This study is based upon the New City Catechism.
You shall therefore love the Lord your God and keep his charge, his statutes, his rules, and his commandments always. (Deuteronomy 11:1)
After learning “God created us male and female in his own image to glorify him,” a natural question is, “How can we glorify God?” All men glorify God intrinsically, by the Imago Dei, but we are also responsible for glorifying God volitionally – by choice and deliberation. How are we to fulfil this great, fundamental duty? For God to be “glorified” means for Him to be put on display, His perfections manifested. When God is glorified, He is made delightfully famous. To glorify God aright, we must do so according to His prescriptions: His Word, wherein all that be needed for righteousness is manifest (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Our text for consideration, to learn how we might glorify our great God, is Deuteronomy 11:1, where we are commissioned to love God and keep his commandments.
First, we can glorify God by loving him. Love, in essence, is the outward trajectory of divine perfections – God’s holiness projected to others. Love is not generic affection or passion, it is always theocentric, an arrow with God as the target. (footnote 1) This is true of the eternal Trinity. God’s eternal love for Himself is not “His tendency to benefit others,” but rather “His tendency to project Himself upon others.” To love God is to stamp His seal of ownership upon your life and consecrate yourself to Him. Loving God does not mean you have undefinable emotions for Him. It means you cover everything in His holiness: “All I have is Yours, Oh God. I will be holy as You are holy.”
Love is not generic affection or passion, it is always theocentric, an arrow with God as the target.Tweet
From loving God come affections for God. Our affections glorify God because, when we are joyful in Him, we declare He is the most satisfying, beautiful, good being. To be affectionate for God is to glorify Him as being well worth devotion and praise. From loving God come also ambitions for God. Whereas affections display inward gratification, ambitions display outward gratification. When we have ambitions, motivations, great thoughts about serving God, we glorify God because He is displayed to be worthy of our labor and sacrifice. A schedule molded around the great ambition, “How might I serve God this week?” makes God out as one deserving of our time and energy.
Second, we can glorify God by obeying his commands and law. While affections and ambitions grow from a love of God, obeying God is the substance of love itself. Love and obedience to God are inseparable, typically indistinguishable. The glory and light of Christendom (Philippians 2:15b) has always been her obedience and devotion to God (vv.12-15a). The darkest times in the church have always have always been congruent with the greatest demonstrations of covenant disobedience. Christ summarized the union of love and obedience: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments,” (John 14:15). He later says explicitly that God is glorified when we bear much fruit (i.e. the fruit which is obedience) and so prove to be His disciples (15:8). John permits little doubt on the matter: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments,” (1 John 5:3). Obedience to God is the substance of love.
Obedience, the very essence of love, glorifies God by presenting Him as worthy of all devotion and conformity. Obedience says, “God is my Creator, my Lord. Therefore, I will submit to Him.” Obedience requires knowledge of Scripture, where God’s commands and law are preserved (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Obedience requires humility to the point of great loss and sacrifice (Philippians 2:5-8), for the world despises tangible, visible devotion to God’s moral precepts (John 15:18-25). God’s glory in our obedience comes at a price. Obedience requires a stout heart, not so much for the wicked who loose arrows at the stomach, but on account of the righteous who stab at the back (e.g. Matthew 26:14-16) as they shame the blood of the covenant by which they were sanctified (Hebrews 10:29; cf. 1 John 2:19).
When all is examined, Deuteronomy 11:1 presents us with a simple, straight-forward means of glorifying God: obey Him. This requires no great intellect or training. Neither do we need good health or comfort to accomplish it. Therefore, if we refrain any longer from glorifying God, we are without excuse.
Question VI: How can we glorify God?
Answer: By loving him and by obeying his commands and law.
Footnote 1: To love someone, then, does not mean you have great emotions for them. Rather, it means you project God’s holiness upon them. This happens when you submit your activity to God’s holiness and encourage similar submission in others. Love delights in God, in His perfections, and calls upon others to do the same. For example, there is not true love in a homosexual relationship. They are not projecting God’s holiness upon one another, they are projecting their own emotions and agendas.