The Glory We Have to Give to God

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Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner? And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:12-19)

51114148986_86a5d7d59d_w[Note that although only one of the ten who were healed returned to give glory to God and that God says it was his faith that made him well, Christ does not withdraw the blessing of healing from the other nine. He doesn’t punish them for their failure, but does note their ungratefulness to contrast them with the ‘stranger’ (non-Jew) who behaves properly. The grace of God is a free gift given to all, both the good and the wicked. “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:44-45).]

The Lord Jesus makes a point that of the 10 lepers He cured, only the Samaritan returns to give glory (Greek: doxa = worship) to God, while the nine Jews who were healed fail to do so. Doxa (glory) is in the word Orthodox, sometimes translated as giving ‘right glory’ or ‘correct worship’ to God. Christ is perhaps pointing out that His fellow Jews have become extremely ungrateful to God even though they like to boast about being God’s chosen people. Jesus was perhaps prophesying about the change that was coming to Judaism and the world as God opened salvation to all the people of the world rather than just to the ‘chosen’ people, the Jews. He was giving His fellow Jews fair warning that they had lost God’s favor through their own behavior. St John Chrysostom speaks to us about always giving glory to God and gives us some ideas as to how we can do it. It is not only ancient Jews who forget that as God’s people we all are always to give glory to our Creator and Savior, for many Christians fail on this account as well and risk the same consequences as those ancients who failed to give glory to God:

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This is why, in exhorting others to take heed of virtue in all things, he said: Whether you eat or drink, or do anything else, do all for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Notice, please, the exactness of his exhortation. Let all the things which you undertake and accomplish have this root and foundation, namely, that they end to the glory of God, and let no action of yours fail to have this foundation.  . . .

But how is it possible to glorify God? By living for the glory of God and making our life shine in the way of which He spoke elsewhere when He said: Let your light shine before men, in order that they may see your good works and give glory to your father in heaven (Matthew 5:16). Nothing brings such glory to our Master as does the best conduct. Just as the light of the sun illumines with its rays the faces of those who look upon it, so virtue draws all who look on it to contemplate it and moves those who are well disposed to glorify the Master. Let us do everything we do in such a way as to move each one who sees us to glorify God, for it is written: If you do anything, do all for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10: 31).

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What do I mean? If you ever wish to associate with someone, make sure that you do not give your attention to those who enjoy health and wealth and fame as the world sees it, but take care of those in affliction, those in critical circumstances, those in prison, those who are utterly deserted and enjoy no consolation. Put a high value on associating with these; for from them you shall receive such profit, you will be a better lover of the true wisdom, and you will do all for the glory of God. And if you must visit someone, prefer to pay this honor to orphans, widows, and those in want rather than to those who enjoy reputation and fame. God himself has said: I am the father of orphans and the protector of widows (Psalm 67:6). And again: Judge for the fatherless, defend the widow. Then come and let us talk sayeth the Lord (Isaiah 1:17-18).

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If you wish merely to go to the marketplace, remember the exhortation of the Apostle when he says: If you do anything do all for the glory of God. Do not waste your time in senseless and harmful meetings, but run to the house of God, that your body and soul together may receive the greatest profit. And if we talk with anybody, let us do so with modesty and great meekness; let us refrain from prolonging conversations on worldly topics which bring us no benefit; but let us continue to talk of the things which will bring great profit to those who hear and which will set us free from all reproach. (BAPTISMAL INSTRUCTIONS, pp 96-98)

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[Giving glory to God is an interesting concept for it implies that we humans have glory to give to God! St Irenaeus said, “The glory of God is man fully alive.” When we are fully human as God created us to be (in His image; see Genesis 1:26-27 and 1 Corinthians 11:7) we are full of God’s glory, just as heaven and earth are full of His glory (as we sing in the Divine Liturgy). God looks for us to give Him our glory and God accepts our gift!]

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