Why do we naturally default back to self-focused thoughts? We all know that children are very self-focused from the time they enter the world. Having three younglings of my own, I have experienced this natural self-centeredness and have sought to teach, redirect and model selfless behavior to the best of my ability. It is true, the mark of maturity is a consistent and disciplined attention to the needs of others. Unfortunately, this goes contrary to our natural tendencies.
Quite a number of years ago, I had the privilege of sitting under the teaching of a dear believer at a women's retreat. For the life of me I cannot remember her name, but her message left an impact that I will never forget. As she shared personal testimony and stories with her audience, about 200 of us, she used a phrase that I have adopted in my own vocabulary and thought process. Actually, I have heard it a lot since that time...I'm sure you have, too.
"It's not about you, dear."
As she stated this revolutionary sentiment, she demonstrated her point by squishing her own cheeks together with her hands, as if the hands of G-d Himself were taking her by the face and reminding her of what was important. And that would be Him. It's not about you...it's about Him. Point well made.
It is all about Him, not you...or me, either. Not our situation, or our desires or wants. Oh sure, He knows the desire of our heart before we pray for it, of course. He has made promises to be our protector, provider, teacher and shepherd, absolutely. But it's still not about us. Anything that is given and taken, I'm convinced, is ultimately for His glory, and His glory alone. That raise? All for His glory. Those beautiful children you struggled to raise? Yes, His glory again. That degree? All for His glory, for sure. It's all for His glory. Period. And what He does with those things, situations, blessings He has afforded to us? He uses them all, in the way He chooses, for His glory and His glory alone.
Hard stuff, I know. In our modern culture, every child is taught that they can be anything they dream and do whatever they wish if they just set their mind to it - all for their own pleasure. We can be so motivated by the media to indulge in material things, entertainment and delicious food in an effort to makes us happy...or happier. If we take our directive from the loudest voices, we will definitely put ourselves first. This is certainly evident when we look around - from rude drivers to arrogant, selfish business practices. But, I am thinkin' that our G-d is not looking to make our lives easier or happier; I believe he desires us to give Him glory in every situation we find ourselves; glory that comes in the form of praise, worship, exultation, obedience and service.
Giving G-d the glory is not something that is new to the believer. "To G-d be the glory...for the things He has done" is a common chorus heard in the Christian church. However, I'm talking about something a little deeper than that. I'm suggesting that when the bad things happen, that it is somehow happening for His glory. When the natural disaster strikes, G-d receives the glory when people come together to help each other recover and mourn. When the abuse victim finally escapes and gives her testimony, G-d gets the glory when someone else is helped and rescued through her words and empathy. When sickness takes the beloved family member, G-d gets the glory when their legacy of belief and caring compassion is valued and passed onto the next generation.
Hard situations, tragic twists and turns cause pain, sorrow and separation so often. But through all the tears, angst and dark days, G-d will be glorified. It is His will.
Then the Egyptians will realize that I am ADONAI, when I have won myself glory at the expense of Pharaoh, his chariots and his cavalry." (Ex. 14:18)
...give ADONAI the glory due to his name; bring an offering, and come into his presence. Worship ADONAI in splendid, holy attire. (1 Chronicles 16:29)
Give ADONAI his due, you who are godly; give ADONAI his due of glory and strength; give ADONAI the glory due his name; worship ADONAI in holy splendor. (Ps 29:1-2)
Let them give glory to ADONAI and proclaim his praise in the coastlands. (Is 42:12)
...everyone who bears my name, whom I created for my glory - I formed him, yes, I made him. (Is 43:7)
Give glory to ADONAI your G-d before the darkness falls, before your feet stumble on the mountains in the twilight, and, while you are seeking light, he turns it into deathlike shadows and makes it completely dark. (Jer. 13:16)
"In the highest heaven, glory to G-d! And on earth, peace among people of good will!" (Luke 2:14)
He said this to indicate the kind of death by which Kefa would bring glory to G-d. Then Yeshua said to him, "Follow me!" (John 21:19)
At once, because Herod did not give the glory to G-d, an angel of ADONAI struck him down. He was eaten away by worms and died. (Acts 12:23)
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. (Rom 11:36)
Well, whatever you do, whether it's eating or drinking or anything else, do it all so as to bring glory to G-d. (1 Cor 10:31)
...and every tongue will acknowledge that Yeshua the Messiah is ADONAI - to the glory of G-d the Father. (Philippians 2:11)
You are worthy, ADONAI Eloheinu, to have glory, honor and power, because you created all things yes, because of your will they were created and came into being! (Rev 4:11)
In a loud voice he said, "Fear G-d, give him glory, for the hour has come when he will pass judgment! Worship the One who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water! (Rev 14:7)
Wherever there is compassion, wherever there is love
wherever there is a smile of understanding,
and a hand reaching out to help,
that is where G-d receives the glory.
For we are commanded to love Him,
even more to serve Him,
and love our neighbor as ourselves.