The following devotional is written by Kurt Nelson, East-West’s President and CEO.
Our Founder, John Maisel, is infamous for saying, “Don’t you dare touch God’s glory!”
I am certain that many of you reading this welcome John’s heartfelt caution! But what does it really mean not to “touch God’s glory” and how do we practically work that out in our hearts and lives?
To answer these questions, we have to start by answering “what is God’s glory”?
According to Wikipedia, “the word ‘glory’ (from the Latin gloria, “fame, renown”) is used to describe the manifestation of God’s presence as perceived by humans.”
In attempting to define God’s glory, John Piper says, “The glory of God is the infinite beauty and greatness of God’s manifold perfections. God is in a class by himself. He has infinite perfections, infinite greatness, and infinite worth. The glory of God is the manifest beauty of his holiness. It is the going public of his holiness.”
God is the singular most glorious being in the universe—without comparison! The next most renowned created beings in the universe, whether human or angelic in form, do not hold a candle to the incomparable, immeasurable glory of the only One, True and Living God!
Attempting to compare any creature to the Creator would be like comparing a molecule of water to all of the water in all of the vast oceans on planet earth combined! There is simply no comparison!
Then how do we touch or touch or steal God’s glory?
Have you ever seen someone do a “glory grab”? On a human level, a glory grab is when someone attempts to grab or take credit for what another person or, more likely, a whole team of people have actually accomplished together. I saw someone do so this recently and it was utterly distasteful and even offensive to observe! Imagine how much more God is offended when we do a glory grab with the glory due only to Him?
In Isaiah 48:11 we hear the Lord explain His singular right to the possession of the quality of His glory when He says, “For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.”
This is a really heavy verse! God says, in effect, that when we attempt to take credit for that which God alone has accomplished, we are actually attempting to steal God’s glory from Him! Isaiah explains that if this were possible, we would actually be defaming God. We would be attempting to reduce or diminish God’s fame or His glory as we attempt to grab some of His glory as though it were our own. Talk about highway robbery!!!
Put in this context, any of our efforts to take glory for ourselves, for our accomplishments or even for our organization is actually viewed by God as an attempt to steal what is rightly His alone and, therefore, to diminish His rightful glory. This perspective alone should make this particular sin incredibly distasteful and even repulsive to our own hearts!
So how do we avoid this sin?
As an antidote to our very common, and very human, temptation to attempt to steal God’s glory, the psalmist exhorts God’s people, cautions his own heart, and, therefore, our hearts as well in Psalm 115:1.
“Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.” -Psalm 115:1
We would all do well to recite these words to our own hearts on a daily basis! Speak David’s caution and corrective from Psalm 115:1 to your own heart anytime you are tempted to do a “glory grab” of your own!
But do we ever have a part in sharing any of God’s glory as we participate in God’s work?
The short answer is “no”! In answering this question, the caution that Jesus gives to His followers is a great reminder to us all.
“So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” -Luke 17:10
We have all heard Maisel say, “So I do my bit part and you do your bit part and then God does His great part!” Our bit part is meaningless apart from God doing His inestimably great part!
As Paul says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). At most, we have merely executed on the good works that God has architected for us to simply “walk in” by the indwelling power of His Holy Spirit! To God be the glory!
When we encounter human praise or a manifestation of the presence of the God’s glory, we should be like signposts pointing all the glory back to God or like well-polished mirrors faithfully deflecting and reflecting God’s glory rightfully back to Him. He is the only Source of all true glory!
Jesus reminds us, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
When people praised John Wimber, the founder of the first Vineyard Church, because of a powerful talk he had given or a miraculous healing that had happened through his ministry, Wimber used to say, “I’ll take the encouragement, but I’ll pass the glory on [to God]!”
Wimber got it, and we should do the same!
Whenever you are praised or are seeking praise for the fact that God has chosen to graciously use you to touch another life or to, in some great or small way, extend His Kingdom, feel free to be encouraged! But also be careful to pass all of the glory on to its rightful possessor, the One True and Living God!
So, “don’t you dare touch God’s glory!”
Rather, join with the great throng of witnesses in singing the words of the great hymn, “To God be the glory great things He hath done!”