I am a glory stealer

I opened my Bible to 1 Peter 4 and thought, I am a glory stealer.

7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 4:7-11, ESV

The clear directions and application here in 1 Peter are easy for my heart to relate to. I start doing a mental checklist to see if I’m hitting each point. Be self-controlled: mostly check. Be sober minded: check. Love one another earnestly: mostly check. Show hospitality: check. Use our gifts to serve others: check. I’m feeling pretty good.

But then verse 11 stands out as the foundation for all these “good” things:

in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever.

What grounds our actions and behaviour is God’s glory. It’s for God to be glorified. Verse 7 about “the end of all things” gives context — Jesus will return one day, and we don’t know when. We need to live each day like it’s our last one. Which is kinda a morbid idea, but actually it fuels our time with purpose and meaning. It grounds it with an eternal perspective, one where God sits on the throne, Jesus will return to make all things right, and God the Father will be the Judge of the living and the dead.

In light of the times we live in, we need to live and do everything through the power of God the Spirit to point more and more glory back to God the father, and only because of the work of God the son, Jesus, on the cross.

But I’m a glory stealer. The glory that I should be pointing back towards God, I want to keep for myself. In my pridefulness I want to be glorified at the end of all times. I long to be admired and known and worshipped. Even though God calls me to follow him faithfully, even in obscurity, I want to follow him from the front.

I love how Jess Connolly describes her mission:

Everything for the Glory of God + the good of others.

I long to have this as my mission, to ground who I am and what I do. But instead it becomes more like:

Everything for the Glory of Erin + the good of Erin.

It’s ugly thinking about this, because it’s not how God created me to live. It’s how many people in the world think and live, but it’s not how God designed me. I was designed for God to be at the centre of all I am and do. Not myself.

I was reminded of John 3:30 as I was considering this. John the Baptist talks about Jesus and says, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

John, Jesus’ cousin, had a ministry and a following. Easily he could have been a glory stealer, wanting the attention, worship, and adoration of so many people. But instead, he knew his true purpose and design. God miraculously created him (you can read that in Luke 1) so that he would be the front-runner to Jesus (another miracle birth). John came to prepare the way for Jesus’ ministry on earth. John’s ministry pointed to Jesus. Always, always John redirected people back to Jesus and the Kingdom of God.

And so, even though I’m constantly tempted to steal the glory that only belongs to God, I should be doing the same. Like John, my ministry should redirect others back to Jesus and the Kingdom of God. My ministry should point to Jesus. Jesus’ life, death, resurrection was the front-runner to my ministry, and so I need to be grounded in it always. Like Peter wrote in this letter (1 Peter), the end of all things is coming. My words, heart, and work should be leading up to Jesus’ return.

Do I fail to live like this? Yes. Is there grace and million second chances? Yes. These are great ideas and concepts, but I don’t live in the conceptual world - I live in the practical one. Practically how can I walk by faith in these ideas?

When others praise me for my talents, hard work, or efforts, I need to say thank you. But then highlight the ways God sustained and worked in me. I need to verbally acknowledge the role he had in that victory. Because even though I want to believe that “it’s all me”, it’s so not. My talents comes from God. My gifts come from God. My perseverance, initiative, endurance, strength, all come directly from God. Even sometimes in a supernatural, amazing way when I’m clearly failing and have no ability on my own.

I’ve seen this play out again and again. So I need to be reminded of those times, and confess to God (and others), when I’m tempted to steal back the glory that only belongs to him. I need to recognize my sin. I need to remember the promise of the gospel, the good news that tells me that I have so many new chances. And I need to respond in faith by giving back the glory to God, honouring him in my speech, heart, and actions.

It’s hard friends. But it’s so worth it. I invite you to join me.