“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” 2 Corinthians 4:17
Glory is one of those words that Christians use so frequently that we may not realize that we don’t actually know what it means. It’s not our fault, really – we translate “glory” from 13 different Hebrew and Greek words in the bible; plus, it’s a very intangible concept. Glory means … angels singing to God? Blinding light emanating from the face of Jesus? Every spiritual being in heaven giving God his well-earned kudos?
Although the word “glory” is associated with angels and heaven and those seemingly-far-from-earth things (like in Psalm 96:6: “Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary”), the glory of God also has far-reaching implications for our everyday lives, right here on earth. Giving God glory has the power to transform the entire paradigm you carry about your past, present and future!
How is this possible? Let’s look at one particular word that gets translated into “glory”: the Hebrew word kavod.
What Does the Word Kavod Mean in the Bible?
There are seven different Hebrew words that can be translated into “glory” in English and five Greek words – but I will not be diving into each of those definitions in this article.
But I will dive into the word kavod. This one word is more than enough for us to chew on and contemplate as we understand what God’s glory – an intangible, ethereal, far-away concept, means for us in a very real sense, every day of our lives.
Kavod is related to the word kaved, meaning “heavy.” Weightiness. Although something being heavy might seem unrelated to angels singing in heaven, think about it for a moment.
When you show honor to someone by weighing their opinion of where to go to dinner over your own, you are giving greater weight to what they want. When you worry about your baby while you are at work, you are giving your thoughts of them more weight than the thoughts of what is in front of you. When you choose to tell your spouse about the good conversation you had with a client instead of all of the negative ones, you are giving greater weight to the good.
The Jewish Journal even connects this concept to how heavier people used to be respected more: “The Hebrew kavod is related to kaved, meaning ‘heavy.’ Indeed, until not long ago, the heavier a person was, the more respectable he or she was, for rich people could afford to eat whatever they wished, whereas poor people were undernourished, eating very little and looking light, unimportant.”
Strong’s Concordance translates “kavod” as abundance, riches, honor, dignity, reverence, reputation, and of course, glory.
Glory means weightiness, and it also means so much more than that.
A Fuller Picture of the Word Kavod
Others have written on the subject much more eloquently than I, so allow me to quote them to give you a fuller picture of this majestic word:
“…glory is like poetry. It is the rustle of the leaves in the fall. It is the breathtaking view of the mountains that makes you cry. It is the ocean crashing onto the shore. It is in the shining of the moon and stars (1 Corinthians 15:41)!” – Amanda Schenkenberger
“[Glory is] an attempt to put into words what God is like in his magnificence and purity. It refers to his fullness of all that is good.” – John Piper
“Glory can be described as the full weight of God’s nature. All of His goodness and faithfulness, all of the ‘I AM’ statements He makes about Himself, all of His power and kingliness, all of His creativity, holiness, righteousness, wrath, and love, all of these things make up His glory. Glory is not one thing: it’s all the things about God!” – Amanda Schenkenberger
And finally, I love this exposition on the moment God first enters his tabernacle:
“In Exodus 40:34-35, the glory described is also very tangibly felt. It’s implied as an active, inescapable presence:
‘Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.’” – Avital Snow
It’s no wonder that we have trouble translating this word! It encompasses so much. Just like how the unrelenting weightiness of gravity permeates and rules over our entire natural world, so does God’s glory, goodness, and majesty.
Who knew this one five-letter word could hold so much … weight?
So what does this mean for our day-to-day lives? Even when we can’t emotionally connect to the glory of God through a worship service or perfect spring weather every single day, we can give weight to God through our actions and mindset. And we can accomplish this all through – at the most basic level – seeing the glass as half full.
Choose to Give Weight to God's Goodness
There are many applications of how we can show glory to God in our lives and experience his glory in return. I won’t try to encompass all of that. But one concept that has been helping my emotional, mental, and spiritual health lately has been choosing to give greater weight to the good.
To see the glass of my life–my past, present and future–as half full. Giving weight to God’s goodness, showing deference to his character, when I view the circumstances of my life at all times.
Does that sound too hippy dippy? Here’s what I mean.
We can always choose what we focus on. We can choose to focus on the cold temperature or on the blue sky. On the burnt chicken or on how sweet it was of your wife to try a new recipe for you. On the fact you got fired or on the new opportunities God is presenting you with.
I believe that when we give weight to the bad, we are giving glory to Satan.
We allow ourselves to think that Satan is the end-all-be-all as if he has the power to declare anything in our lives as irrevocably bad.
But Romans 8:28 reminds us that, in all things, God works for the GOOD of those who love him. And, Revelation 21:4 tells us that Jesus will wipe away every tear, and death, mourning, and pain will be a thing of the past. God has the final say, every time. Love wins.
Am I saying that Christians should over-spiritualize their sadness and not process their grief? Of course not. There is a whole book of the bible called Lamentations, after all. I am just inviting us to open ourselves up to the possibility that God really, truly is good and that means that our lives in him are good as well. At their core. In their essence. Good.
So how can you change your mind to believe this?
1. Give God’s Goodness Greater Weight in Your Past
Maybe when you think of your past, part of you automatically winces. Maybe your childhood was rife with abuse. Maybe you lost everything in a foolish business deal and had to start over. Maybe your past is catching up to you, and all you can see was all the hurt that other people caused you.
I believe you. God believes you. God sees you. He sees your pain.
But … or maybe “and …” there is good to behold.
Maybe your childhood was abusive. But maybe you still had lots of time to climb trees and breathe fresh air and build forts. Maybe your family turned their back on you, but you had amazing grandparents or mentors. Maybe you felt all alone, but in that alone space, you truly learned who you are and teach other people how to do the same.
See where I’m going?
Maybe you did lose everything in that business deal. But what did God teach you through that? Did he teach you how to discern safe and unsafe people? Did that lesson cause you to reach out to those around you, and strengthen your friendships? Did it bring you to your knees before God in a way that you never had before?
Can you give greater weight to these good lessons–BECAUSE God’s character himself is good–instead of the hardship that came from that time?
And maybe you have had 10 people in your life hurt you deeply. But have there been 10 more that have been there for you? 20 more that have opened their home to you, wiped your tears, or laughed with you in the good times?
I am not making light of any hardship you have gone through. It is heavy. I’m just pointing out that no matter what it is, God’s goodness is heavier.
2. Give God’s Goodness Greater Weight in Your Present
When someone asks, “How was your day?” do you typically answer with the bad or good first?
I want to challenge you that even if you do have the world’s worst day and you need to vent, start by saying ONE good thing. Just one moment or circumstance that felt light. Maybe it was the cup of coffee you had before all hell broke loose. Maybe it was simply the fact that you woke up that morning. But I promise you, no matter how bad your day was, if you are in God’s beautiful world and if you are a favored child of the Almighty, there is always at least one good thing you can choose to focus on.
One amazingly simple way to practice this is by The Daily Examen. Although the questions will differ, a Daily Examen is essentially a spiritual practice where you reflect back on your day, looking for ways that the Spirit was working or opportunities you may have missed but won’t miss again.
You can train your brain over time to notice these little kisses from God and the ways that he is moving in your life. Before you know it, your mind will pick up on these moments without you having to try! All because you chose to give weight to the good.
As well, in our everyday lives, one way to show kavod to God is to show kavod to others. You can acknowledge God’s divinity by giving weight to others who are made in the image of God. By showing them their great worth through your kindness and deference, you are reflecting that you see God’s worthiness in them. It’s a beautiful circle.
3. Give God’s Goodness Greater Weight in Your Future
The way that I am starting to see faith is essentially this: to choose to believe God’s goodness will have the final say.
Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
When we have confidence in what we hope for – which, of course, is always some sort of manifestation of God’s goodness – we are giving God’s goodness the weight it deserves.
Faith is choosing to operate on what we know of God’s character rather than what we can see of our circumstances. So even if things in front of us look bleak, we can choose to operate and make decisions based on God’s kindness, sweetness, love and sovereignty.
It’s okay to believe that your future holds good and not scary things. It’s okay to believe that he will give you that promotion, he will heal that disease, he will bring you that relationship, and he will lead you to the right church.
I think in the Church, we can hold back from hoping for what we really want in the name of “surrendering to God’s will,” but really, it’s because we’re afraid of being disappointed. We think that Satan’s badness will have the final say and will weigh more – rather than God’s goodness.
But even if our circumstances seem to tell us that story, God’s goodness will always outweigh Satan’s evil. And I think we’d be surprised how many “yeses” we get from God when we are looking for them. It’s not just all about waiting until heaven. Even David asked to see God’s goodness in this lifetime (Psalm 27:13).
But even if we do have to wait until heaven to see God’s goodness – my gosh, will we see it. The God of peace will soon crush Satan underneath our feet (Romans 16:20), and Jesus will personally wipe away every one of our tears (Revelation 21:4). Good will win.
It really is so crazy to think about how every hard thing we go through on Earth will be erased in Heaven. The only things that will remain will be the lessons we learned from them, how they refined our character, and how they brought us closer to God and other people. But every tear will be wiped away.
Friend, God loves you so much, and really is that good. I pray that you start to believe in his goodness more and more, little by little. Giving God his due glory will change your life in the most beautiful and tangible way–both in the heavenly realms and here on earth. In the angelic and the mundane, God’s goodness weighs around us, as abundant and tangible as gravity itself.
The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines.
Photo courtesy: Zac Durant/Unsplash
Kelly-Jayne McGlynn is a former editor at Crosswalk.com. She sees the act of expression, whether through writing or art, as a way to co-create with God and experience him deeper. Check out her handmade earrings on Instagram and her website for more of her thoughts on connecting with God through creative endeavors.