The Scriptures speak a great deal about glory, but as earth-bound novices, we tend to shy away from the subject. We think that the whole thing is beyond our grasp. And yet, the Bible is very clear that glory is part of our experience here in this world, and so we need to learn how to look at the creation around us with scriptural eyes. There is glory in the ordinary, which we will see if we allow the Bible to shape our definitions.
All glory originates with God, as indeed, all things originate with Him. And when glory is apparent in this world, it is because He has determined to bestow it. One of the aspects of the word is the concept of weight, or heaviness. The apostle Paul alludes to this connotation when he refers to our resurrected and eternal future. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor. 4:17). Glory is a weight, but not an oppressive weight. It is a weight that brings glory, and it will be a glory to be able to carry that weight. Glory is not a light, sparkly thing off in the distance, but is rather something that creates a substantive heft in the hand, like ten pounds of gold. If someone handed something like that to you, it would steady you right up.
Now Scripture refers to marriage in terms of glory. Paul says that the man is the image and glory of God, and he says that the woman is the glory of man. (1 Cor. 11:7). Apart from woman, a man can be way too light—footloose. God gives the gold of woman to a man to steady him right up. If he understands what is happening, it does too. But there is reciprocity in it also. Man brings glory into the relationship also, and the woman benefits from that masculine glory. Glory answers to glory, and the respective weight that is brought here is something which, when rendered in obedience to God, balances gloriously.
Having noted this element of glory, I want to take a moment to divide it. There are different kinds of glory, and not just with the differences we have already noted between masculine and feminine glory. Since glory originates with God, we should note that there is an essential glory within the Godhead—referring to the way God is. Then there is glory in how He manifests himself—in the Shekinah glory, for example, or in the forbidding glory cloud on Mt. Sinai, or in the glory of the cherubim in Ezekiel’s vision. There is the original glory, and then there is the overflow of glorious gifts and manifestations.
In the same kind of way, we as creatures can have the glory of essential character, and we can also have glory that is manifested externally—what might be called the glory of gifts. Because God is absolutely holy, there is never any discrepancy between His essential glory, and the overflow of glory that He reveals. There is utter consistency between them.
But we are fallen creatures . . . and so this is not true. There are tattered remnants of our original glory still about us, and in the redemption that Christ has brought to us, we see that there is a glory being reconstructed in us. Nevertheless, the glory of our gifts is often greater than the glory of our character, the glory of the heart. Because of the reality of sin, a discrepancy becomes possible. Our task, as the Spirit of God enables us, is gradually, over the course of our lives, to narrow that discrepancy. In the resurrection, it will be eliminated entirely, but God wants us to learn how, by His grace, to eliminate as much of it as we can now. This is what the Bible calls our sanctification. In marriage, two sinners are undertaking this challenging and rewarding journey together.
We are a sinful people, living among other sinners, and there is always a pressing temptation, as we would say it, “to put our best foot forward.” This is the strategy that tries to hide the discrepancy instead of narrowing it. This is much harder to do in the close confines of marriage, and it is really best not to try. You are now on pilgrimage together, and complete openness between you will be a true blessing.
But the temptation will be to do a “hide the discrepancy trick” with your gifts, which are considerable, and which really do carry the glory of God with them.
Jeremiah, you are a born performer, and a talented one. In your case, the temptation to lean on your gifts will be this. When faced with the realization that you have abdicated somehow in a husbandly responsibility, the temptation will be to put on a show. Instead of actually owning your responsibility, there will be a temptation to grab a top hat and cane, and do a little number. If you do this too many times, I can assure you that your audience of one will become decreasingly appreciative. The gifts of being able to perform are designed by God to adorn a character that takes responsibility, not cover for character that can’t be bothered. My charge to you is to labor to have your gifts and character line up.
Kelsey, as those who know you understand, you are trained in decoration and design. These are true gifts also, and there is a real glory in them. But if you allow the glory of these gifts to distract you, then this will be the temptation that comes to you. As all wives know, husbands tend to have that forlorn look that invites a little redesign and redecoration. So much is expected, and is part of the whole point. What ex-bachelor has not discovered, for example, that an old pair of pants has quietly disappeared, with the world being a much better place for it? But there is a way of treating a husband as a design project, as a fresh notebook for your sketches, that simply doesn’t work. Woman is the glory of man, as we noted earlier, but as every good designer knows, you have to honor and respect the original material you are working with. This is one of the reasons why wives are told to respect their husbands. So this is not a respect that views a finished sculpture from behind a velvet rope, but rather the kind of respect that a good sculptor has for the granite. Your presence in Jeremiah’s life will be transformative, and so there is no need for it to be meddlesome.
Knowing the two of you, and knowing your faith in Jesus Christ, and your commitment to Him, I have every confidence that the Spirit of God is in this union, and that His presence here will continue throughout your marriage.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, amen.