In a recent blog post entitled “Brothers, Praise Someone Other Than God” on the Desiring God website, Sam Crabtree argues for the God-glorifying goodness of praising other people. His argument, in essence, is that God is imaged forth in, and working through, the lives of individual people in such a way that we ought to recognize and celebrate what we see of Him in those individuals.
I want to stand back from that and say: if that’s the case, and if I am one of those individuals, is there any reason that I should not likewise value His image in me, in my self? Should I recognize and celebrate the glory of God in the lives of others but ignore and belittle it in my self? Is God imaged forth in every other individual, but not in me – just because it happens to be me? If God created me for His glory, and if I am to enjoy what I see of Him in everything He has created, then I am to enjoy what I see of Him in my self – and that’s not (automatically) a bad thing. Crabtree says:
in the same way that the heavens are declaring the glory of God (Psalm 19:1), God’s common kindness in everyone around us (both saint and sinner) is declaring his glory as well. But just as God does not receive as much glory when we fail to pause, observe the heavens, and verbalize our praise, so he does not receive as much glory when we fail to pause, observe his goodness in others’ lives around us, and verbalize our praise.
So, God’s glory is manifest and waiting to be enjoyed and properly responded to in everything that he created – including individual men and women… including you (and me). But, God is not shown to be as glorious as He is apart from our proper responses to His manifest glory. The proper response to His glory in other things and other people is to “pause, observe, and verbalize our praise”. This means to intentionally make one’s self consciously aware of the glory (whether it be in the stars, in a friend, or in the mirror), to see it in the full context (it is ultimately God’s glory communicated through His creation), and then to celebrate it accordingly.
I titled this post “Brothers, Value Your Self” rather than “Brothers, Praise Your Self” because praise is simply one expression and response (an external one) to that which is valued – and it often is not a proper response to the value one has for one’s self. One praises the value of other things or other people because those things are outside of one’s self, and therefore an external expression of value (praise) is appropriate. However, in valuing something about your self, an external expression (verbalized praise) would, in most cases, be inappropriate – or at least, unwarranted. Rather, the proper response is to verbalize the value to yourself – to hold before yourself the objective value of God’s glory in your self; to enjoy with unfettered and unashamed abandon, the glory of God in your self, the same way that you would enjoy His glory in a sunset, or in a heroic historical figure.
You honor God’s glory most when you are most fully aware of, and most fully satisfied by, His glory in everything in your life. To dismiss, ignore, belittle, or despise His glory in anything in particular, is to despise His glory in general. You, your self, your nature as a very image of God, are the most intimate and most radiant expression of God’s glory in your life. Don’t despise His glory by despising your self. Further, don’t miss the opportunity to enthrall yourself with His glory by enthralling yourself with all that He means to do in you and through you.
Crabtree ends with a helpful note:
There is something defective about a person who does not want to be praised by God. Every person in existence should want to hear God say at the end of his life, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
God is not blind or ambivalent about His glory in you, specifically – and He is not quiet or shy about it either. When God celebrates His glory in you, will you – in mock ‘humility’ – decide not to join Him in that celebration? How do you think He would feel about that? Do you suppose that God desires to celebrate His glory in a creature who tries to ‘one-up’ Him morally, by denying the praise? Or, does He desire to celebrate His glory in a creature who will joyously lose himself in the same celebration?
Brothers, value all of that which is valuable – including that which is valuable in your self.
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