My wife and I ask our kids often: “Why did Jesus come to us?” They gives us great answers:
- To give us new hearts
- To die for our sins
- Because He loves us
- To be our King
These are answers most of us would give as well. And they’re not wrong. But when it comes to announcing the birth of Jesus, the angels wanted to make it noted first and foremost that Jesus comes for another reason: to bring God great glory.
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14)
The Primary Purpose of Jesus’s Life
We like to think the gospel is about us, but in truth, Jesus’s arrival was primarily about bringing glory to God. We might nod our heads in agreement to that statement, but have we stopped to give real thought to what that means?
Jesus’s primary purpose in life here on earth was to bring God glory. Jesus makes this clear when he says in John 17:4,
“I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.”
Jesus came to give glory to God.
The Primary Purpose of Our Lives
Bringing God glory is our purpose in life as well.
Isaiah 43:7 says,
“Everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”
Bringing God glory is what we were created for, and yet we don’t. Not all the time. Not even most of it. When sin entered the world, we exchanged God’s glory for our own. We spend most of our time pursuing our glory instead of God’s.
Our New Year’s Resolutions are evidence of this. January is the month of made (and often failed) New Year’s Resolutions, most of which revolve around ourselves (even the ones that sound spiritual), if we’re honest. We want to successfully accomplish these resolutions in order to be glorified—to receive attention, praise, affirmation, success.
What if we had a different New Year’s Resolution: to glorify God this year?
“Great!” you say.
But then comes the head scratching. What is glory? What does it mean to glorify something? How do I glorify God in 2024?
What is Glory?
Glory is one of those theological concepts we often talk about but don’t really understand. Glory is difficult to define. The author John Piper admits this. He says that defining glory is more like defining beauty than it is defining a basketball. He explains that if you are attempting to define a basketball to someone who is unfamiliar with one, it wouldn’t be hard. You could explain its size, color, features in a way that this person could identify a basketball fairly easily when they see it. But you can’t define beauty this way. Beauty is best defined by pointing to things that are beautiful.
The same is true with glory. It’s best defined by pointing to it. At the end of the day a simple definition of glory is something that possesses weight or significance. It is something that is seen to be great, amazing, and incomparable. That’s the simple definition, but the better explanation comes when we point to things of weight and significance and declare their glory.
In the same way, the Bible defines the glory of God by pointing to it.
Romans 11:36 says,
36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever.
Every single thing in this universe—all types of fish, all solar systems, all thunderstorms, all emotions, all colors, things we see and things we don’t see—exist because of Him, maintain their existence through Him, and are all for Him. That is something that is weighty. That is of incomparable significance. That is the most glorious of glories. This is God.
Isaiah 6:3, which is in the middle of Isaiah’s vision of God on the throne, says,
3And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of His glory.
God’s holiness is His unique perfection. God is separate from creation in that He is perfect in power, perfect in justice, perfect in love, perfect in mercy. There is no one more significant in perfection than God. The angel declares the holiness of God and says that the earth makes known this perfect God—it manifests His glory.
So what is glory? It’s something of weight, something of real significance; it’s separate from others in its greatness and grandeur. And you define glory by pointing to it. “There it is!”
What does it mean to glorify something?
Quite simply, it’s magnifying, highlighting, or bringing attention to the greatness and significance of something. It’s as if we’re pointing and saying, “Hey look! That’s something worth paying attention to.”
To glorify God is to highlight His perfections. So when we say we live to bring God glory, we’re not adding something to Him, rather we are bringing attention to Him.
Psalm 19:1 tells us.
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
This isn’t hard to grasp. Consider the multitude of stars at night, or the expanse of endless ocean meeting the horizon, or the intensity of the sun: they glorify God. They declare to us God who is unbelievably significant to have created such majestic wonders.
What does it look like to glorify God with my life?
If God is the most significant being in the world and in our lives, then our everyday lives will reflect His significance. The Apostle Paul instructs us in 1 Corinthians 10:31 to do everything—even eating and drinking—to the glory of God. When we have fun with friends, when we eat a delicious meal, when we get a good grade on a test, when we experience the blessing of a godly marriage, when we forgive someone who has deeply hurt us, we can ultimately say, “To God be the glory.”
There are a million examples, but the simplest way to identify whether your life is bringing glory to God is to ask: do my words, my actions, my decisions, and my attitudes draw attention to the awesomeness of God or the awesomeness of something (or someone else)—myself included?"Do my words, my actions, my decisions, and my attitudes draw attention to the awesomeness of God or the awesomeness of something (or someone else) – myself included? -@Travhamm #collegiatedisciplemaker A Worthy Resolution for 2024 Click To Tweet
The Secret to Glorifying
Here’s the secret when it comes to glorifying: We glorify that which we find satisfying, valuable, awesome. When something consumes our attention, we can’t help but draw others’ attention to it. When we recognize the all-satisfying, always valuable, supreme awesomeness of God, we will point others to Him.
That’s what Jesus is talking about in Matthew 5:16 when He says,
16 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.
If we’ve tasted and seen the goodness of God, we’ll live like God has the most weighty significance in our lives, and we’ll share that weighty significance with others.
Are you ready to quit living for your glory in 2024?
Jesus put the full glory of God on display for us by coming into the world (see Colossians 1:15 and John 1:14). In the life of Jesus, in the death of Jesus, and the resurrection of Jesus we see the beauty, love, grace, truth, justice, mercy, kindness, and majesty of God. Jesus invites us to lay down our own glory and draw near to Him.
Have you seen the glory of God? Have you seen that there is no greater love that can be found than the love of God? Have you recognized that there is nothing more powerful than the one who spoke the world into existence? Have you discovered that God is way more beautiful than anything else in this world? Have you drawn near to Jesus? Do you believe He has come to free you from that life? That Jesus sacrificed His life on the cross so that you can live the life you were created for—for His glory?
If that is you, then you are a Christian. You’ve been set free from the pursuit of self-glory. You can be restored to living life the way you were created to live—for the glory of God. And you can make a constant commitment to living for God’s glory today, tomorrow, and for all of 2024.
Spoiler alert: You’ll fail. You won’t bring God glory perfectly or all the time. But don’t let that deter you.
God remains glorious no matter what.
Jesus’s life brought glory to God. And so can yours.