The succinct, simple and direct mandate of Scripture is that "whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor 10:31). All of God’s creation is to be absorbed with putting the glory of God on display. When the angels announced the Savior’s birth, they were joined by the heavenly host, glorifying God (Luke 2:14). The shepherds responded by glorifying God following their visit to the Christ-child in the manger (Luke 2:20). Even the physical creation incessantly declares His glory (Ps 19:1-2).
While the importance of this mandate is not lost on most Christians, its fulfillment frequently is. We heed lip-service, often closing our prayers of petition with, “and we’ll be sure to give you all the glory.” But when the answer comes, we, much like the nine lepers, are often so elated that we fail to make good on our promise.
How can we follow the example of creation or join in the chorus with the shepherds and the heavenly host in glorifying God? The answer, I believe, is found in Exodus 33:18-34:8. When Moses asks to see the glory of God, God puts His glory on display by rehearsing His attributes, and thereby demonstrates how we can give God the glory that belongs to Him. Here are six ways you can put the glory of God on display:
1. Confess sin
When we confess sin, we are putting on display His glory by declaring His righteousness. That is David’s point in Psalm 51:4: “Against You, You only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when you judge.”
2. Forgive others
Our God is a forgiving God (Ps 130:3-4; Mic 7:18-19). When we forgive others, we are proclaiming His compassion and eagerness to forgive. It has been said that we are never more God-like than when we forgive. That is why the Lord places so much emphasis on forgiving others in the disciples’ prayer (Mt 6:12, 14-15). Forgiving others puts His glory on display.
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3. Trust God
If God does all things for our good (and He does), then demonstrating our trust in Him puts His nature and character on display. We reflect who He is. The life of Abraham provides a remarkable example of this. Romans 4:20 notes that, “with respect to the promise of God, Abraham did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God.” At the end of his life, Paul recounts how the Lord stood with him, strengthened him, and rescued him from every evil deed, and concludes that the Lord will bring him safely to his heavenly kingdom, to Him be the glory forever and ever (2 Tim 4:17-19). Trusting God declares His glory.
4. Produce fruit
Jesus says: “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit” (John 15:8). Living a life that adorns God’s attributes puts His glory on display. When His communicable attributes are reflected in our lives, it not only produces fruit, but it glorifies God.
5. Give thanks
Psalm 50:23 says, “He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving glorifies Me.” Expressions of gratitude to God sets His glory on a pedestal. Thanksgiving directs our focus on the One who is the Giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). First Thessalonians 5:18 reminds us of God’s sovereign orchestration of all of life for the believer (cf. Rom 8:28). Thanksgiving acknowledges that and thereby reflects His glory.
Like giving thanks, prayer shines the spotlight on God’s attributes of goodness and omnipotence. The Lord encourages and invites us to, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble and I will rescue you and you will glorify me” (Ps 50:15). In John 14:13 He adds, “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
Glorifying God is not a memorized mantra of special words or phrases. Rather, it is a life that reflects the attributes of God, a lifestyle that is consumed with putting His glory on display. Like a city built on a hill or a lamp set on a lampstand, glorifying God entails letting the light of the attributes of God shine before men so that others will join with us in glorifying our Father in heaven (Matt 5:14-16).
For more on everything from hermeneutics to homiletics, see our guide: Handling Scripture.
To God be the Glory!