The solitary aim of Jesus is to bring glory to His Father. From the angels’ songs of praise at His entrance to the world, “Glory to God in the highest” (Luke 2:14), to His acts that caused those present to glorify God (Matthew 15:31), to His conversational prayer found in John 17:4, “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do”, everything Jesus does is for His Father’s glory. While walking this earth, Jesus carried with Him a deep concern about the reputation for the Name that He represented. And He still cares about that today!
To catch the weight of what it means to glorify God, some background might help. In Jesus’ time, people’s reputations and the authority they carried were directly connected to their names. Their characters, actions, words, people skills, business dealings, and other attributes either significantly enhanced, or severely damaged, their reputations in the eyes of others. A person’s name and his reputation were inseparable.
You would think that God’s reputation wouldn’t be of much concern to Him—after all, He’s God! The Scriptures, however, tell us a very different story. They reveal an ever-expanding reach of His reputation throughout the Earth, via His name, as the major storyline from beginning to end! The Scriptures teach us that how His name is handled is of enormous importance to God.
The fourth of the Ten Commandments says, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain” (Exodus 20:7). Somehow this command is often reduced to only mean we should not use God’s name as a swear word. There is eternally more meaning to it than that. In Hebrew, vain is the word shav, meaning “emptiness, vanity, falsehood.” When we make God’s name worthless, we misrepresent Him. When we live in a way that distorts who God really is and what He’s really like, it results in giving God and His name a bad reputation!
Leviticus 19:12 reads, “You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God…” In Hebrew, the word for profane is chalaland, which means “to defile, pollute, desecrate, to make common, to violate the honor of.” Another Hebrew translation of chalal is “wounded.” It is found in Isaiah 53:5, where it talks about Jesus being “wounded for our transgressions.” The people of God need to be careful not to profane God’s name and reputation, not only because it maligns and misrepresents Him, but also because it hinders His name from beings spread throughout the Earth!
Jesus understood the ramifications of keeping God’s name and reputation “on our radar” at all times. He realized that misappropriating God’s name would be catastrophic. When people of different ethnicities or faiths have been killed over the centuries “in the name of Jesus,” God’s image is disfigured and His name profaned. When followers of Jesus say one thing but live the exact opposite, it wounds the reputation of God, hindering the momentum of the Kingdom. When godly leaders who’ve inspired trust betray the name they carry through how they live and lead, the fallout often results in irreparable damage to God’s sheep.
Weighty stuff, huh? When convicted on this front, repentance and crying out to God for His mercy and grace seems like the only right response to me. Following that, there may be some tings that need to be made right with those who’ve been affected by our sin. Restitution must be exercised to begin the process of repair in people’s hearts. As we walk this out, a door is opened for God to do His redemptive work of restoring His Name and reputation in the hearts and minds of those we’ve sinned against.
How do we elevate God’s name and reputation in our world today? I like Leith Anderson’s practical way of expressing it: “Living to the glory of God means living in such a way that we enhance the reputation of God in the eyes of others.” Imagine if we approached every word, decision, activity, relationship, and task through the single grid of, “Am I enhancing God’s reputation in the eyes of others?” We glorify God when we live our lives so that people see and are drawn to the beautify and wonder of who He really is!
Consider for a moment how different the following areas of your life look when viewed through the kaleidoscope of this understanding of glorifying God
1. Your walk with God. Your objective becomes being more like Him so you can more accurately reflect Him.
2. Your value. He loves you so much that He’s died for you and has made you an expression of His glory (John 17:22-26). What could possibly make you more valuable?
3. Your mission. As an “ambassador of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17-21), you carry His name to the people He sends you to (Acts 9:15).
4. Your prayer life. By praying as the Holy Spirit leads, in the name of Jesus, it allows Him to receive all the glory when prayers are answered (John 16:23-24).
5. Your relationships. Because God’s glory is at stake you are motivated to love, encourage, and serve people well, even lovingly correcting them when needed.
6. Unity. A shared passion for giving God glory is what will produce unity in His Church (John 17:20-23).
7. Evangelism. Evangelism is no longer primarily about saving sinners from hell, but about recognizing how much more glory someone will bring to God when living in an obedient relationship with Him.
8. Living life. Our aim becomes very simple—glorifying Jesus each day in all things (1 Corinthians 10:31).