The Difference Between Fame and Glory
“He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness,
there will be wrath and fury.”
There is a great difference between fame and glory, yet it is fame, not glory, that most people seek. Fame can be had in this life, yet it is relatively absent of truth, it exults in that which God hates, and ends at death, or after a short time. Glory is that which is founded upon eternal truth; it accompanies righteousness and belongs to those who are devout to God. Glory is also most had after this life. And in order to obtain its fullness we must be willing to lose what the world offers, and to be “humiliated” with Christ.
The fame of this world is contrary to God, praising man for what God hates. Man praises what is ultimately vain, full of pride in the self, and indulges sinful pleasures. “This is the path of those who have foolish confidence; yet after them people approve of their boasts.” (Psalm 49:13, emphasis added) “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” (Rom 1:32)
“For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.” (1 John 2:16) Man works for these things, and all of them are contrary to God. Man looks for a “glory” that is not measured by God’s Word, righteousness, turning from evil, and founded in humility. Man seeks to obtain “glory” however he wishes, often valuing the appearance of good over true goodness, boasting of great things without having done them, etc. He builds this “glory” upon pride that is treacherous against both God and man, denying God as Master and having conceit against others. He builds upon that which vain and will perish, and not upon what is eternal. He builds upon the delight and fulfillment of ungodly and worldly desires (1 John 2:16). All of this is of those who are “self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness.” He does not work for glory, but merely for a passing fame.
In truth, true greatness and glory is only had in giving ourselves wholly to God. This is the great truth that the world misses, generation after generation. Those who give themselves wholly to God to do His will and obey Him are the only ones who truly obtain glory precisely because God alone is good. God expects that those who would be worthy of the inheritance of the saints be those who turn from this world’s “fame”, and this is because that which the world loves is evil, and true repentance runs through all desires for these things, killing them. Those are worthy of the inheritance who truly turn away from what is evil, at any cost.
When the end comes, all things will be revealed. The saint lives wholly by faith today, and yet this faith is utter reality, and the world, that which seems most real, is in a dream. The world dreams in these fallen desires, and seeks them, gaining the world and losing their souls (Matt 16:26). We must understand that the cost Christ calls us to pay is entirely for holiness, and be eager to pay it, whatever it may be.
All things hinge upon this: laying down our lives and living for Christ, or trying to keep our lives and therefore losing them (Matt 16:25). And those who humble themselves will be exalted (1 Pet 5:6) but those who exalt themselves will be humbled. The world, in sin, is always trying to exalt itself, seeking this “fame”. The Christian is to seek this humility, which is entire submission and obedience to Christ, repentance, and submission to God’s Word. These are the eternal judgements placed upon all of mankind.
We submit to God in this humility or we choose the delights of this world, choosing to do what is right in our own eyes, to deny obedience to God, to cast God’s Word behind our backs, and to growl at repentance coming near us.
In the end, it is those who have chosen to truly be humble before God that alone will be exalted: they will have true glory, just as Christ rose to glory at the end. And the ones who choose to exalt themselves will be exposed and will look upon the truth of God and His people, being utterly humiliated and confounded. True glory depends entirely upon obedience to God. Does not Christ teach us this? And He is most glorified. We must follow His example if we hope for glory.
To seek to glorify ourselves is to fail. We’re not wrong to seek glory; our great sin is that we try to steal glory that doesn’t belong to us—that which belongs to God alone, that which is built upon a lie, and that which is not founded in righteousness. Rather, the saint is to seek good works, done in truth, and trust God for the glory and judgement: Matthew 16:27, Ecclesiastes 12:14, Job 34:11, Ecclesiastes 3:17, Jeremiah 17:10.
Those who persist in “glory seeking” are not those who are seeking good! They seek their own name and are turned away from the doing of good, both towards God and man (Matt 6:2).They care nothing about what is true about themselves or about God or goodness unless it serves themselves primarily. This is the true nature of “fame”, and seeking after it makes us unable to receive any true glory. “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” (John 5:44) Therefore the Christian lays such things down so that they might seek goodness and godliness instead.
We must take this life to do goodness, defined by God alone (and not our own imaginations). This must be our aim. And in this we trust God to be the True Judge of all of mankind, “[rendering] to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.” (Rom 2:6-8)
February 26, 2021