I am the Lord; that is My name;
My glory I give to no other,
nor My praise to carved idols.
This Every Thought Captive reflects on Patrick Lafferty’s final sermon as a pastor at PCPC.
Last week when the PCPC staff gathered to celebrate Patrick Lafferty’s ministry among us, Mark Davis asked Patrick to share what he had learned in the process of discerning God’s call to Christ the King in Duncanville. Patrick opened by saying that he had learned that the Lord will not give His glory to another. I was ready for a wise word about finding God’s will or taking risks for the Kingdom. The reminder that the Lord is jealous for His glory caught me off guard. Patrick’s comment and his subsequent sermon forced me to reconsider the centrality of God’s glory in my life. If God will not give His glory to another, is this good news?
We humans are naturally glory seekers. Look around. You’ll find glory language popping up everywhere. Songwriters never run out of verses to describe the glory of love. Historians marvel at the glory of Rome. A nation watches eagerly to see which political candidate will win a glorious victory. Search “food glorious food” on YouTube and you’ll find a musical tribute to culinary delight. In business we crave the glory of success. In school we salute the glory of achievement. In sports we yearn for the glory of a championship. Just yesterday I caught myself saying, “This weather is glorious.” Even the rare taste of autumn in Texas gets us thinking about glory.
We can’t help being glory seekers. As Christians we believe that God made us for His glory. Our children can recite the answer to the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” Deep down, we know that God’s glory is supreme, but we also know that our glory seeking has gone astray. Adam and Eve exchanged the glory of God for a bite of forbidden fruit (Gen 3:6). Esau traded the glory of his inheritance for a bowl of stew (Gen 25:29–34). David exchanged the glory of being God’s anointed for a moment of passion (2 Sam 11). Judas traded the glory of Jesus for a few pieces of silver (Matt 26:15).
As sinners we are glory seekers turned glory thieves. Few people have died falling off a footstool, but many have died in an attempt to scale the highest mountains. The depth of our fall only makes sense when we see the futility of trying to scale the summit of God’s glory and plant our own flag there. When we trade the glory of God for anything else—no matter how good the replacement—we set ourselves up against the King of Glory. Our offense can be measured only by the glory of the One we offend. For sinners, God’s promise in Isaiah 42:8 would appear to be bad news. If He will not give His glory to another, and we have tried to steal it, how can there be any hope for us?
The depth of our glory problem is only surpassed by the wonder of God’s solution. Though the Lord will not give His glory to another, He did sacrifice it to redeem His people when He sent Jesus to the world.
Why? Near the end of His life, staring down the reality of the cross, Jesus referenced glory eight different times in prayers to His Father (John 17). It shouldn’t surprise us that the Son of God is consumed with the glory of God. Jesus Christ came, lived, died, and rose in order to bring glory to His Father and joy to those who would find their glory in Him. God’s commitment to His own glory is wonderfully good news. Jesus sacrificed His own glory to pay our penalty for “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:23–24).
Why do so many of us long to change, but still find ourselves trading God’s glory for lesser things?
In his sermon, Patrick quoted the English Reformer Hugh Latimer, who said, “The rain maketh the hole in the stone, not by violence, but by oft falling.” The image reminds us that our growth in Christ is not an event, but a process. A stone hit by one violent shower will remain the same, but even gentle rain will transform it when that rain falls again and again for months and years and decades.
Could it be that the Gospel works on our hard hearts in much the same way? Could it be that our frustration says less about the power of the Gospel and more about our reluctance to yield our hearts to its relentless drip…drip…drip? In the midst of our failures, our suffering, and our challenges, the Gospel of grace continues to fall upon our stony hearts. As we stay under the drip of the Gospel, we are reshaped by it. Drip…drip…drip, and more and more we feel the weight of our rebellion in seeking glory apart from God. Drip…drip…drip, more and more we feel the greater weight of God’s love for us in Christ.
May the Lord give us all a passion for His glory and a desire to surrender to the drip of the Gospel. Patrick, thank you for shepherding us so well and exhorting us to walk on in the power of the risen Christ.
“Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord;
His going out is sure as the dawn;
He will come to us as the showers,
as the spring rains that water the earth.”