One thing that I long for in my eternal dwelling with Christ is to be set free from the endless battles with my flesh. Oh to be free from the desire to please others, the subtle trap of idolizing things in this world, the attempts to take control of what is not mine, and the temptation to steal God’s glory!
Even in moments when I feel I am genuinely pursuing Christ, striving to walk in his truth, and desiring to bring him glory, I would only be deceiving myself if I didn’t admit that even my most God-glorifying moments are riddled with sin. The enemy is always hard at work to convince me in the most subtle ways that I deserve more, and that the praise and affections of those around me will satisfy me, that being known and loved by others is of more value than being deeply loved and accepted by Christ.
Bowing our knee and submitting our lives to God alone goes against everything that is natural within us. Our culture tells us to follow our hearts if we want to find our way, to self-promote if we want any success in life, and to take the reins if we want to control the course of our days. The world says, “Glorify yourself, and you will be satisfied and happy!”
Even as believers, this deception is always lurking on our doorstep. Not only is the temptation to glorify ourselves all around us, but the desire for it lies within our hearts. If we don’t recognize and fight this battle of the flesh with truth, we will easily slip into this subtle, but powerful, pull of self-exaltation.
Here are three truths that we can remind ourselves of when we battle the temptations of seeking our own happiness and glory, pleasing man, making more of ourselves than Christ, and stealing God’s glory.
I once was dead and now am alive because Christ alone saved me when I could not save myself.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
I didn’t help Christ save me. I was dead, helpless, separated from God, deserving eternal death, and blind to my need for a Savior.
He died for me. He opened my blind eyes, took my heart of stone, and gave me a heart of flesh. He forgave me and united me to himself. He gave me life, both now and eternal. What have I done to deserve to be glorified? Nothing! So why would I, a chosen daughter of the King with a promised eternity in God’s glory, fall back on the tireless pursuit of the short-term pleasure of making a name for myself and seeking my value outside of Christ? Like every redeemed sinner, I am in the process of being made more like Christ. I will battle the pull of my flesh until the day I am home with my Savior. By his grace, a love for his glory alone is slowly beginning to drown out the desire for my own.
If we find ourselves struggling with a love for the glory of man, the greatest antidote is the reminder of what we deserve apart from Christ, what he has done for us on the cross, and how he has powerfully changed our hearts and worked in our lives. Only then will we give him the glory due to his name—and his name alone.
If I am in Christ, I am no longer of the world, but a reflection of Christ’s glory to the world.
“They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, the they also may be sanctified in truth…The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, the they may become perfectly one, so that they world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:16-19,22-23)
The strong pull of the world will always compete for our affections. For this reason, Christ prayed to the Father to sanctify us in his truth, to be one with him and with his church, and to display Christ’s glory to the world. As our joy in the glory of Christ increases, our love for the world and the glory of man will loosen its grip on us. This sanctification often comes through suffering.
Jesus said to his Father, “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” (John 17:4-5)
Christ glorified the Father by suffering death on a cross to pay the penalty for our sin, bringing salvation to all who would believe. If we are his servants, we too are called to take up our cross and glorify him by daily dying to our old selves and walking in the newness of life that we have been given in Christ (Matthew 16:24-27).
Although we may loathe the suffering that comes into our lives, it is purposed to sanctify us in truth so that we might increasingly reflect the image of Christ. It opens our eyes to see how conditional and empty the glory of man is, and how undeserving, satisfying, joy-filled, and eternal the glory of God is.
As we stop fighting for our own glory and become one in the goal of glorifying Christ, we become a witness and testimony to a lost world which is divisive and fights one another for each person’s temporary glory. What a blessing it is to be a part of God’s people who are building one another up for the glory of Christ, rather than tearing each other down over the endless and empty pursuit of our own glory!
The glory of man is temporary, but the glory of God is eternal.
“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:24)
Jesus Christ desires you and me to be with him in his glory for eternity! What an amazing and humbling thought! Oh, how much it must grieve the Father when we pursue the temporary pleasures of man’s glory, when we are promised everlasting joy in Christ’s glory!
Brothers, join me in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Philippians 3:17-21)
When we feel drawn towards the immediate gratification of our own glory, let’s wash ourselves in the promise of sharing eternal glory with Christ. Our citizenship is in heaven, where our Savior will free us from the curse of sin and transform our lowly bodies to be like his glorious body—righteous, holy, and without blemish. Why settle for the temporary glory of these earthly bodies?
Until that day, let’s pray for the Holy Spirit to help us when we are tempted to seek our own glory, and ask him to give us an unmatched love and joy for the glory of God.