“I could not exist if Jesus was not glorified; it would be hell to me if he were to be always thus dishonored.” Henry Martyn
Countless men and women have left the comfort and safety of home for the risk and joy of missions. There are many reasons for choosing such a radical life: obedience to the Great Commission, love for the lost, and desire to share with the less fortunate. All of those are good motives. But, only one motivation is strong enough and heavy enough to keep us from discouragement when our efforts are not appreciated, when they have not produced the success we imagined, or when the opposition intensifies. The weight that keeps us steady and faithful in the midst of all troubles can be summed up in one phrase: “The glory of God.”
That was the impetus that drove the apostle Paul. Although “hard pressed on every side,” “persecuted,” “struck down,” and “always given over to death,” Paul could boldly state, “we do not lose heart.” [2 Cor. 4:8-11] What one passion, what one motive, what one reason could enable any man to stay and stand in the midst of such pressure and pain? Here is Paul’s answer: “All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.” [2 Cor 4:15] Paul suffered and stayed for this solitary reason: More and more people were joining him in expressing thanksgiving to the glory of God.
The Hebrew word for glory [cabod] is derived from a root with the basic meaning, “to be heavy, weighty.” The glory of a person was that which gave him substance and importance in the eyes of others. Thus, Abraham is described as “very rich [heavy] in livestock, in silver and gold.” [Gen. 13:2] To glorify someone is to recognize his importance or to enable others to recognize and respect that individual because of his weighty character. The Greek word for glory [doxa] has a similar meaning. In the incarnation of the Son of God, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory [doxa], the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” [John 1:14] In Jesus, his words, his life, his death and his resurrection, we see a glory that is so awesome, so attractive, so personally satisfying and so weighty, that we gladly give up all that we are or have so that we might know and make known the glory that is in the Lord Jesus Christ.
David Brainerd was a young man who was an eighteenth century missionary to the Indians of New York. His devotional life and his love of God’s glory impacted the giants of the missionary movement through his prayer journal. Tuberculosis ravaged his body and he died at the tender age of 29, his life was short on quantity but long on quality. Shortly before he was to die, he called his friends to his bedside and gave this testimony:
My heaven is to please God, and glorify him, and to give all to Him, and to be wholly devoted to his glory. That is the heaven I long for; that is my religion and that is my happiness….I do not go to heaven to be advanced, but to give honor to God….All my desire is to glorify God….I see nothing else in the world that can yield any satisfaction besides living to God, pleasing Him, and doing His will.
When God “made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ, [2 Cor 4:6] everything changed. Seeing the glory of God in the face of Christ affects everything we do. That is why Paul commands, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” [1 Cor 10:31] It is that zeal for the glory of God which integrates our worship and our witness. How can we worship Christ and care not that others do not? It is our worship of Christ that motivates us to witness to Christ, in order that others may join us in the awesome pleasure of declaring his praises.
With the promises of God as our strength, and the glory of God as our passion, it is always too soon quit and withdraw from our God given station. The weight of His glory is the one reason we go and stay. God grant us the grace to see the glory of Christ so that we will stand strong in battle. Our everlasting joy is anchored in His everlasting glory.
“ With the world under his feet, with heaven in his eye, with the gospel in his hand and Christ in his heart, he pleads as an ambassador for God, knowing nothing but Jesus Christ, enjoying nothing but the conversion of sinners, hoping for nothing but the promotion of the kingdom of Christ, and glorifying in nothing but the cross of Christ Jesus, by which he is crucified to the world, and the world to him.” John Venn
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