Reading through the third chapter of Philippians, I came across a phrase that stopped me in my tracks. Paul writes, “their glory is in their shame” (Philippians 3:18-20). I thought about how much this is true of society today, and how much this has been true in my life. We tend to take pride in things God hates. What you achieve or gain on earth does not impress the Lord. You’ll earn no extra points in Heaven because of your mental, physical, or emotional conquests. The only thing impressive to our King is how much we love and obey Him.
If we’re going to glory in anything, it should be in our devotion to Christ. Yet, when talking with friends and family, how much of our conversation centers on what we are learning from the Lord? How much time do you spend detailing your obedience and surrender to God and your willingness to die for Him? We glory in what is shameful and ignore what is glorious.
Why is it we are so eager to bring attention to things that do not honor God? Even if we are living a very moral life, if our speech is, more often than not, about ourselves, we are glorying in what is shameful. We know this because pride is sinful, and God hates sin. Not only do we dishonor Him by devoting our lives to things that do not build His Kingdom, but we also insult Him when we draw attention to what we’ve achieved. In the first case, our motives are not pleasing to God, and in the second, our pride and selfishness are detestable to His holy nature. What we consider glorious is shameful in God’s eyes.
Success in this world is not evil. I believe God grants success to some who He knows will use their success for His glory and to further His Kingdom through both generosity and practical means. I also believe pursuing success to build your self-esteem and to show yourself better than others is abhorrent. It is no more than pride and selfishness, the same things that caused the demise of Lucifer. We want to distance ourselves as far as possible from Satan, so why would we spend our lives indulging in the same behaviors that resulted in His expulsion from God’s presence?
Do not glory in shame. Don’t live your life focused on yourself. What others think of you will not save you from the fires of Hell. Your prestige will not shield you from the wrath of God. The next time you look around and begin feeling good about yourself, recognize what it is from which you are deriving those feelings of satisfaction. The things of this world, every last one of them, will pass away. There is nothing that will remain except your love for Christ and what you have done for Him. Nothing but His grace can save you. Nothing but your devotion to Him can generate any rewards in Heaven. Don’t glory in shame. Glory in bringing honor to Jesus through your obedience to His Word. Everything else is shameful.