God is just. God is holy. God is righteous. God is sovereign. God is love. God is merciful. God is gracious. But God's glory is the sum, yea more than the sum, of these parts. God's glory is more than man can handle. God's glory radiates from His being with such intensity that no man may see His face and live. Moses had to veil his face after being in God's presence because the people couldn't even handle His glory second-hand.
God's glory changed Moses' complexion.
God's glory reduced Isaiah to a puddle of unclean lips.
God's glory silenced Job's self-righteous, albeit fairly accurate, justifications.
"For of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things: to whom be glory forever." (Romans 11:36) Seventeenth century theologian Matthew Henry sums it up like this: "(He) is the first cause, the sovereign ruler, and the last end...Whatever are the premises, let God's glory be the conclusion."
We are commanded to do all things to the glory of God. We are commanded to do all things to the glory of this first cause, this sovereign ruler, this last end. I am amazed that I do not cover my mouth and fall to the ground with the patriarchs in abject fear. I miss God's glory on a daily, moment-by-moment basis. I miss His glory nearly every time I open my mouth, pick up my pen, interact with others, think something, think anything. How, then, does this sinner ever glorify God? God's glory is my passion. But how can my passion be something I so completely miss? It would be more intellectually honest to say that my passion is to want God's glory to be my passion.
My kingdom gets in the way.
It is in spite of this stark reality that I must do everything to the glory of God. As I learn to live, I must keep his glory in my sights at all times. As God begins to allow me to do some things that my heart has desired for years, I must not fail to recognize this truth: God is all about His own glory. Anytime He lets me do anything, it is not to glorify myself but to glorify Him.
There are desires of my heart that I lay at His feet years ago that He is only just now beginning to give me permission to use. I have waited for this day for a long time. But now that it is here, my knees knock together and my heart quails. I am nearly paralyzed by the fear of both failing Him and failing others. But even that misses the mark. I cannot be afraid of failing men. My focus must be upward. I must be all about God's glory, even as He is all about His glory. So where I thought I would dive right in, I find I am sitting on the edge, wondering why in the world He has brought me to this point and how He could possibly use me now.
Maybe that is precisely the response He wanted? Maybe He wanted to bring me to a place where I have lost confidence in myself and recognize my utter dependence on Him? Maybe only then can I do anything to the glory of God anyway? Maybe that was the point of dying to me and living to Him?
It is a lesson that sobers me. For unless I do all things to the glory of God, those things are not worth doing at all. Whatever the premises, let God's glory be the conclusion.