, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:10–11, ESV emphasis added) By calling the abilities “gifts,” he expresses the fact that those abilities have been given to people by God. That being the case, the recipients have a responsibility to God to be good stewards of what He has given them. Peter elaborates on how we are to do this. If we have a speaking gift, we are to use it to speak words God would want us to speak. If we have a serving gift, we are to use it to accomplish what God would want done (because He is the one who is providing the strength for the task). In both cases, the recipient is to remember that the gifts come by way of God’s grace, so He deserves (and should be given) all the credit, the glory.
By living in harmony with one another
“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.”” (Romans 15:5–9, ESV)
By using our wealth in a way that honors the Lord
The Bible makes it clear that we can, and should, glorify God by the way we handle our finances. “Honor [Hebrew “glorify”] the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce.” (Proverbs 3:9, ESV emphasis added) “In Israel, honoring the Lord with … the firstfruits of all one’s crops was a way of expressing gratitude to Him for His provisions (Deut. 26:1–3, 9–11). It was a way of acknowledging God and His help (Prov. 3:6). “ In other words, give God credit for giving you the wealth that you have and for giving you the firstfruits of the harvest, which is both an expression of thanks for what has been received and an expression of faith that He will supply the rest of the harvest. The manner in which one was to honor or glorify the Lord with one’s wealth undoubtedly included what was stated in another passage in Proverbs as well. “Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors [Hebrew “glorifies”] him.” (Proverbs 14:31, ESV) Proverbs also explains why the way one treats the poor will either insult or honor the Lord. “To take advantage of poor people is like sinning against God (cf. 17:5) since God is the Maker of all people (cf. Job 31:13, 15) and because He defends the cause of the poor (Prov. 22:22–23).”
The New Testament also bears witness to the fact that the use of finances can bring glory to God. Part of Paul’s purpose in writing 2 Corinthians was to encourage the Corinthian believers to do their part in adding to a collection that was being taken for the Christians in Jerusalem who were suffering from a famine. After mentioning that he was sending an unnamed brother to be part of the group that would take the collection to Jerusalem, Paul adds: “And not only that, but he has been appointed by the churches to travel with us as we carry out this act of grace that is being ministered by us, for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our good will.” (2 Corinthians 8:19, ESV) In other words, the goal for taking this collection and delivering it to Jerusalem was two-fold: It would both glorify God and show the good will which the believers in Europe had toward their brothers and sisters in Jerusalem. It would glorify God by showing the love God had placed in the hearts of the mainly Gentile believers in Europe for the mainly Jewish believers in Jerusalem. God deserved the credit for developing this love in their hearts.
By suffering for Christ without shame
An unexpected way in which we can glorify God is by the attitude we have when we experience persecution because of our faith. As he addressed believers who were suffering, Peter wrote, “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.” (1 Peter 4:16, ESV) I think the NET Bible’s translation makes the meaning of the verse plainer: “But if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but glorify God that you bear such a name.” (1 Peter 4:16, NET) If that interpretation is correct, the idea is that we should praise God because we have the honor of being called Christians. The early Christians seem to have had that attitude. After being beaten and forbidden