Glorifying God’s Name

“Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” —I Corinthians 10:31

THE word “glory” in this text comes from the Greek word ‘doxa’, which means ‘to bring honor to’. Our English word doxology is derived from this word; and Webster defines doxology as ‘a liturgical expression of praise to God’. So when Christians sing a doxology, they are intoning praises to the Heavenly Father’s name.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” (Col. 3:23) It is easy to rejoice and to sing God’s praises when we are enjoying the blessings of life; but when trials inevitably come, we must remember that we are to be appreciative to the Lord for them also. We are to rely upon God wholeheartedly, exhibiting our faith in him with full zeal and enthusiasm in a way that will bring glory and honor to his holy name in our reactions to the good experiences as well as the unpleasant.

The poet David said it well: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” (Ps. 51:10) One could certainly be faithful unto death without doing any great works, but it is unlikely the Lord would judge any faithful who had not developed the right attitude. Doing the ‘right thing’ is not enough. The Pharisees did the ‘right things’, but they had the wrong attitude. In fact, Jesus called them hypocrites, explaining that they “honoreth me [God] with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”—Matt. 15:8

Occasionally we will all do something grudgingly—something which we know is right for us to do, but we do not necessarily perform it with any degree of enthusiasm. Yet, if we are faithful to our covenant of sacrifice and receive the reward of living and reigning with Christ, we expect to have the privilege of working with him in the rehabilitation of the world during the next age. This restoration process involves instilling the right attitudes in the minds and hearts of resurrected mankind. We cannot teach lessons we have not mastered ourselves!

The Apostle Paul wrote these edifying words, “In everything give thanks.” (I Thess. 5:18) This is an all-inclusive statement embracing each of life’s assorted experiences—its trials and difficulties, as well as its blessings. Can we be thankful even for afflictions? Yes! Paul was! He wrote: I “rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church.”—Col. 1:24

Especially when we find ourselves overwhelmed by deep afflictions, we should, like Paul, keep our hearts in a thankful attitude. The hurt, the agony, the pain of the trial will still be there. But we must learn to appreciate the fact that we are privileged to participate in the identical sort of adversities which our Lord Jesus endured. By developing a grateful disposition for all our experiences we will indeed honor the Father’s name, even as Jesus did, for he endured each one joyfully, knowing that the Father’s will was being done in his life.

At one point in his ministry Jesus said the time would come when many would say, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name … and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matt. 7:22,23) The Master could make this determination because he is able to discern between outward appearances and inward motivation. He is very much aware that works performed do not replace the necessity of developing proper heart attitudes.

We are certain that God answers our prayers. What, then, do we do when God’s answer is, No? Consider a poet’s words on the matter:

Disappointment—His appointment,
     Change one letter, then I see
That the thwarting of my purpose
     Is God’s better choice for me.
His appointment must be blessing,
     Though it may come in disguise,
For the end from the beginning
     Open to his wisdom lies.

Notice the phrase, “the thwarting of my purpose.” We all have undoubtedly had some of our requests denied by the Lord. Such prayers may concern our bodily comforts, our health, our families, our finances, etc. When the Lord says, No, to these petitions, and our purposes are momentarily thwarted, we should realize as the poet expresses it, that this represents “God’s better choice,” his much wiser choice, in our lives.

It has been said that God gives his choicest blessings to those who leave the choice with him. We must develop the Christian outlook which subordinates our human will in favor of his blessed will. When God says, No, it is because he has a better choice for us. “His appointment must be blessing, though it may come in disguise.” The fact that sometimes blessings are hard to recognize can be disconcerting to us, and confusing, as we seek to understand our relationship with God. We may murmur or complain about our experiences because we do not realize that they are blessings. But, even while undergoing very severe trials we must learn to recognize that every episode in life has been permitted by the Lord, and to glorify God’s name for sending them to us for our spiritual growth. Such a perspective will have been developed by every mature Christian who successfully reaches the end of the narrow way of sacrifice.

Whenever our Heavenly Father allows us to undergo what appears to be a disappointment, let us keep one eye on the glory of God, as did Jesus. Speaking of his Father he said, “I have glorified thee on the earth.” (John 17:4) He continually brought honor to the Heavenly Father’s name by recognizing God’s vastly superior wisdom in the overruling of life’s affairs. On one occasion when Jesus allowed his friend, Lazarus, to die, he explained to his disciples that Lazarus’ death would be “for the glory of God.” Although this was no doubt difficult for Jesus’ disciples and for Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha, to understand, they did begin to comprehend what Jesus meant when, with God’s power, he raised Lazarus from the dead, and all those watching received a small indication of the power and glory of God.—John 11:4

There is another revealing incident recorded in the twelfth chapter of John. It occurred late in our Lord’s ministry, and only a few days before he was to die on the cross. We read: “There were certain Greeks that came up to worship at the feast.” (John 12:20) These were undoubtedly Greek Jews who, like all Jews, went to Jerusalem at particular times of the year to keep the celebrations in compliance with the Law. Apparently they had been exposed to our Lord’s words and wanted to know more concerning his message. They went to Philip, saying, “Sir, we would see Jesus.”—vss. 21,22

Jesus was well aware of what these Greek Jews wanted to discuss with him. They were anxious about his welfare, as was also the Apostle Peter. Peter had urged Jesus not to go to Jerusalem; and the Greek Jews desired to make a similar suggestion, urging him to leave the city. There was a warrant out for Jesus’ arrest since the time he had resurrected Lazarus, just a few weeks earlier. If he were apprehended, he would be subject to the court of the Sanhedrin. The Greeks wanted him to escape the very evident storm clouds that were lowering about his head, removing him from the threat to a safer place so he could quietly teach them more of the wonderful words of life.

But our Lord Jesus knew the time had come for him to lay down his life in sacrifice. On other occasions he had escaped from those who wanted to harm him. But this time, without seeing his inquirers or having any discussion with them, he said, “The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified.” With an eye on his imminent arrest, imprisonment, trial, and crucifixion, he continued, “Verily I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honor. Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? But for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name.”—John 12:23-28

As a human being, Jesus shared the same emotions as the rest of mankind. He felt sympathy, pain, distress, and rarely, even anxiety. “Now is my soul troubled” (John 11:27), are certainly uncharacteristic words to hear Jesus say. His trials were supremely heavy, yet he did not ask to be saved out of them. Although he clearly saw that his death was at hand, his main concern was expressed by the words, “Father, glorify thy name.”

Jesus set an example for all of us who desire to follow closely in his footsteps. We will have trials, and we will have to bear them. But our trials will be much easier for us to bear when we put God’s will first. As in everything, we have a choice. We can choose to be angry, and respond to pain and distress with resentment—or we can choose to be submissive, and respond with grace.

Everything in life is a choice. It is as though we had two pockets—each labeled with an opposite attitude. One pocket contains a negative label and attitude; the other is labeled, positive. During a trial we can reach into the pocket that will bring us a victory in the experience; or we can reach into the wrong pocket for a wrong attitude. For instance we can say, “This is a terrible experience,” and such it may be. But that is a label pulled from the negative pocket. Let us reach into the positive pocket for a more accurate label: ‘This is your will Father, I will accept it as a gift from thee’. “Father, glorify thy name.” Jesus repeated often that it was not his own will he was following but the will of his Heavenly Father.

Experiences will be bearable or not by the mental attitude we bring to them. When we say, “Thy will be done,” we have an inner happiness and peace; and we will be victorious in our trials. If we say, “This is terrible. I don’t deserve this,” perceiving it as a calamity, we will fail the trial. Knowing that Jesus recognized that his death on the cruel cross was Jehovah’s providence for him and therefore accepted it willingly, how much more should we yield to God’s will in our daily vicissitudes.

Peter reminds us, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.” (I Pet. 4:12) This is an essential part of our training while following our earthly pathway. If we are going to be kings and priests in the next age, we must learn to cope with adversity. If we can only serve God faithfully when things are going well for us, we will not measure up to the standard of Christ; we must also learn to serve God in an acceptable manner when things are not going at all well.

Moses learned this lesson. He cherished the thought of completing his mission, leading the Israelites safely into the Promised Land. But God said, No. Because Moses had disobeyed God’s instructions when he smote the rock, because in this particular instance he failed to glorify God’s name, he would not be permitted to go into the land. Although Moses’ life would end in disappointment despite forty years of successfully serving God under extremely trying circumstances, he acquiesced in Jehovah’s judgment.

Just before he died Moses sang this song: “I will publish the name of the Lord: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” (Deut. 32:3,4) What a marvelous attitude is reflected here. Moses did not murmur nor complain that God did not grant his highly treasured dream. He knew undeniably that God was perfect in his judgment and could not make mistakes.

In Revelation, chapter fifteen, we read about the victorious ones who had followed the Lamb whithersoever he went. (Rev. 14:4) They are seen by John in vision as standing on a sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. They are pictured as singing the song of Moses and the Lamb: “Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear [reverence] thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name?”—Rev. 15:3,4

From day to day, as we strive to deal with experiences successfully, let us keep foremost before our minds that our priority is to accept them gratefully from our Heavenly Father, thus bringing glory to his name. When we are properly exercised by the lessons God permits, our characters will grow more and more in accordance with his will, and we will become worthy, through his grace and strength, to be part of the great sympathetic high priest which will bring the world of mankind back to perfection. When that work is complete, all creation will glorify God’s holy name!

Disappointment—His appointment.
     Lord, I take it, then, as such.
Like the clay in the hands of the potter,
     Yielding wholly to thy touch.
All my life’s plan is thy molding;
     Not one single choice be mine.
Let me answer, unrepining—
     “Father, not my will, but Thine.”

Dawn Bible Students Association
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