St. Augustine defined glory as "brilliant notoriety with praise" (Clara notitia cum laude). Glory is one of those words that has several meanings, but usually describes:
- the Divine attributes and perfection of God, the brilliant manifestation of God's presence and majesty
- the commendable and highly praiseworthy qualities of man, such as wisdom and righteousness
It is also used in secular situations and often devalued: "That was a glorious dinner", "1966: Football's glory for England", and the name 'Old Glory' is given to a national flag, vintage steam locomotives and rock bands.
For the spiritual definitions of glory, it's not surprising we can see hundreds of biblical references. It is used to describe a physical and visible phenomenon (for example in Luke 2:9) revealing the majesty and character of God. Glory is praise to God and enables man to unite with God, either on earth or in heaven.
And this raises an interesting question: If glory is the brilliant manifestation of God's presence and majesty, if glory is so special that we use the word to describe an experience that man can have with God, then is it unacceptably vain for man to try to achieve glory in his own character or other attributes?
No, it's neither vanity nor vainglory if the intention of being glorious is honourable:
A few of the important biblical references to Glory
- Perfection: Isa. 40:5, John 1:14, 2:11, Acts 7:2, Rom. 1:23, 9:23, Eph. 1:12, Heb. 1:3
- Heaven: Rom. 2:7-10, Rom. 5:2, Rom. 8:18, 21; 1 Cor. 15:43; Phil. 3:3, 21; Heb. 2:10, 1 Pet. 5:1, 10
- Brilliance: Gen. 45:13, Exod. 24:16, Isa. 4:5, 59:19, 60:1, Luke 2:9, 32; Acts 22:11, 2 Cor. 3:7, 2 Thess. 1:9
- Treasure: Gen. 31:1, Ps. 49:12, Matt. 4:8, Rev. 21:24-26
- Honour and dignity: Gen. 49:6, 1 Kings 3:13, Ps. 7:5, 19:1, 29:1, John 5:44; 7:43; 12:43; 17:1, 4, 5, 10, 22, 24; Acts 2:46, Heb. 2:7, 1 Pet. 1:24
Personal desire for glory Matt. 5:16