Falling Short of the Glory of God

Romans 3:23,for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”

What does it mean to "fall short of the glory of God"? It means that none of us has trusted and obeyed God the way we should. Instead we have trusted ourselves. We have turned from his commandments. We thought we knew a better way. In Romans 1:22–23 it says, "Although they knew God they did not glorify him as God or give thanks to him . . . but exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images . . . "

This is what it means to fall short of the glory of God - to exchange it for something else. God offers us the glory of his beauty and strength and generosity and wisdom for our enjoyment, and we refuse it and fall in love with the things he has made. He offers us himself as our infinite treasure and we trade him in for a secondhand pleasure.

The Scriptures declare that God made us for His glory. "Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth, whom I created for my glory." (Isaiah 43:6-7)

Since God made us for his glory, it is our duty, therefore, as his creatures, to live for his glory by prizing, praising, and proclaiming Him, as the most valuable and worthy of all beings. Because of His immeasurable worth, we should worship Him exclusively, affectionately, pervasively, gratefully, and obediently.

But instead of glorifying God by loving him, we have dishonored him through neglect or disdain, and by loving other things more.

Instead of glorifying God by trusting him, we have dishonored him by trying to find security and hope in ourselves and our money and our technology and our weapons, but not in God.

Instead of glorifying God by being thankful to him for life and breath and everything, we have dishonored him by ignoring his generosity and by treating life as a right and happiness as something we deserve.

Instead of glorifying God by obeying him, we have dishonored him by disregarding or rejecting his counsel for our sexuality, and our finances, and our job, and our attitudes, and our politics, and almost everything else in our life.

The issue between us and God is not whether we have pleased men, but whether we have utterly disdained the infinite worth of the glory of our Maker. And we have. All of us have.

The Presbyterian catechism declares that the chief end or reason for our existence is “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

With such weight and meaning attached to the “glory of the Lord”, what is the meaning of this load-bearing word of Scripture?

Glory is primarily translated from two words: (1) the Hebrew “kabod” which means heavy, weighty, profoundly important or impressive; (2) the Greek “doxa” which means brightness, splendor, magnificence, fame, or excellent reputation. Taken together, the word “glory” embraces the following three ideas:

Weightiness or Heaviness. Glory communicates a gravity, immensity, and depth that arises from the aura and sheer magnificence of God’s presence. It speaks of a reality of infinite greatness and unspeakable worth. The old hippies’ saying, “Heavy!” comes close to communicating this aspect of glory.

Beauty and Splendor. Glory communicates brightness, radiance, and majesty. It speaks of God’s dazzling beauty and resplendence. The glory of God is the visible manifestation of the excellence of God’s character. It shines with unequalled splendor from the infinite greatness of God. God’s glory communicates God’s beauty – God’s loveliness, attractiveness, and alluring splendor.

Honor. God’s glory demonstrates God’s unique and incomparable worthiness. It calls for the response of respect, esteem, and worship – a humble, grateful acknowledgement of God’s worthiness. This is the meaning of worship. The old English translated worship as “worth-ship”, emphasizing the worth or value of God. God uniquely possesses this inner glory and has the divine right to be acknowledged as supreme. No other being possesses this right because no other being possesses this glory. All creaturely glory is derived. God’s glory is intrinsic and original. The glory of creatures – no matter how great – is merely a reflection of the glory of God. Our sin is that we see glory in everything else beside God! We love the reflection more than the source. This is the essence of sin: “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

God’s glory is not an attribute as much as it is the sum total of all God’s attributes. In viewing God’s glory, we are not directly viewing God, but the impress and effects of His majestic greatness.

The glory of God is the source, means, and end of existence. It is the purpose and goal of all things. God will not rest until “all the earth is filled with the glory of the Lord” (Num 14:20) – until all creation is hallowed, glorified, beautified by God. For this reason, the Western church has spoken of the beatific vision – a holy and glorious vision of God that leads to the eternal enjoyment of God’s infinite and inexhaustible glory. “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36).

Join me in this prayer of praise that I pray on a regular basis, focusing on the “glory of the Lord”:

O Lord the heavens declare the glory of the Lord, and I want to join them in giving unto you the glory due Your name. I pray that You will let your glory be above all the earth O, Lord, and that the whole earth be filled with Your glory.

We rejoice in knowing that the glory of the Lord shall endure forever. Thank you, Father, that in our Lord Jesus the glory of the Lord is risen, and for that we say, "Glory to God in the highest!  And unto you O Lord, be glory in the church by Jesus Christ throughout all ages, world without end.

Like Moses of old, we plead, "Lord, please show me Your glory. Let Your Presence so fill the Meeting House until the believer‑priest cannot continue ministering because the glory of the LORD has filled the house of the LORD.

Grant us boldness Lord, to declare Your glory among the nations, Your wonders among all peoples. We call for all families of the peoples to give to the LORD glory and strength.  Give to the LORD the glory due His name.

O LORD, You are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head. 

We cry with angels and saints alike, “Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, The LORD mighty in battle.”

Let the saints be joyful in glory; Let them sing aloud on their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, And a two‑edged sword in their hand.  You are the LORD, that is Your name; And your glory You will not give to another.  So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, And His glory from the rising of the sun;

O Lord, answer the prayer of Your Son as he prayed, "Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

Truly thine O Lord is the glory. For You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power.  For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. Praise the Lord!