I’ve always seen the word “glory” as a mere superlative, without understanding its implications.
Eugene Peterson says that “glory” is a large word in our Scriptures, radiating the many dimensions of God’s grandeur, brightness, effulgence, and illuminating everything around it.”
Middle Eastern scholar Kenneth Bailey defines the word: “Behind the Greek word doxa (glory) is the Hebrew word kabod (weight). In Middle Eastern culture, a “weighty” person has to do with wisdom, balance, stability, reliability, second judgment, patience, impartiality, nobility, substance, and the like. Latin has preserved these ideas and attached them to the word gravitas. Glory has to do with gravitas! It’s not about us, it’s about God’s glory.”
Gravitas is a recently popular word, which we often use to describe candidates and politicians who appear to be people of substance.
The Westminster Confession opens with a question: “What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” This seems to coincide with I Cor 10:31, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
I worked at a Christian camp in North Carolina that quoted that verse nearly every day, at every meal; it was their defining statement. I was hiking to a waterfall and a teenager asked me how that played out in day-to-day life, not a simple question. I suggested that our enjoyment of God’s creation pleases and thus glorifies Him, and when we choose to stop living for self and live for God, this too brings Him glory. John Piper observed, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”
But God has glory even if we don’t acknowledge Him. C.S. Lewis wrote, “A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word “darkness” on the walls of his cell.”
Finally, another of my favorite authors, Madeline L’Engle posed the challenging question: “What did I do today that might have given God pleasure?