We often use the word “great” in conversation to admire someone’s accomplishments or abilities. We hold these “great” people in high regard because of a skill or quality they possess that surpasses the skills and qualities of others we know. However, when the Bible refers to God as “great,” it is a designation of such broad scope and ultimate supremacy that it surpasses our human understanding of accomplishment or ability (Psalm 145:3).
Scripture’s description of God as great demonstrates that He is the pinnacle of every admirable quality, making God, alone, worthy of our worship. Isaiah spoke of God’s great command of Heaven and Earth and all things therein (Isaiah 40:26).
King David trumpeted the greatness of God’s wondrous deeds (Psalm 86:10) and praised God for His generous mercy and patience with His children (Psalm 103:8). John the Evangelist promised believers that God’s great love for mankind gives us the hope of eternal salvation (John 3:16) and overcomes our own self-condemnation (1 John 3:20).
God Is Great in Power and Authority
The Bible opens with a display of God’s incomparable power in creating Heaven and Earth as well as everything in them (Genesis 1:1-31). God’s demonstration of His supreme power continues throughout Scripture, in which we see God perform miracles to save His people from destruction (Exodus 14:21-30), heal the afflicted (Mark 1:23-26), and offer believers the ultimate salvation from death (John 3:16).
Aside from having the ultimate power to create, God also has the ultimate authority to deem something worthy. We are introduced to God’s authority to deem things worthy during Creation when we read that God carefully inspected each creation and declared it good before moving on to His next design.
God’s power and authority to deem worthy will also be on display at the Final Judgment. At that time, God through Jesus will judge the living and the dead so as to do away with anything that could cause or bear sin in the new Heaven and new Earth promised to us. The righteous will receive the reward of eternal life in Heaven and the wicked will receive eternal damnation (Revelation 20:11-15).
God Is Great in Love and Mercy
Scripture proclaims that God is love (1 John 4:8). The greatest display of God’s love for us was His choice to send down His only Son to be tortured and killed to atone for our sins so that we may have eternal life (John 3:16).
In a similar way, the second person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ, showed His supremely profound love for us by agreeing to live His life according to God’s will despite the emotional and physical agony that Christ knew awaited Him.
Aside from being a God of love, our Father is also a God of mercy. God’s mercy for us is so bountiful that He promises to have faith in us even if we lose faith in Him (2 Timothy 2:13). More specifically, God promises that if we repent and confess our sins, He will show mercy by forgiving our sins and purifying us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
It’s important to note that in seeking God’s mercy, we must repent with a sincere heart and keep in mind Jesus’ stark warning that as we forgive others during our lifetime, so shall our Father forgive us after it (Matthew 6:12).
How Can We Praise God for His Greatness?
God created us in love so that we may know love and praise Him, who is love. The best way to honor God for His greatness is to love Him and to love one another. We know this to be true because Jesus Himself summed up all of Scripture into two commands about love — we’re to love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind; and we’re to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:34-40).
We can show God our love by surrendering to His will and studying His Word. We can show each other love by treating one another with justice, kindness, and humility, as explored below.
1. Praise God’s greatness by surrendering to His will. We show God our love with all of our heart, soul, and mind by humbly submitting to His will. We humbly honor God when we accept that He, as the Master Planner of the universe, exists outside of time and space.
As such, His thoughts and ways surpass our thoughts and ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). When we accept this, we can humbly trust God’s Word to guide our steps instead of leaning on our own potentially flawed understanding of things (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Another good way to submit to God’s will is to recite the prayer Jesus taught us — the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:1-4). The opening address of “Our Father, who art in Heaven” is an address of humility and adoration, acknowledging that God is our Creator who mercifully accompanies us in spirit and also powerfully reigns above us in Heaven. The Lord’s Prayer continues with further words of praise for God and words of surrender to His will.
2. Praise God’s greatness by studying His Word. We can further honor God’s greatness by studying and living by Scripture, which is “God-breathed” and “useful for teaching…and training” so that every servant of God “may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). God’s Word gives us a source of wisdom to guide us in moments of doubt, and a source of discipline in moments when we lose our way.
One paramount way to honor God through the study of His Word is to follow the teachings of His Son, who is the Word Incarnate (John 1:14). Jesus tells us plainly that He is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). By following Jesus’ teachings on how to live a life of peace, we praise God for every act of mercy and love that God has shown and continues to show mankind.
3. Praise God’s greatness by showing others justice, kindness, and humility. Another way to honor God’s greatness is to do right by His children by doing unto them as you’d have done unto you (Matthew 7:12). In praising God by loving His children, the Almighty Father requires three things of us: That we show each other justice, kindness, and humility (Micah 6:8).
- Justice: We show one another justice by doing such things as treating each other honestly (Exodus 20:16) and by helping each other find the way back to the straight and narrow when we digress (Galatians 6:1). We also act justly with each other by exposing injustices (Ephesians 5:11) and by caring for the most vulnerable in society such as the orphans, the refugees, and the poor (Zechariah 7:10).
- Kindness: We show our neighbors kindness by celebrating each other’s victories and grieving each other’s losses (Romans 12:15). We also show kindness by lending our neighbors a helping hand (Galatians 6:2) and by using our God-given gifts to inspire and serve one another (1 Peter 4:10).
- Humility: Last, we can show each other humility by the necessary but (often) difficult act of loving our enemies (Luke 6:35) and forgiving each other’s trespasses (Ephesians 4:32). Although loving our enemies and forgiving those who hurt us can sure feel wrong, this instruction contains much wisdom. Importantly, when we take the time to work through the emotional process of forgiving someone (whether the wrongdoer is alive or dead, has apologized or not), the experience can be transformative by increasing our patience and sense of peace.
What Does This Mean?
Time and again the Bible makes clear that God’s power and love are so expansive that they stand unmatched anywhere, at any time. Therefore, as the God of gods, Creator of the Universe, and the very embodiment of greatness, God, alone, is worthy of worship.
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Dolores Smyth writes about her life’s passions — faith and family. Her work has appeared in numerous print and online publications. You can read more of her work on Twitter @LolaWordSmyth.