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What does it mean to glorify God?

translate 412teens glorify God audio

To glorify God is to honor Him with praise or worship. God is glorious; that is, He is great and magnificent—He is exceptionally grand in His nature and deeds. “Full of splendor and majesty is his work” (Psalm 111:3, ESV). When we glorify Him, we acknowledge His greatness and splendor and laud Him for it. When we “give Him glory,” as all the world is told to do in Revelation 14:7, we direct our praise, adoration, thanksgiving, and worship to Him who alone is worthy.

Scripture makes our responsibility to glorify God evident from cover to cover. First Chronicles 16:17–36 presents a model for giving glory to God. As Asaph is installed as the chief minister before the ark of God, David instructs him in the method of worship:
• give praise to the Lord (verse 8)
• proclaim the greatness of God’s name (verse 8)
• tell the whole world what God has done (verses 8–9, 24)
• sing to the Lord (verses 9, 23)
• glory, or exult, in His name (verse 10)
• rejoice in Him (verse 10)
• seek out the Lord and trust in His power (verse 11) • remember all the Lord’s mighty deeds (verse 12) • ascribe glory and strength to Him because it is His due (verses 28–29). To ascribe is to think of as belonging, as a quality or characteristic; thus, we regard the Lord as possessing glory and strength.
• bring an offering to God (verse 29). In Asaph’s time, the offerings were in accordance with the Law of Moses; today, we are “to offer [our] bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is [our] true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1).
• worship the Lord (verse 29)
• give thanks to God for His goodness and love (verse 34)
• cry out to God for deliverance (verse 35)

El Elyon, the Most High God, is the possessor of all true majesty and resplendence. Glory is His by virtue of His nature, and He rightfully refuses to share it with others: “I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols” (Isaiah 42:8). By virtue of who God is, we have an obligation to glorify God at all times (1 Corinthians 10:31). Those who refuse to glorify God face severe judgment, as witnessed by the example of Herod usurping God’s glory in Acts 12:21–23.

We can, of course, glorify God with our words of praise and thanksgiving. We can also glorify God through our works of service for Him. Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Bearing fruit for the kingdom of God also brings glory to Him (John 15:8). Even in our manner of death, we can glorify God (see John 21:19).

To glorify God is to extol His attributes, praise His works, trust His name, and obey His Word. He is holy, faithful, merciful, gracious, loving, majestic, sovereign, powerful, and omniscient—and that’s just for starters. His works are wonderful, wise, marvelous, and fearfully complex. His Word is “perfect . . . trustworthy . . . right . . . radiant . . . pure . . . firm . . . precious” (Psalm 19:7–10). His salvation is astonishing, timely, and near. No matter how loudly or widely we proclaim the glory of God, He is worthy of more.

In the refrain of her 1875 hymn, “To God Be the Glory,” Fanny Crosby exhorts us to do what is right by extolling the Lord for all His work:
“O come to the Father through Jesus the Son
and give him the glory, great things he has done!”

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This page last updated: December 2, 2022