Before Jesus saved me, I lived essentially for my own happiness. I wanted to make myself happy. I never actually said that, but I believe that deep down that was the driving force in my life. I learned to play guitar and got into a rock band because that brought me pleasure. I became an art major in college because painting and drawing made me happy. I wanted a girlfriend essentially for my happiness. And I had no idea how self-centered I was, how selfish I was.
And when I cried out to Jesus, it was initially essentially for my own happiness. For relief from my ever-increasing guilt, and ever-increasing slavery to sin. I didn’t pray, “Jesus, please save me for your glory. I want to live a life to glorify you.”
I’m so grateful God is so longsuffering, loving and patient with me.
Eventually, the more I read and heard God’s word, the longer I followed Jesus, he revealed the main reason he saved me – for his glory. God saves us, yes, because he loves us, and because he is so merciful. But I believe the primary reason he creates us and then saves us is for his glory. And he is not some vain, self-centered God who just wants all the glory. The more we see and know God’s glory and give him glory, the more joy we experience in him.
Our greatest goal in life should be to know and delight in our Lord, and to bring him glory.
Our greatest goal should not be to be successful or famous or rich. Our greatest desire should be to know our God, and to live to serve him and glorify him. As it says in the Psalms:
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness! Psalm 115:1
We should desire to glorify God because he is worthy of all glory and honor
“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” Revelation 4:11
And God tells us in 1 Corinthians:
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (10:31)
So how can we glorify God?
We may think that those who glorify God are those who have extraordinary gifts, maybe like preachers or missionaries or people like Mother Theresa. You may think, “How can I glorify God? I have to drive an hour to work every morning through heavy traffic. I work all day at this boring job. I drive home, and have to take care of my kids (if you have kids) or pay my bills, and clean up the kitchen after supper. I have to cut my grass and pay my bills. My life is ordinary and I’m not some powerful evangelist. How can I glorify God?
God tells us that each one of us can glorify him in numerous ways. Here are some ways every one of us can glorify God.
1. We glorify God by letting our light shine before others
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
We can let our light shine before our unbelieving relatives on holidays, by serving them. By being cheerful. By not grumbling when we don’t get our way. We can let our light shine before our children every day by serving our spouse, and by demonstrating thankfulness, patience, love, forgiveness.
We can let our light shine before our co-workers by not joining in with office gossip and grumbling about our boss. By looking for ways to serve our fellow workers. By seeking to be the most cheerful person in the office.
2. We glorify God by participating in advancing the gospel
We are not all called as evangelists, but we can all share in the advance of the gospel. One way is by praying that God will bring his kingdom to the earth, to this nation, to your town. Hopefully your church proclaims the gospel. By welcoming new people, giving to the church, and serving in the church’s ministries, you help advance the gospel. You can advance the gospel by serving in your church’s children’s ministry or teen ministry. You advance the gospel by serving on the worship team as you sing of God’s power and glory. You help advance the gospel by serving on the projection team as you project Scriptures during the message.
We can pray that God will raise up laborers for the harvest. There are many ministries that help the poor and share the gospel with those they help. By supporting these ministries we help advance the gospel
3. We glorify God by working heartily at whatever we do
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24
When Paul exhorted his fellow believers to work heartily, he was primarily addressing “bondservants” to serve their masters heartily. But ultimately they were serving the Lord and that he would reward them. They may not have felt like they were glorifying God, but Paul said they were. They would bring glory to God by working heartily as bondservants, even though they may not have chosen to do that or desired it.
You may be stuck in a job you don’t like, but you can glorify God by doing your work heartily for the Lord, and not for your boss. And Jesus will reward you.
4. We glorify God by giving him thanks and praise
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. Psalm 86:12
We don’t need to be in church to give thanks to God. We can thank him in the car, in our kitchen, on the way to class. We can thank him when we wake up in the morning for the gift of sleep and his protection during the night. We can thank him for the sunrise. For our health. For every heartbeat and every breath he gives us.
5. We glorify God by worshipping him together with others
Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together! Psalm 34:3
Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders. Psalm 107:32
I will thank you in the great congregation; in the mighty throng I will praise you. Psalm 35:18
6. We glorify God by doing good deeds
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
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 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 5:14-16
Our unbelieving relatives, neighbors, fellow students, and co-workers are watching us. They want to see if Jesus has really changed us. There are all kinds of ways we can do this. It might be as simply as offering to get your neighbor’s mail when they’re out of town. Or going over and helping your neighbor shovel his driveway after a snow. Do whatever good you can, serve others whenever you can, not in order to earn salvation, but because Jesus has saved you and changed you.
7. We glorify God by trusting him and persevering in trials
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. Psalm 37:5
It is so hard to continue to trust God when we or a loved one is suffering. But when we trust that God is good, loving and faithful, when we trust that he will keep his word, that brings him glory. Especially when in his timing, he acts and keeps his promises.
I know many believers who have suffered greatly, yet they have continued to worship God, believe his word, and live for him. This brings him so much glory. It is easy to praise God and thank him when we experience his blessings; but it takes such great faith and honors God so much to praise and worship him when we can’t see the answers. For all you who are trusting him in the midst of darkness and pain, know that you are bringing glory to God.
8. We glorify God by turning away from sin
Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sine a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:18-20
Paul told the Corinthians to “flee from sexual immorality.” In this way each one was to “glorify God in your body.” We glorify God by living holy lives. By fleeing sin.
9. We glorify God by serving others
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 4:11
When we serve others, we do it by “the strength that God supplies” – and that brings him glory. I don’t have a natural inclination to serve others. I want to serve myself. But God calls us all to serve. So I must ask him for strength and desire, which he always gives me. Jesus humbled himself and came as a servant (Philippians 2), and when we serve others, we imitate Christ and bring glory to God.
10. We glorify God by bearing fruit.
By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. John 15:8
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
As we live for Jesus, the Holy Spirit produces fruit in our lives. We don’t do it ourselves; the Holy Spirit does it in us and with us as we seek to obey Jesus. And Jesus said in John 15:8 that as we bear fruit it glorifies the Father, because people see that it is God who really did that in us.
As we grow in love, and kindness and gentleness and all the fruit of the Spirit the Father is glorified. We prove to be Jesus’ disciples and he is glorified.
11. We glorify God by being generous to the poor
He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, theyf will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 2 Corinthians 9:10-13
Paul told the Corinthians that their “sowing” to the poor believers in Macedonia would “produce thanksgiving to God” and was “overflowing in many thanksgivings to God,” and the recipients would “glorify God” because of their generosity.
Let us all make it our goal in life to glorify God every day, in everything we do, in any way we can. God loves to use us weak vessels for his glory. In fact the weaker you feel, the more glory God will get when he uses you to bring glory to himself.