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“Give glory to God,” scripture says, but how, exactly?


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Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson - published on 11/07/17

How can I possibly give glory to the One who possesses all glory?

Then he was told, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by.” A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper. (1 Kings 19:11)

When I consider what it must be like to experience God’s glory, this scripture passage is what I hope for. It speaks to God’s gentle love for us, his intention that we never be given more than we can handle, and his wish for communion with us, on a deeply personal level.

A few weeks ago, as I sat in church during my evening hour of Adoration, I was silently talking to God about my work. First I asked, why does God care so much that we work to become our best selves?

And the thought came that we do so to make this world better.

Then I asked God what he could possibly receive from our best efforts.

And the thought came that our purpose is to give God glory.

But how can I possibly give glory to God, who possesses all glory?

This is part of the great mystery.

At Mass we sing within the text of the Gloria: “Almighty God and Father, we worship You, we give You thanks, we praise You for Your glory.”

We sing the words every week, but do we stop to think what this means for our daily lives? St. Paul expressed it with this all-encompassing statement: “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

If we take St. Paul’s direction seriously, it sets an important new standard for the choices we make each day.

If we consciously attempt to live our best lives to glorify God, then everything we do reflects our love for God, so that others see God in us and become attracted; they want to experience God in their own lives. Our actions, then, become acts of thanksgiving, gratitude, and praise for God’s greatness and for his love.

How do we live our best lives? By understanding our frailties, counting on God’s mercy, and trying each day to use the gifts God has given to us, freely — gifts that, Pope Francis reminds us, are never taken away:

“…there will be sins, there will be disobedience, but in the face of this disobedience there is always mercy. It is like the dynamic of our walking, journeying toward maturity: there is always mercy, because He is faithful, He never revokes His gifts. It is linked; this is linked, that the gifts are irrevocable; [but] why? Because in the face of our weaknesses, our sins, there is always mercy. And when Paul comes to this reflection, he goes one step further: but not in explanation for us, but of adoration.”

In Adoration, we worship, and we meditate, but what does it mean to give God the glory?

Thanks, and praise, humility and awe, certainly. But what God wants most is our love. We were created by God out of love. He sent his son, Jesus, to become human and live with us because he loved us so dearly. God seeks to brings us close to him, because he loves us.

It is only natural to conclude that what God wants most from us is to see that love returned freely and joyfully — through our obedience, through the joyful use of the gifts he has given us to help us live our lives to the fullest. “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly,” said Jesus (John 10:10).

Imagine a mirror pointed at the sun, reflecting its light back to itself. In living our lives to the full, or at least honestly trying to, we become mirrors reflecting God’s love for us, back to him. We show him our love in that powerful way: light unto Light. And then, of course, in our joy and our peace, we show that Light to the world.

What do you give someone who has everything? Love is a wonderful place to start. Even if that someone is God.

To be honest, my understanding is a work in progress, but this is a good place to begin: With a heart filled with gratitude, I give all honor and praise and glory to God through the very gifts he has given me, and I love him with all my heart.

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