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Vainglory
by Curt Klingeman
04/05/14
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John 17:20-23 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word; That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me. And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one: I in them, and Thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me (KJV).

By definition, glory means splendor or majesty and is attached to weightiness or heaviness. Splendor means brilliance or to have great brightness or luster, which denotes an extreme brightness of the Lord’s glory (see Matthew 17:2). Glory is copious in nature; it is present on a large scale. It also means dignity and honor as the result of a good opinion, and results in worship. Glory reveals the acts and attributes of God in a large variety of ways. There are too many elements of glory to be covered here, and is another area of study in of itself.

In His prayer to the Father, Jesus makes a very radical statement: “The glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them.” There are other passages of Scripture pertaining to His glory being in us (Romans 2:10; 8:18; 1Corinthians 15:40-57; Colossians 1:27, etc.), which is a mind-blower, but what is the purpose of that glory? One purpose that it serves is that it causes us to be to be one as the Body of Christ as the Father and Jesus are one. That we may be perfect or mature, and completely unified, Jesus dwelling in us, and the Father in Him. In this, we would indeed be one family. Revelation gives us an example of what oneness looks like on a very large scale. After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb (Revelation 7:9-10, KJV). Notice the large host of people from differing backgrounds that united to form one voice to glorify God. Not one person’s name is mentioned in these verses. There is only One Super Star and He is God. He alone receives the glory. If churches would embrace this atmosphere, everyone in the congregations would sing at the top of their lungs, instead of having only a few voices heard while praising and worshipping the Lord. Every voice that sings from a pure heart of worship is beautiful to God. Even the ones who sing out of key in the natural realm are in key in the spiritual. In such a setting, there is no fear of what others might think because everyone is concerned with glorifying God. He becomes the Focal Point, and the Body begins to function as the Lord intended.

Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves (KJV). When people do not embrace the true purposes of glory they enter into vainglory, which by definition means empty pride (glorying), self-conceit, and desire for praise. Even though Jesus gave them His glory by grace for higher purposes, they want to keep it for themselves and want others to glorify them as well. One basic reason for this is lust, pure and simple (see James 4:1-6). For some, however, it has more to do with an unsatisfied need of validation. Everyone needs love by design, so they can receive love from others, especially God. When that need is unfulfilled, it becomes distorted. Their thinking becomes flawed because now they embrace the idea they must earn love. Without love, no one feels validated. Unfortunately, vainglory has crept into a segment of churches. Think about it: how many say, or least want to believe they have the “best church around?” The problem is that there is only one Church and it belongs to the Lord. The Lord is undivided. Why do some get offended when they don’t get to sing the special or aren’t allowed to have a lead role in praise and worship? Unfortunately, when some minister in Word or song, they are more interested in the praise of people than the desire to obey and bless God. They are not so much concerned whether they are pleasing to God as they are to man. Bottom line, they want to be validated by others. Why is some leadership afraid to allow people to use their gifts? Is there a fear that people will give more honor to someone else, or somehow they will lose their position? Envy and jealousy are related to vainglory. There are many missed opportunities when individuals desire prominence over others. We see an extreme example of this in 3 John 1:9-10: “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church” (KJV). Imagine the richness of teaching and impartation people could have been given if John and others were received. Why is it easier for some to mourn with those who mourn than to rejoice with those that rejoice? Is it that difficult to be happy for someone else’s success, promotion, gifting and so on? Vainglory strikes again!

There has been a desire by many to experience the glory of the Lord in the Church. In order to experience the glory, we have to cooperate with its purpose. When we come into the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (see Ephesians 4:3), the atmosphere will change. When we agree as one with the Holy Spirit, He is free to manifest through us. When we make the decision to corporately glorify God in one accord, His glory is free to flow. However, if we become prideful, we might as well go home and build our own little shrines to ourselves.

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