WHEN we went out to dinner recently, we parked next to a beautifully maintained older car. Unlike today's models, where car names often take up an entire bumper or the length of a door or window, this 1953 classic was identified only by small letters inside a horseshoe of metal around the trunk lock. In today's consumer society, brand names and insignia tend to be right out front -- and in bold print, if possible! They have, in fact, become advertisements in themselves. And company executives, once virtually anonymous, are in some instances better known than their companies. From monogramming and vanity license plates right on up the line to the name of a VIP one supposedly needs to know (or be), society seems to be saying increasingly and aggressively, ``Go out there and make a name for yourself! Get known -- or get left behind.''
Name recognition may be the sales technique of our times. Yet hear the contrasting advice offered in these verses from Psalms: ``My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.''1
To such towering spiritual leaders as Moses, David, St. Paul, Christ Jesus, magnifying or praising God was not a better way, it was the only way. God was everything. Each one urged people to do exactly what they themselves were seeking to do -- to place God first in their minds, hearts, and worship, to make Him the central authority and focus of their lives. Jesus, moreover, gave us in his life the one life we can look to as the most complete example of what this God-centered living is and what it results in.
We may wonder why, at a time when so much that happens seems unconnected with religion, we need to exalt God's name or character. Why should we exalt His name and not our own? Why ``boast in the Lord'' and not in ourselves?
Magnifying God's name doesn't put us out of touch with reality. God is the creator of the universe -- He is the Supreme Being -- and so, in effect, we owe Him this honor. And since the qualities of thought and ability that go into any worthwhile achievement have their source in God -- since the intelligence, initiative, determination, patience, honesty, faithfulness, and so on that make human improvement and productivity possible have their origins in God -- it makes sense to give God first place in our hearts.
But there is an even more fundamental reason for magnifying God: it is the most natural thing we can do. As God's spiritual image, or reflection, man, we magnify God because it is our nature to do so. We are reflecting God's own magnifying and praising of His creation, which includes man.
The night before the crucifixion, Christ Jesus earnestly prayed to God, ``Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee.''2 Doesn't this show the reflective nature of man's relationship to God, divine Spirit? Man's identity as God's image and likeness assures us that this glorifying, or magnifying, of spiritual man is wholly warranted. And God's nature as the one author of all that is real, the one perfect Mind, Spirit, and Life, makes our reasons for making our ``boast in the Lord'' self-evident.
To the extent we try to exalt ourselves through anxious self-promotion or by undercutting others -- whether in the marketplace or in our private lives -- we're leaving God out of the picture. When we lose sight of God's real nature and our own, however, we drop to the level of believing that we're merely mortal creatures, innately insignificant and doomed to striving for importance through our own limited efforts to crawl to the top.
But God doesn't work this way and neither does His kingdom, where we truly dwell. God cherishes and exalts each of us, continuously, invariably, without exception. He must, or He would be guilty of neglecting, even denigrating, His own loved children. And we can trust that as we grow in closeness to God through prayer and through expressing more and more fully the Christly qualities that magnify God -- the goodness, purity, integrity, affection, calm, joy, and so on -- we'll grow in grace in the eyes of others, as well as being progressively of greater service to them.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science and the founder of this newspaper, once wrote to the members of her Church: ``Know ye not that he who exercises the largest charity, and waits on God, renews his strength, and is exalted? Love is not puffed up; and the meek and loving, God anoints and appoints to lead the line of mankind's triumphal march out of the wilderness, out of darkness into light.''3
If humility and love are the test of true greatness, it is because they are first the evidence that one is glorifying God above all else -- especially above himself. And if these characteristics are the measure of our true stature, each of us can today begin growing taller spiritually by knowing for himself or herself how glorious a thing it is to magnify God.
1Psalms 34:2, 3. 2John 17:1. 3Miscellaneous Writings, p. 130.
BIBLE VERSE: Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward.... Let such as love thy salvation say continually, The Lord be magnified. Psalms 40:5, 16