In the Church, we often throw around the word “glory” as if everyone already knows what we’re talking about. We read Bible verses and sing all kinds of songs about glorifying God. We even say, “all glory to God” when something good happens. So, what does it look like to glorify God, practically?
I think it helps to first think about ways people glorify earthly things.
For example, I have a friend who glorifies travel. She’s always planning her next trip. I know where she is because I see all her travel pictures on social media. When she comes home, she regales me with stories of her travels: where she stayed, what she ate, where she shopped. Essentially, she’s praising and honoring the most recent country she’s visited. She’s lifting up her travel and making it glorious to me, showing me all its splendor.
Maybe you have friends who glorify political leaders, and some who glorify social causes. Others glorify their careers, their children, or their financial standing. No judgment here. All of us are busy glorifying something other than God in ways big and small.
Yet Jesus-followers are not made to spend their time seeking after their own personal glory, or the glory of another person or thing. No, we are made to glorify God and proclaim His Salvation to a lost and dying world. Here are just a few ways the Bible tells us to glorify God:
“Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!” (1 Chronicles 16:24, ESV).
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16, NIV).
“My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples” (As told by Jesus in John 15:8, CSB).
If we know how to glorify travel, social causes, our children, and work, shouldn’t we glorify God even more among the nations?
Here's a short story of an ordinary Christian who practiced declaring God’s glory with intention. As you read her story, notice the simple, practical actions she took that brought glory to God.
Kate needed a new doctor, so she purposefully selected a woman with a name that hinted she might be from another culture. Driving to her exam, Kate prayed the Lord might open doors for her to glorify Him.
When the doctor came into the exam room, she made small talk. “How did you hear about me? What do you do for a living?” Kate worked in sales, yet she didn’t mention that. Instead, she told her doctor that she was excited to be teaching English as a second language to a family of Syrian refugees.
Curious, her doctor asked how she got involved in that work. Her question was the door-opener Kate had prayed for.
“I’m a follower of Jesus, and He put His love in my heart for Muslims,” Kate responded.
The doctor grew quiet. Then she surprised Kate when she admitted, “I’m Muslim from Syria. If anyone should be doing this kind of work, it’s me. I wish my faith was strong like yours.”
Kate responded with empathy and the conversation grew deep quickly. Kate sat there in her flimsy paper gown and told her doctor the good news about Jesus. It ended with Kate praying together with her doctor, in Jesus’ name.
“It was a holy moment,” reflects Kate. “My doctor didn’t accept Jesus on the spot, yet I knew that I’d glorified the Lord. I felt privileged to have the conversation.”
What are you glorifying?
It’s nearly impossible to point others to the Lord when you’re not first awe-struck by God’s glory yourself. So, start by seeking the Lord’s glory. Sing songs praising His glory. Read the Bible and ruminate over passages about His glory. Borrow and pray Moses’ prayer in Exodus (see Exodus 33:18 ESV).
Don’t stop until you become awestruck over God’s glory. It’s only then that you’ll relish the joy and privilege of sharing the gospel with others because it will bring God more glory. And bringing God more glory will bring you more glory and joy.