A significant part of our lives is driven by the pursuit of two words: “Well done.” Today, Barry Cooper observes that the pursuit of glory is not a bad thing—as long as we’re seeking it in the right place.
When I was a child, what made me happiest was doing something that made my parents say, “Well done.” When I would act in a school play or run onto a football field or write a little story, their praise meant more to me than anyone or anything else.
Now, as a parent myself, even though our daughter isn’t yet able to speak, I can see on her face what a difference those words make: well done.
And all of us know what happens when those words are absent. The absence of “well done” when we’re growing up can be devastating. Even as adults, deep in our hearts, we long for approval, for praise, for recognition. It gives us great joy when we receive it and a real sense of loss when we don’t.
Even now, I wonder how much of what I do is motivated at least partly in the hope that my dad will say, “Well done, son.”
One way of describing the approval, praise, and recognition we yearn for is glory. As human beings, you and I are glory seekers. We try to get glory from our parents, yes, but also from our jobs, our status, our relationships, our achievements. And though we often look for it in the wrong places, places that don’t ultimately satisfy us, that hunger for glory is a good and God-given thing. Because you and I have been made for glory.
Romans chapter 2 verse 7 says, “To those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, God will give eternal life.” So glory ought to motivate us in everyday life. Jesus chastises people not for seeking glory but for seeking it in the wrong places. And one of those wrong places is seeking glory from other people rather than from God. “How can you believe,” He says to the religious people in John chapter 5, “when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?”
However, the road to finding the glory “that comes from the only God” is not some beautiful scenic path that gets more and more lovely with every passing minute, like a gently climbing road in the Swiss Alps.
In fact, it passes through a very rough neighborhood. The road to glory goes through Gethsemane and Golgotha. Jesus Himself, after His resurrection, told His disciples, “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” If it was necessary for the King Himself to go through suffering to get to glory, how much more so for those who follow Him?
But it’s not as if suffering is some kind of obstacle to glory. Suffering actually prepares us for glory. Paul says in 2 Corinthians chapter 4 verse 17: “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” That’s why James says, “Count it all joy when you face all kinds of trials.” The person who remains steadfast under trial will receive the glorious crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him.
You and I, if we’re united with Christ, will share in His glory as well as His sufferings. “The glory that you have given me,” Jesus says to His Father, “I have given to them.”
The kind of glory you and I hunger after isn’t found in a particular achievement or a particular award. It’s not found in the attainment of a certain status or a certain salary. It’s not found in the praise of other human beings either.
The glory that will satisfy us as we long to be satisfied is found only in the One who is called “the Lord of glory.” And you will find it in the moment when He looks at you and says, “Well done.”