I expect to step on a few toes with this one. Soli Deo Gloria is about one thing: God getting all the glory. We pay this great lip service, but we do a terrible job honoring it in our churches. Think about how many folks do things in church hoping that someone will praise them. If we’re absolutely honest with ourselves, “many folks” includes ourselves. I’ve certainly been guilty of this sin more times than I’d like to admit. I volunteer for something because I think that “it’s what is expected” or because there is some limelight to the task at hand. However, those are the wrong attitudes to take. Everything we do should be for the glory of God. Nothing should be reserved for ourselves. Nothing should be reserved for any person. Only God is deserving.
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”
– Isaiah 6:1-3, ESV
And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,
“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come!”
And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
“Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.”
– Revelation 4:8-11, ESV
I’ve quoted from both the Old and New Testaments because I wanted to show you the consistency of the experience between Isaiah and John. In both, only God is being praised and glorified. In the case of John, we even see that there are 24 elders who have been crowned. That would mean, on human terms, that they are worthy of some sort of glory, right? Not so. They are using their crowns to glorify God further. In both scenes it is clear that Soli Deo Gloria is the way it works in heaven.
That should be the way it works on earth (“…Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…“). However, we have a tendency to “deify” our heroes. This could be your pastor. Remember, he or she is a sinner, just like you or me. He or she needs the risen Christ for the salvation of sins, just like you or me. It could be a famous personality, such as a TV or radio Bible teacher. It could be an author. It could be a missionary. It could be a departed saint. It could be the head of some organization. There’s not a problem recognizing folks for their diligent work for the Kingdom. We should be doing that quite often. We should seek to encourage one another constantly when we see one another pursuing God’s plan. This is true of the lay person as well as a member of ministry staff. However, when we go past recognition to something resembling glory, we have a problem. We have a big problem. Only God should be glorified. Only God must be glorified. Only He is deserving of it.
Are you doing things within the Church for your own glory? Or are you unintentionally glorifying someone else’s work instead of God? If so, seek to stop immediately. Don’t worry, glory is coming. Romans 8:17 reminds us that when the time is right, God will glorify those whom He calls to be His children. So don’t worry about the glory. Don’t worry about someone else’s glory. Only worry about giving God all the glory. Soli Deo Gloria, glory to God alone!