“To God be the glory, great things He hath done. So loved He the world that He gave us His Son, who yielded His life an atonement for sin, and opened the life gate that all may go in.” – from “To God Be the Glory,”by Fanny Jane Crosby and William Howard Doane
We sing about giving glory to God; we pray about giving glory to God; we talk about giving glory to God; but how does this actually work? How and when does God ACTUALLY receive glory as a result of what WE do?
I suppose there are a number of “right answers” to this question, biblically; but I would like to suggest at least ONE of these right answers from Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
The “path to glory,” according to Philippians 1:9-11, is a 5-step process. In today’s article, let’s talk about the first step of this process:
STEP #1 – ABOUNDING LOVE– In verse 9, Paul says, “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more.” The Greek word translated “abound” means, “to exceed a fixed number of measure,” “to overflow,” or “to be at hand in abundance” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). As if this word were not enough, he adds the Greek word that is translated “more.”
In other words, Paul wants them to “turn on the faucet of love and leave it running!”
When I mop our kitchen floor, I fill up a bowl with soapy water. I usually fill up this bowl to the very top, which means that carrying the bowl can be a bit difficult. In all honesty, I typically spill some of that soapy water every single time I move the bowl, because there is literally nowhere for that water to go except OUT of the bowl, every time it moves!
I think about this overflowing bowl of soapy water when I read this passage about abounding in love.
Are you and I growing and abounding in our love? When it comes to our love for our family, our friends, the Lord’s Church, the lost, and even our enemies, is it “abounding?” Do we have more of it today than we did last year? If God is going to receive glory as a result of our actions, it is going to begin with the kind of love that “spills out” of us at every turn of life!
In other words:
- When we run into our friends, love should “spill out”
- When we are persecuted by our enemies, love should “spill out”
- When we worship the Lord with our Christian family, love should “spill out”
- When the circumstances of life are painful and seem insurmountable, love should “spill out”
- When we are challenged and opposed by nonbelievers, love should “spill out”
- When we have conflicts with one another in the Church, love should “spill out”
But does it?
I don’t know about you, but too often, my love isn’t “abounding more and more;” instead, it is “shrinking,” “struggling,” and showing itself “less and less.” Too often, it seems that, as God’s people, we are not known for our love (Jn. 13:34-35). Instead, we are often known by our judgmental/critical spirits, our hypocrisy, our inability to get along with one another, and our self-righteous attitudes.
Until we can learn to be a people who are overflowing with love, we are not yet on the path towards bringing glory to God!
If you and I are struggling with this, I would suggest that we go back to the SOURCE of our love: God Himself. On our own, we are NOT a limitless supply of love and we will eventually run dry; we must be “refilled” by the love that our Father shows us! When was the last time that we “soaked in” the love of God towards us? When was the last time we really read John 3:16, realizing that this is talking about US? When was the last time we truly realized that, “God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8)? God loves us more than we can truly comprehend, and the Scriptures are filled with the evidence of this love!
If you are a Christian, don’t continue to live a “loveless” life. Don’t try to be the source of the love that you feel and show towards others. Let God “fill up your bowl,” and you will spill His love everywhere you go!
But is love enough? There are LOTS of “loving people” in the world who are not bringing glory to God, aren’t there? So what is the next step, according to Paul?
Join us next time as we continue this study and take a look at STEP #2: KNOWLEDGE & DISCERNMENT.