Made to Glorify God

Allie Marie SmithBy Allie Marie Smith9 Minutes

We live in a self-glorifying culture. The path to happiness seems paved with self-worship and self-promotion. We see celebrities, professional athletes, and influencers get rewarded for their self-exaltation. They get the golden ticket and the rest of us try to follow suit or wonder why we’re not quite enough. Their way of living sparkles and shines, but eventually the glitter wears off. The “likes” stop coming. Someone else shinier comes along. Their fans or followers turn their backs on them. We have bought into the lie that ultimate happiness is found when we self-actualize, which means “to realize fully one’s potential.”

As a teen, I lived in constant self-focus. I prided myself on how I looked or performed in school and athletic activities. If I got attention from a guy, got an A on my exam, or scored a goal in soccer, I was proud of myself. I felt like I was worthy and had significance. But if I fell short of my self-imposed expectations, I was deflated. I’m grateful that in coming undone, I realized how empty it was to live for myself when it was God who gave me breath and every good thing.

Our true purpose is popularly summarized in the Westminster Shorter Catechism, which says our chief end or purpose is “to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” In the Old Testament, the word “glory” means splendor or greatness. In the New Testament it means “dignity, honor, praise and worship.” To glorify God means to recognize God’s greatness and to worship Him and give Him praise. Author and pastor John Piper says, “’Glorifying’ means feeling and thinking and acting in ways that reflect his greatness, that make much of God, that give evidence of the supreme greatness of all his attributes and the all-satisfying beauty of his manifold perfections.” Piper has also said, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” Don’t you want to be a woman who makes much of God, whose life gives evidence for His goodness and beauty?

As God’s image bearers, our chief purpose is to glorify Him with our lives, to enjoy His goodness, and to make Him known, God does not need us to glorify Him. We can’t add to or take away His glory, but as followers of Christ, we can honor, praise, and worship Him through our thoughts, actions, and relationships. When we live in a way that genuinely glorifies God, we are the most alive and happy. If we miss out on this chief purpose of our lives, we miss out on living our best lives.

The author of the book of Acts wrote, “For in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Every breath we take is because God has allowed it. We are dust apart from Him. It is one thing to have confidence in our self and our abilities, but it is another to become prideful of them. Glorifying God requires a posture of humility. When we live a life fixed on adoring and praising God, our eyes turn away from ourselves, and we actually become more emotionally healthy in the process. We are happier when we are living for God rather than striving to make ourselves worthy of love and attention. We are also more enjoyable to be around because our gaze shifts from inward to outward.

First Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” What would it look like for you to glorify God in all you do? Part of this looks like acknowledging that the gifts, talents, abilities, and blessings you have flow from God and are not of your own making. The other part is joyfully experiencing these things as good gifts from God.

It can be easier to glorify God when things are going well, but we can also do so during seasons of disappointment and suffering. Over the last several years, through a young women’s conference I help direct, I’ve had the privilege of getting to know a phenomenal woman who has glorified God through the good and hard days of her life. At the age of thirteen, Bethany Hamilton lost her left arm when she was attacked by a fourteen-foot tiger shark while surfing. Prior to the attack, Bethany was on course to become one of the world’s top female surfers.

Just one month after losing her arm, Bethany got back on her board and within two years had won her first national surfing title, becoming a worldwide inspiration. The world has since watched in awe as she has pushed the limits, dominated the water, and charged some of the world’s biggest waves. Through it all, she has remained humble and has given God glory during the good and hard times.

When deciding whether or not to do interviews following the attack, she told her mom, “I’m okay with doing interviews if you guys think that God can use me.” Though she’d rather be surfing than be in a TV interview or on a stage, Bethany has come to accept the platform God has given her and used it to point others to Jesus. She shared in her book Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board: “I don’t really want people looking to me for inspiration. I just want to be a sign along the way that points toward heaven.”

In our culture, it seems like the girl who elevates herself gets the most attention. The girl with the most followers gets the guy, gets the book deal, and gets her dreams realized. But there is another way to live. We can live in a way that shines the spotlight on God, knowing that He is the giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17).

I have come to believe that any good in me is God in me. As I enjoy God and the physical and spiritual gifts He has placed in my life, I naturally glorify Him and experience great joy and happiness in the process. When I look back on my teenage years, which I spent detached from God, I see the bottomless void I was trying to fill by trying to make myself captivating and worthy of attention. When we turn away from our self-centered pursuits and accept that our chief purpose is to adore and enjoy God, we really begin to shine. The heaviness in our hearts slowly begins to lighten as we take the pressure off ourselves to find our purpose and relax into the destiny God has for us: to be loved by Christ, to love others well, and to make Him known.

Excerpted from Wonderfully Made: Discover the Identity, Love, and Worthy You Were Created For by Allie Marie Smith (© 2021). Published by Moody Publishers. Used by permission.