Wherein Lies Our Glory
“Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)
To understand and to know the Lord is the greatest of all aspirations and the one thing that we can truly boast about, but how hard this really is! This passage in Jeremiah, however, is very clear. We are not to glory in our intelligence, our physical strength, or our worldly wealth. Instead, we are to glory in God and in God alone. “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14).
So, what does it mean to glory in ourselves? Well, the easy answer is to say that to glory in ourselves is to march around in front of our friends and neighbors with our chests puffed out, parading all that we have in front of them. Of course, this is glorying. But to glory in ourselves is so much more. What is the more deadly sin of glorying is that which takes place in the quiet of our hearts – when we glory in our intelligence, strength and money to ourselves.
We glory in our intelligence when we think – “Oh, I know so much more about that topic than so and so” or “Oh, I am so glad that I am right in this situation”. “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;“ (1 Corinthians 3:18-21).
We glory in our might when we depend on ourselves to get us through each and every day in our own strength. “And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
We glory in our riches when we believe that all that we have comes from our own efforts and is earned by our own devices. “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?” (Matthew 19:23-25)
Oh, how easy it is to glory in all those things throughout the day! And yet anytime we glory in ourselves we are heading for disappointment. It may not be this time or the next, but sooner or later we will be disappointed by ourselves no matter how good or strong we are. The only thing that we can truly glory in is to know and understand God Himself.
So what does it mean to glory in God and God alone? Let’s talk for a minute about what it doesn’t mean. To glory in God is not to glory in His answered prayers. It is so easy to glory in and praise Him for those prayers that are answered as we wish them to be, but what about tomorrow when that answer doesn’t quite fit with what we want today? We’ll stop glorying in yesterday’s answer, won’t we? What about those blessings that were so great and glorious? Well, once the circumstances around us change, it’s very easy to forget those blessings. As we forget, we cease to glorify God. Nothing that is subject to our own emotional or spiritual fluctuations can be gloried in, whether it comes from God or not. But what can be gloried in is the person of Jesus Christ – in God Himself, for in Him there “is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). The glory of God’s “lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness” will never change (Jeremiah 9:24). It is these traits alone that we can base our true joy upon.
We need to glory in who God is – apart from what He gives us. Sure, we are to be thankful for His blessings, His presence, and His gifts – but the glory due God lies not in the gift – but the Giver. “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalms 16:11). When we are called to glory in God, we must keep ourselves in check – first to make sure it is not ourselves in that we glory and secondly that it is in God and not in what He gives us.
“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and He will make me to walk upon mine high places.” (Habakkuk 3:17-19)
Habakkuk understood this when he wrote that though the crops were failing and the animals weren’t producing, he would rejoice in the Lord, for He was the God of His salvation. The prophet understood that everything came down to God and God alone – regardless of His circumstances – in whom His glory and praises lay. God’s sole desire is that He be glorified – and we will know that we know Him when our lives are such that all that we do points to who God is. At that time, our glory will lay in the right place.
“Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever” (1 Peter 1:22-24). “But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).
The next time you are temped to glory in yourself, check yourself and just talk to God about who His is. Let His love, forgiveness, gentleness, faithfulness, provision, kindness, holiness and omniscience overwhelm you and then Glory in that this is the God whom you know personally.