Living for God’s glory instead of our own does not sound fun to us. But friends, we’re not living for our own glory. We WANT to live for our own glory, but wanting anyone’s will done in our lives and in others’ lives is living for our own glory. I never once thought about my purpose to give God glory until I had been in a church setting for over 20 years. I had never heard of such a thing. I don’t think most people have either, even people who have been Christians their whole lives. I believed Jesus died for me, but I didn’t think much further than that. I was mostly scared into believing because I didn’t want to face the reality of life apart from God for eternity. I wanted Jesus for what He could do for me on my terms, and therefore that wasn’t translated into my giving him glory.
God created us for His glory. When we only focus on what God does for us, we’re completely missing what God created us to do. “Thus says the Lord, “Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory” (Isa. 43:6–7). When we focus only on what God can do for us, we aren’t giving Him glory like we were created to do. We’re making it about we can get from God, instead of praising him for who He is.
What does it mean to live for our own glory? It can be done in so many ways, but summed up basically as more focused on building our own kingdoms or lives than God’s. We’re more focused on building our family, career, status, money than we are focused on building God’s glory. Enjoying these things God has given us is something God wants us to do, but his glory and building his kingdom should be our first priority.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines glory as “worshipful praise, honor, and thanksgiving.” Our glory should naturally flow from us as our expression of thanks, gratitude, and wonder at what He’s done and at who He is. Giving God glory should flow out of every part of our lives. It can be from how we talk about him, trying to live a life of obedience to him, traditional worship, serving and loving people, and putting other people before ourselves. There is no single or right way to bring glory to God — it is something we can do with our whole lives.
God doesn’t NEED us to do anything for him. He is perfectly capable of doing everything himself. But we were created by Him to do something specific, and that is to bring him glory. And ENJOY bringing Him glory. God doesn’t need us to DO anything for him, but when we glorify him we’re both doing our created purpose and enjoying him at the same time. After all, you can only enjoy something you’re praising. God doesn’t want us to sit around giving him glory out of obligation, He wants us to enjoy it and have it flow from our love for Him.
If we don’t want to give God glory, we need to examine our hearts. If we don’t think God is worthy of our praise and worship, why do we call him our God? If we call him our God, we should give Him praise and glory, otherwise we don’t actually hold him as our God. If you don’t want God’s will done, you want your will done. If you don’t want God’s will done, you don’t truly revere him as Lord.
God wants us to come to him with our needs and desires, and he wants to bless us, but we can’t stop there. When we stop there we make it all about us, when it should be all about him, because he is god and we are not. And yet he still chooses to be with us.
“A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Mark 1:40 We so often live for our will and our own glory. But look at how the leper speaks to Jesus. He doesn’t describe his need. He doesn’t even ASK to be healed. He said if you are WILLING, you CAN make me clean. This is how we should pray, and this is how we should live: “If you’re willing, you can __________.” When we have a correct view of God, we are so in awe of him that we acknowledge his ability to do anything like the leper, but give him our submission to do so. God can of course do what he wants, but we live like we can have our own way. And worse, we live like we SHOULD have our own way.
God is inviting us to himself to enjoy his glory. When we give him glory instead of ourselves, we actually gain more than we ever can imagine and can leave behind the sin our lives are held down by. Holding on to our own glory limits us from enjoying his glory, his greatness. When we give him glory, we begin to be able to enjoy Him as we were created to. If we want our glory, we get ourselves and our pain. If we choose his glory, we get Him.