The Glory of Man

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(More from last issue)

“Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.”  --Jeremiah 9:23,24

What do you rejoice in?  That you have the same weight as you did when you were twenty-five?  Have you reached financial security?   Do you have a great reputation?  That you have overcome your worst vices?  That you are a good person?

In Sunday School we learned that sin is coming short of the glory of God.  We learned that all do that (Romans 3:23).  So often, however, the lesson was taught only in a moralistic fashion.  God was pleased if we did good things, and He was angry if we did bad things.   We would bring shame to the Name of God if we did bad things, and we would bring luster to the name of Christian if we did good things.

They were good lessons, as far as they went.  It was many years later before this writer, at least, begin to see that something very important was missing.   How can we live for the glory of God if we do not know His true nature?   The adherents of Islam try to bring praise to their religion; Hindus try to live to bring luster to theirs.  Is it all just a propaganda battle, after all?  Is it all about being good in order to attract adherents to your faith?   What drives the morality of the people of God—the need to win the propaganda wars?

What is the edge that Christians have over all other religions in the world?   It is very simple.  Our edge is Jesus Christ.  The beauty, goodness, wisdom and power in the historic figure of Jesus Christ are far beyond all other founders of religion.  No one spoke as He spoke.  No one ever did the miracles that He did.  Someone has said that if the Gospels are fiction, then we ought to worship the people that made up Jesus Christ, for they are wisest and best people who have ever lived.

In Jesus Christ we know whom we worship.  The character of the true God shines forth in His words and deeds.  Those who worship dead gods do not know what they worship.  They worship the figment of imagination, theirs or someone else’s.  But in Christ we have all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9).

The study of God in Jesus Christ is therefore the most glorious occupation of mankind.  There is nothing that is so becoming to a human being than to have the knowledge of God: to understand and to know the Lord.

“Show us the Father,” said the disciple.  “Have I been so long time with you, and you do not know me yet?” was the reproach of Christ.  “He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father.”  (John 14:8,9)

Looking up into the heavens, the Psalmist cries, “The heaven’s declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork.” (Ps. 19:1)  Paul observes that there is “one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory”  (I Cor. 15:41).

But what is the glory of a man?  Is it man’s glory to clothe himself with finery, to glut himself with the finest of food and the choicest of wine?  Is it man’s glory to rule over others and pile up treasures of silver and gold?

The prophet answers: man’s glory lies in doctrine.  It is a glorious thing for man to know the true nature of God, as He has revealed Himself over the years of history, the revelation of Himself on the pages of Scripture.   If it is glorious for a man to know such things, what must be the shame of ignorance?

“I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.”  (Jer. 9:23)   The true God is not an absentee landlord.  He “exercises” or “accomplishes.”  God is going to see that lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness are accomplished in the earth.  What a glorious thing it is for man to know these things and to rejoice in them.

The modern world scoffs at the idea that certain knowledge can be had about God.  “Everybody has their own ideas,” they say.  “If they love God, that is what is important.”    But love for “God” is no virtue, if we love what we do not know.  Such love brings the wrath of God. As followers of Jesus Christ we are called to “walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their minds, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart….” Ephesians 4:17, 18

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