“It is not great men who change the world, but weak men in the hands of a great God.” - Brother Yun
When an individual is in the middle of playing basketball, never passes, and always shoots, our culture calls him a ‘glory hog.’ He’s called this because on his team, he has four other players that he could pass to, but he chooses to shoot the ball instead. The problem isn’t that he is good at what he does -- in fact, he wouldn’t be a very good glory hog without being good at what he's doing; he shoots the ball because most of the time he makes the shot. However, the motive of the accused glory hog is impure. He is not shooting necessarily so that the team will win and receive glory for their win, as a whole. He is shooting so that the world will glorify him. Instead of distributing and sharing the glory, he is perfectly content with sucking it all up himself, no matter the cost.
The glory hog loves for the world to praise him. He lives and breathes for the next compliment. He loves the attention, the worship of those around him, and lives for the next moment he will receive more glory. He does his best to bring attention to his many achievements and successes in life. He’s proud of his resume, reputation, and suit ties. When the attention isn’t up to his standard, he makes it a point to do something to bring attention to himself again. Using the example of a basketball star again, he makes comments that the team couldn’t of did it without him and he believes it. He can’t seem to function without self-glory.
We’ve all seen what we deem ‘glory hogs.’ In fact, some of us reading this have participated in this type of glory seeking. In the schools, children fantasize about being someone remarkable and important in their school community. Boys fantasize about making the game-winning shot and leading the school to victory, becoming a war hero, or becoming a movie star. Girls fantasize about being found so beautiful and glorious that their Prince Charming will sweep them off their feet. We all have found ourselves in such positions of self-glory at some point in time.
If we take a close look around us, we’ll find that the environment we live in promotes an attitude of self-glory. Our individualistic culture directly supports this type of glory seeking by promoting that a way to fulfillment is to focus on ourselves, our wants, and needs above all else. On top of that, our culture promotes bringing attention to ourselves. Why is it that fashion, make-up, exercise equipment, diet pills, etc. are so popular? One of the reasons is people are pursuing the belief that a means to fulfillment is to bring attention to ourselves by making ourselves more glorious in appearance.
The issue is that God is not pleased with the ‘glory hog mentality.’ God announces that He is disgusted at a “proud look,” that He resists the proud, and humbles those who insist on exalting themselves (Proverbs 6:16-17; James 4:6; Matthew 23:12). Why is this? Because this glory-hog mentality causes individuals to exalt themselves by any means necessary and at any expense. That expense is usually other people. Those who have the glory hog mentality will tear down others in order to build stairs for themselves to walk up. They will sacrifice the reputation of any other person if their name is lifted up. Consider the concept of bullying: one of the reasons people bully is to bring more attention to themselves or build up more self-glory. This, of course, is contrary to the character of God.
God created us for His glory. However, as we know, sin interrupted this design when man fell in the Garden of Eden and Satan led man down a road of glory seeking. He, himself, had been cast out of the heavenly realm for seeking glory for himself. Since the fall, man has pursued self-glory. Think of the many world leaders throughout human history that has sought glory for their own name. From Pharaoh to King Saul to King Nebuchadnezzer to Napoleon to Hitler to Stalin, man has always sought to build an environment that lifted up their name in glory. However, God’s original design was for His own glory (Isaiah 43:7; Revelation 4:11).
God’s word affirms that as Christians, we are called to bring glory to God in our daily lives. Apostle Paul tells us that we should strive in everything we do to do it for the glory of God (Colossian 3:17). Jesus explains early in His earthly ministry that one of the primary ways we glorify God is by doing good works toward others with a pure motive (Matthew 5:16). What is the fuel that drives us do these good works? True love for God. This true love for God pours out in our service to others. When our love for God is on fire, we will spread that fire through humble service to others. The environment in the Garden of Eden for Adam and Eve was an environment of love and fellowship with God that also poured out to each other. Their relationship was one of love and true love for others does not seek glory for self.
In other words, when our love for God is on fire, we aren’t glory seeking. We aren’t lifting up our own names or tearing down others to build a monument of self. Instead, we are submitting ourselves to others in humble service serving them for the glory of Christ. When we submit ourselves in this manner, we are glorifying Christ. For He was the perfect model of this type of selfless service. He announces to us that He came down from heaven in the form of a man not to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:28). Is not Jesus Christ most deserving of glory? Surely He is but yet, we find Him shedding off His glorious robes of heaven to put the rags of a sin-cursed earth on to serve sin-cursed man. His example was solidified when He willingly gave His life in our place on the cross of Calvary so that man could be saved.
Instead of being a glory hog on earth, we find Him washing the dirty, filthy feet of His disciples. Instead of calling down fire from heaven on those who rejected Him, we find Him showing mercy and even rebuking the disciples for thinking such a thing (Luke 9:54-56). Instead of riding in on a glorious horse into Jerusalem, we find him riding a lowly donkey. In today’s language, Jesus rode in on a beat-up bicycle instead of a roaring, shiny red Mercedes. Instead of eating with the religious elite of the city, we find Him enjoying a meal with the rejects of society. Today that means he would be sitting in the streets eating with the homeless instead of a 5-star restaurant in New York City.
Ultimately, instead of overthrowing the empire of Rome and climbing on a throne for Himself with a golden crown, we find Him climbing on a cross and receiving a crown of thorns. Using today’s language again, instead of becoming the President of the United States, He was taken to prison for execution. Our God, who deserves glory, covered it for a moment in the person and work Jesus Christ, the portrayal the common man, to make a way of salvation for sinners like us. Think of it: the God of all creation dying on behalf of His creation. What love!
The bottom line is that many are annoyed at the parade of a glory hog and that includes God. Therefore, as a Christian, I challenge you to follow the example of our Lord. Instead of bringing attention to yourself, how about you bring attention to your brother or sister in Christ for something significant they are doing? Instead of demanding service, how about we button it up and we serve others ourselves? Instead of whining about our problems, how about we join our grieving friend at the hospital standing at the foot of the bed of a dying loved one? Instead of placing our hands on as many trophies as we can, how about hold up our trophies in honor of God?
All and all, let us lay aside our self-glory for the glory of God.