Dwell in Me

Seeking God in the Every Day

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Defining “Glory” and Finding Joy

This post is sort of a part two to my previous post. If the last post was confusing or muddled, this one may be worse. Apologies if that’s the case.

When I had my “wrestling day,” I came to realize that I don’t value my salvation the way I should. To truly value the price that was paid for my sin, I need to recognize that my sins are great. So many people testify about salvation by saying things like “God has done so much for me, I can’t help but love him/be joyful/serve him/praise him/[enter any number of nice things for God here].”

I’ve always wondered about those people. I mean, they must have been really bad before they were saved, right? And I’m sitting here praying like the Pharisee in Luke 18:11: “God, I thank you that I am not like other people–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector.”

I am embarrassed to say that I often think that my sins aren’t so bad. I mean, I know (head knowledge) that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) but I’ve been lacking any conviction of that (gut faith).

So two nights ago, I was dutifully answering my Bible study questions (we’re studying Hebrews; this week is 2:9-3:6). And I get to: “Look up ‘glory’ in a dictionary or Bible dictionary and write its definition.”

I was feeling moved, so I pulled out my old Greek reference books (I’m a total geek, in case that wasn’t already evident!). The word used for glory is δόξη (transliterated: doxa). And my Greek word study dictionary had about 5 pages of definitions and explanation of the word. A lot of the definitions were tied to specific verses. I found it fascinating.

It had a special part about Romans 3:23. My book said that when Paul writes “fall short of the glory of God,” it means that we don’t live up to what God has intended for our lives, that we don’t line up with the image and character of God.

For some reason, that got through to me.

I may not have murdered anyone or cheated on anyone, but I do know that I have not lived up to what God intended for me. I know that I don’t align perfectly with the image and character of God. And because of that, no matter the nature of my sins, I needed a savior just as desperately as all those people who may or may not have done really bad things by our worldly definition.

And if I can see how desperately I needed salvation, how truly short of God’s glory I fall, then I can have such gratitude for what God has done for me.

And I think that gratitude is where joy begins. I can be joyful because I know what a great thing God has done for me. That gift of forgiveness–of making up for my shortcomings–outweighs the temporal pain of barrenness. It doesn’t mean I don’t feel that pain or that I don’t suffer now, just that the joy should remain throughout.

I haven’t quite gotten there yet. Still working. But as long as I am still wrestling with these things, I think I am moving forward.