Thursday, November 03, 2011

Sermon: "Give Glory to Your Father in Heaven"

“Give Glory to Your Father in Heaven”
Fourth in the Series)
Matthew 5:14-16
October 30, 2011

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

Review of the last 3 Sundays:
You are the light of the world…
Let your light shine before others…
That they may see your good works…

Today: “…and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

Jesus calls us “the light of the world.”
What an awesome privilege and responsibility.
To be bearers of the light of Christ.

He tells us to “let our light shine.”
The world needs the light of Christ we have to share.
The world notices when we do and when we don’t.

Letting our light shine means we do “good works” for others – we share the love of God with them.

Then in this last part it all comes back to God.
We let our light shine and do good works so that those who see that light and receive those good works give glory to whom?
To us? To First Church? To Pastor Don?
So they give the glory to God, to our heavenly Father.

This word “glory” is interesting.
It appears literally hundreds of times in the Old Testament and the New Testament.

In the Old Testament, the word most often used for “glory” is the Hebrew word kabod. Kabod means weight or importance. Not “weight” in the sense that something weighs five pounds, but the way we use the world “weighty.” If something is weighty it’s important.

So the glory of something has to do with its weight or importance.

Sometimes the Old Testament talks about a person/human’s glory. It might mean their riches, power, reputation, spirit.

For example, Proverbs 20:29 – “The glory of young men is their strength.”

Most often, glory is used in relation to God.
“the glory of the Lord”
“give glory to the Lord”

It has to do with God’s “weight” or “importance.”

In the New Testament, the word used most often for “glory” is the Greek word doxa.

Doxa means praise, glory, splendor, majesty. It’s where we get our word “doxology.” A Doxology is words that glorify or praise God.

There’s the glory of God, the glory of Jesus Christ. It means greatness, importance.

To “give glory” means to praise; to acknowledge the greatness, the majesty of God or Jesus.

We may use “glory” to refer to lots of things:
We talk about the “glory” of a sunset.
The “glory days” of the Dallas Cowboys.

But in the Bible, glory is used almost exclusively of God, of Jesus.
So the word glory turns our attention to God.

It reminds us that in the end, everything comes from God and everything goes back to God.

Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” Light comes from him, not us. We reflect the light.

We let our light shine in good works – in acts that make the love of God real to others.

And we do that to give the credit, the praise, the glory back to God.
We let our light shine, we let others see our good works, so that the glory may go to God, not to us.

I studied the Protestant Reformation in seminary and graduate school. I was fascinated by Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli. We sang “A Mighty Fortress” this morning in honor of Reformation Day, which is tomorrow. October 31 is not just Halloween or All Hallows Eve, it was the day in 1517 that Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the chapel door in Wittenberg, Germany and gave a symbolic beginning to the Protestant Reformation.

John Calvin was one of the Protestant reformers and the father of Reformed theology (Presbyterians).

The Presbyterians used to memorize the Westminster Catechism as a way of teaching the faith. Maybe they still do.

The first question of the Westminster Catechism is:

What is the chief end of man [people]?

In other words, why were we put here on earth? What is our purpose? What is the ultimate meaning of our life?

The answer, according to the Westminster Catechism:

“The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”

Think about that for a moment.

Think about the ultimate meaning and purpose of your life as glorifying God and enjoying Him forever.

My interpretation of that phrase would be: The purpose of my life is to enjoy such a close and intimate relationship with God that everything I do, everything I say, everything I think points people back to God.

In other words, we were put here on earth not mainly for our own benefit, but for God’s glory.

It comes down to this: We are called to glorify God in our Living and our Giving.

How do we glorify God in our living?

Again, think of the meaning of the word “glory.”

In Hebrew (kabod), it means weight or importance.

In Greek (doxa), it means praise.

When we glorify God in our living, we give God the weight or importance he deserves.

When we glorify God in our living, we live life in such a way that our lives praise God.

In every aspect of our lives, we have the opportunity to give glory to God.

If you’re a student: Study hard; be honest; help others; do your best.

If you’re a parent: Acknowledge your children as a gift from God. Raise your children with godly values; teach them to love God.

At work: Do your work with honesty and integrity. Work hard. Run your business according to Christian values.

If you’re married: Recognize your partner as a gift from God. Love them, forgive them, respect them, care for them, and help them to grow as persons.

In all your other relationships: Love your neighbor as yourself.

In your spiritual life:
Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Give God the weight, the importance he deserves.
We glorify God through prayer, worship, and Bible study.

In every major decision, or turning point, or transition we come to in life, we have the chance to honor and praise God – to glorify him.

But also in the minor moments – the books we read, the movies we watch, the words we speak – we can choose God-honoring and glorifying options.

There’s scarcely any moment in our living when we can’t glorify God.

We can also glorify God in our Giving.

Giving, of course, is part of living.

But I separate it out today simply to invite each one of us to think about the question: Does my giving bring honor and glory to God?
Does what I give for God’s work express the weight or importance I attach to my relationship with God?

Does it give voice to the praise I feel in my heart for all that God has done for me?

Giving is just one way we glorify God in our lives, but it’s an important way.

Jesus had a lot to say about money because he knew that wealth, possessions were the main competition for most people with God.
“No one can serve both God and money.”
“Where your treasure is, there is your heart also.”

There are lots of motives for giving – guilt, legalism, to get something back.

But the best motive is simply to glorify God – to give God credit and thanks for all we have received. To always point the praise away from self and toward God.

Just the act of giving glorifies God when it expresses our relationship with him – how much we love him and how important God is to us.

But our gifts also glorify God in their effects:
When our gifts…
Feed a hungry child
Teach someone about the love of Jesus
Allow worship to happen
Help a teenager in crisis
Enable a visit to a senior citizen in a nursing home…
Then God is glorified over and and over.

The size of the gift, the dollar amount doesn’t matter, because some of us can give more than others. But if we’re doing our very best; if our giving gives glory and honor and praise to God, then that’s what’s important. We may not be yet where we want to be in our giving – but just keep trying and just keep growing.

Jesus has told us: We are light for the world.
Jesus has told us: Let your light shine before others.
Jesus has told us: Let people see your good works so they can give glory to God.

The two questions we all need to ask ourselves this morning are these:
In my living, am I giving glory to God?
In my giving, is God truly glorified?


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