How We May Glorify God
Christians have long understood that we exist for the glory of God. That our purpose in life is found in our Maker and Redeemer. The well known Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it this way:
Q: What is the chief end of man?
A: Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. (WSC Q.1)
The chief end of every person, the purpose behind their being, is to glorify and enjoy God. But what does it mean to glorify God?
The glory of God is often described as his “brightness,” or his “weightiness,” his “supremacy” or his “holiness.” I believe it is helpful to think of the glory of God as his beauty and preeminence. His glory is all that he is on display. We cannot add to God’s glory but we can reflect, or magnify, his glory in our lives, and this is what we are called to do throughout Scripture. The Apostle Paul puts it in the most practical way possible when he says, "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31). But how do we actually do this?
The old Baptist Catechism for Girls and Boys addresses this simply by explaining:
Q. How can you glorify God?
A. By loving him and doing what he commands.
This is a biblical and helpful answer for children to grasp. But there’s more to it than this. Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "Man's Chief End," broke down into four ways how we glorify God. What he has given there gives great direction to everyone in this regard:
We glorify God through:
1. Appreciation. Watson first explained that to glorify God is to “set God highest in our thoughts, and, to have a venerable esteem of him.” We glorify Him when He is exalted in mind and heart; when we find Him to be greater than all things created or imagined. He is glorified in us when we admire Him for His person, work, and promises (Psalm 92:8; 97:9).
2. Adoration. Watson then goes on to speak to the worship of God. He is glorified in us when we ascribe worth and praise to Him; when we worship Him in spirit and truth, according to His prescribed methods. “Divine worship must be such as God himself has appointed… Surely here every thing must be according to the pattern prescribed in his word.” Yes, gathering with the church on the Lord’s Day is one of the primary ways we glorify God, but this feeds into both private and family worship as well (Ps. 29:1, 2).
3. Affection. We glorify God when we love Him. The love a Christian has for God is born of the Spirit and flourishes in faith. It is only small when our faith is small. God is glorified in us when our love for Him is true. “This love is exuberant, not a few drops, but a stream.” (Deut. 6:5)
4. Subjection. We glorify God when we obey Him out of a sense of love. “This is when we dedicate ourselves to God, and stand ready, dressed for his service.” God is glorified in us through good works done in faith. He is pleased with such works, not because they are prefect, but because they are the fruit of faith and are perfected by His Son (1 Cor. 10:31; Jn. 15:8-10).
I’ve added, to this short list, one more way in which we glorify God.
5. Proclamation. I’ve added this to Watson’s list, because, in my mind, it is worthy own place. God is glorified in us when we testify to his person, work, and worthiness in our words. In sharing the gospel, bearing witness to his grace on our lives in all its forms, and confessing his sufficiency in our afflictions all reflect God’s greatness. (1 Pet 2:9)
How may we glorify God? In many ways, at all times. In our vocation and recreation, in days of peace and days of persecution, in the valley of the shadow of death and in the pastures of comfort, we are created and called to glorify and enjoy God.