As a quick recap: the first time I wrote about this topic, I looked at how a passion for the glory of God drove the great men of Scripture to be godly and to accomplish much for His name’s sake. The second time, I wrote about how a passion for the glory of God ought to compel us to be a strong motivator for us to fight sin within ourselves. A question we should ask ourselves is, “What do we value?” The root of sin, ever since the fall, has been the devaluation of God and the overvaluation of sin. Paul writes of unrighteous men, “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” (Romans 1:22-23). In this third and final post in the series, I’m going to apply the same train of thought to the way we act toward others.
We are instructed, “[W]hatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17a). To “do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus” means to do things in a way that is consistent with His person and reputation. For Paul to tell the Colossians this indicates that there are often times when we do not do things in Jesus’ name, which is why he has to specifically instruct us to “set [our] minds” (2:2) on doing things that Christ would do, doing all things in a Christ-like way. This is what Jesus could say about His driving motivation in life: “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38). And as He revealed in His high priestly prayer, He fulfilled God’s will perfectly: “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do” (17:4).
To what end? Why should we strive and labor and struggle to do everything as Jesus would do them? Why does God inspire Paul to write such a thing? I think the answer is clear from the paragraph above: God wants us to be like His Son so that we will glorify Him. Our salvation is “to the praise of his glorious grace” (Ephesians 1:6) and “to the praise of his glory” (1:12, 14). God has saved us so that we might praise Him for the incredible grace He showed us in the crucifixion and resurrection of His Son, and so that we glorify Him by being like Him in the midst of a fallen world. “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36).
This applies to what we do, and the way we interact with other people. God has the potential to be glorified or dishonored by our actions and interactions. Jesus told His disciples, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). And Paul told the Jewish Christians in Rome, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you” (Romans 2:24). What we value, what we prioritize, how we act toward other people, has the very real potential to glorify or dishonor God. People see what we do and ascribe our actions to our Lord. So the question is, what will we do? Will we choose to be loving and gracious, even when it is not easy, or when the person in question has wronged us? Will we be courageous in sharing the gospel, though the possibility of rejection and persecution awaits us? Will we correct other believers who are in error, though they may become frustrated with us, because we want God to be glorified in our obedience and their repentance?
I came across this question at the beginning of the calendar year. It was midterm season, and I was talking to one of my friends about our classes and studying for our exams. She mentioned that she felt like she had to do well in her classes, because if she didn’t, she would feel that she had no semblance of control over her future. I thought about this for a long while, mulling over the truth that we really don’t have any control over our future. (This was largely reinforced by the fact that I had a friend who was diagnosed with cancer just a couple days prior.) So I was confronted with two possible courses of action: to address the error in her thinking, which could lead to a serious theological problem by undermining the sovereign control of God, or to simply continue talking comfortably about our stress over school and other ordinary topics—a particularly appealing choice, since this wasn’t a particularly close friend and I hadn’t had a lengthy spiritual conversation with her.
The governing principle here is ultimately, I think, the question of what I value most. Is it more important to me that I maintain my level of comfort and the continuation of this relationship, or is it more important to me that obey Scriptural commands to admonish one another (Colossians 3:16) so that Christ can be more clearly seen in His redeemed? As I mentioned previously, I use war as my metaphor of choice for this situation. A passion for the glory of God involves fighting ferociously for the glory of God. It involves subjugating our fleshly desires in favor of doing what God wants us to do, the way Jesus would do it. It involves making the conscious decision to forego comfort and the status quo so that we can do what God has said brings Him glory. It is a struggle to put relationships we cherish on the line because we cherish God’s glory even more. Though we love the people we correct or share the gospel with, we love God even more, and thus we make ourselves willing to give them up if that is the cost of glorifying Him.
With those things in mind, I ended up talking to my friend about how the desire to exert control over her life displayed a lack of trust in God’s goodness. She talked to me recently about how she vividly remembers that moment, when I pointed her to Christ and to glorify Him in the way she views her life. When we take a stand for the glory of God, when we choose to prioritize our worship of and obedience to Him over everything else, people notice. Some hate us for it, because it is the antithesis to the sin and darkness they hold dear. Others are encouraged by it, and motivated to do the same with their own lives. But ultimately, we glorify God because He deserves it. He alone is worthy of glory. So may we be believers who are passionate for the glory of God! May we earnestly desire glorify Him, and take great joy in doing so! Let us cry with the psalmist, “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory” (Psalm 115:1a)!