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What Does It Mean to Glorify God?

Reflections of His Image

For a few months now we have been exploring what it means to reflect Christ—to bear His Image—in all we do. This is God’s purpose for calling us as Christians. I really believe if more of us would learn to glorify God in our actions, there would be a spiritual revival like we couldn’t believe. Everyone would want what we have!

In the Hebrew, the word glorify is kabod; and in the Greek, it is doxazo. Interestingly enough, there are really two different aspects of this word:

First, to glorify means to shine, to demonstrate and to manifest the divine. (Exodus 16:7; 24:16) In other words, glory represents the Lord’s presence.

Throughout Biblical history, God manifested Himself in the Shekinah Glory and He was shown forth in the Pillar of cloud and fire that traveled with God’s people and that rested on Mt. Sinai. (Exodus 24:15-18)

That glory also filled the tabernacle in the wilderness. Listen to Exodus 40:34-35: “Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle.” Often the Shekinah Glory would come at the hour of sacrifice. (See Leviticus 9:6, 23.)

Solomon’s temple was another anointed place where God’s glory permanently dwelt. (See 1 Kings 8:11; 2 Chronicles 7:1-3) His glory could be seen emanating from the temple for miles around. Also, God’s glory could be seen through some of the Old Testament prophets’ visions (Ezekiel 1:28; Isaiah 40:4-5), through Stephen in the New Testament (Acts 7:55), and through storms and other displays of God’s character. (Psalms 19:1-6; 57:11; 96:3; Isaiah 2:10) And, God’s glory is something we will all see when Christ returns. (1 Peter 2:12)

The second aspect of the word glory means to reflect, to show forth, to demonstrate and to express the image of an object or person that it may be seen by all. It means to add something to someone’s character that it, in itself, does not have. In the New Testament doxazo can mean to signify, extol and ascribe honor to. (John 11:4; 12:16, 23; 13:31; Matthew 5:16; 9:8; 15:31; Romans 15:6, 9; Galatians 1:24; 1 Peter 4:16) It is most often used of an external manifestation. According to the Bible, to glorify God means to bring Christ’s innate glory or radiance to light, to manifest it or to reflect it. (John 17:1)

Glory, then, seems to be the vehicle that conveys and reveals the true presence of God. In Scripture, glory means possession of the character, beauty and majesty that belong to the Lord. It means an exact representation of His being. It means reflecting His presence, His essence, His Life and His Name. Thus, to glorify God is to manifest all that God is. It’s showing forth His Self and not our own. (John 14:13; 16:14) It’s His glory brought to light in us. (John 11:4; 17:1, 5)

Jesus is Our Example

In the New Testament, the word glory describes the revelation of the character, nature and presence of God in the Person of Christ. (John 12:28) In truth, Jesus is God’s glory. He is the manifestation of divine glory and He is the express image of God the Father. (Hebrews 1:3; John 17:5; John 1:14; 2 Pet 1:17) He is the “King of Glory.”

Hebrews 1:1-4 expresses it this way: “God, who at sundry times and in diverse manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds; Who, being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and up-holding all things by the Word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.”

Consider also Psalm 24:7-10, which says: “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of Glory.”

During Christ’s lifetime, He manifested the Father’s image perfectly; whether sharing the Father’s Love to the Samaritan woman at the well and His compassion to the children He taught, or His Godly exhortation to His disciples and His rebuke to the Pharisees. In whatever Christ did, He glorified the Father. (John 17:1, 4-5; 13:31; 14:13)

And this is the exact mission and purpose that Christ has for us. We are to glorify Him in all that we do. (John 15:8) “I will glorify Thy Name for evermore.” (Psalm 86:12)

Floodlight Ministry

J. I. Packer, in his book, Keep in Step with the Spirit, relates a very interesting personal story:

“I remember walking to church one winter evening to preach on the words ‘He shall glorify Me,’ seeing the building floodlit as I turned a corner, and realizing that this was exactly the illustration my message needed. When floodlighting is well done, the floodlights are so placed that you do not see them; you are not in fact supposed to see where the light is coming from; what you are meant to see is just the building on which the floodlights are trained. The intended effect is to make it visible when otherwise it would not be seen for the darkness, and to maximize its dignity by throwing all its details into relief so that you see it properly. This perfectly illustrates the Spirit’s new covenant role...

“Think of it this way. It is as if the Spirit stands behind us, throwing light over our shoulder, on Jesus, who stands facing us. The Spirit’s message to us is never look at me...but always look at Him and see His glory.”

Our own Responsibility

Unfortunately, glorifying God doesn’t happen automatically. Just because we are born in the Spirit doesn’t assure us of being able to walk in the Spirit and reflect Him. Just like experiencing His Love in our lives, the ability to glorify God involves a constant choice: to reflect His Life or to glorify self. (Psalm 115:1; John 8:54; Revelation 18:7; Romans 11:13)

Jeremiah 9:23-24 summarizes the choice that is always before us: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches, but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord, which exercise loving-kindness, judgement, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.”

When we choose to adhere to and follow what we want, feel and think over what God has told us to do, we’ll quench His Spirit in us and thus show forth our own image rather than His. (Psalm 81:12) However, we must always keep in mind that “self-image” will never bring anyone to the Lord, never restore any relationships and never heal any marriages. Remember, Jesus in John 5:31 warned us about this when He said, “If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true.” Again, if Jesus says this about Himself, how much more must it be true of us! Only by reflecting and showing forth Christ’s image will others truly be touched, changed, and want what we have.

Therefore, our purpose as Christians is to reflect the Lord, not ourselves. We must learn how to follow His Spirit, be cleansed by His Spirit, filled with His Spirit and then walk by His Spirit, so that we can show forth His likeness to the world, not our own.

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To be continued next month: “What Is an Image?” This article has been excerpted in part from Nan’s new book Reflections of His Image: God’s Purpose for your Life.


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