Isaiah 23.6-9, 48.11 – Giving to God the glory which belongs to him alone
Posted: 7 February 2012 in Isaiah

“Pass ye over to Tarshish; howl, ye inhabitants of the isle. Is this your joyous city, whose antiquity is of ancient days? her own feet shall carry her afar off to sojourn. Who hath taken this counsel against Tyre, the crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the honourable of the earth? The LORD of hosts hath purposed it, to stain the pride of all glory, and to bring into contempt all the honourable of the earth.”

“For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.”

The thrust of these two passages from Isaiah is that we are not, unlike the inhabitants of Tyre, to accrue to ourselves the glory which belongs solely God. If we do so, he will take steps to recover that which rightly belongs to him alone. In particular, this makes illicit the kind of ostentatious piety (or charitable activity) which seeks to draw attention towards itself and away from God. It is for that reason that Jesus told his followers (Matthew 6) not to let their left hand know what their right hand is doing when they give arms, and (later in the same chapter), when they pray, they are to shut themselves away in their closets, so as not to be seen of men. Such activities are virtuous in God’s eyes only if their purpose is not that of self glorification.

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