“To the glory of God” – meaning?

It’s a familiar phrase, isn’t it, that what we do is to “God’s glory.” It was to Jesus too, as in John 14:13, when he said, “I will do whatever you ask in my name so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.” And in John 17:4, when praying to his Father, “I have brought you glory on earth.” 

And the purpose for us being “the first to hope in Christ,” Ephesians 1:12, is “for the praise of the Father’s glory” too. We get the point, that what the Father accomplished for us humans in his Son makes him justifiably glorious. “To the praise of his glorious grace” in verse 6, summarizes our existence as humans and Christians perfectly. 

But is “glory” only defined by God’s greatness and grace? Or is there another meaning to the word “glory”?

Yes, there is, in English too, because when we “glory” in something, like a child’s first steps or first words, or the growth of our kids into strapping, powerful men, or into beautiful, skilled women – there’s something else we mean, isn’t there? It means we’re “getting huge pleasure” out of something, like rousing music, or learning a skill, or being fit, or overcoming a bad habit. 

Apply that meaning, then, to “God’s glory,” and it comes out as doing what we do for his pleasure. And it’s spot on biblically too, because Ephesians 1:4 tells us he adopted us as his children “in accordance with his pleasure,” and in verse 9, “he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure” too. God does things for us because it gives him great pleasure doing so. 

So, what if what we do is for the same reason – knowing that what we’re doing, thinking and saying, gives him great pleasure? We have that power, so to speak, to make God extremely happy. I love the bit in the movie, Chariots of Fire, when Eric Liddle is thundering round the 400 metres final in the 1924 Olympic Games, arms flailing, head back, and we hear his voice saying, “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure.”

I bet Jesus felt his Father’s pleasure too, when he heard a voice saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” in Matthew 3:17. Can we “hear” him saying the same thing of us, then? Yes, we jolly well can, because in Jesus’ words, “He who loves me will be loved by my Father,” John 14:21. When we’re obeying anything Jesus taught, the Father’s doing cartwheels.  

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