Whose Glory?

We do everything for a purpose. One common goal is to make ourselves look good. We act in order to impress others. In Jesus’ words, we “receive honor [glory] from one another…” (John 5:44). That is why many religious - and even most non-religious – folk do charitable deeds “to be seen” by other people (Matthew 6:1). Jesus rebukes that type of behavior and urges His disciples to help others in secret, so that only God will see. Does that conflict with His teaching that we should do good works so that others will glorify God? No! God alone deserves glory. As creator, sustainer, and judge of this world, He expects us to give all honor and praise to Him. Instead, says Paul, men “did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful” and “worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator…” (Romans 1:21,25). As the Westminster Catechism rightly says, “The chief end [goal] of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” One way we do that is by performing works that reflect the character and will of God. That is what Jesus did when He healed the sick, who – along with the crowds - almost always responded by praising God (Matthew 9:8; etc.). Another way is to do our good works “so that” – or, “in such a way that” God the Father is glorified. In other words, we imitate the goodness of God in our conduct in such a manner that those around us end up praising Him. We don’t have to be rude and refuse all appropriate compliments, but we should receive praise humbly and, when possible, give direct glory to our Father. That means that we shall have to let them know that we trust in God as our “Father in heaven” through Jesus His Son. We must also speak and act in such a way that we refer all praise to God. When the crowds thought that the apostles had worked a miracle by their own power, they were quick to give all the credit to God (Acts 3:12; 14:8-18). Finally, when we serve our Lord, we must either speak His words or rely on His strength, “so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:10-11).