One cannot stress it anymore, so let us get practical. Our aim as beings made in the image of God is to glorify God – that is the essential intimation of being an ‘image.’ We accomplish this design by being ultimately satisfied in Him, because that is how God is most glorified in us (cf. Phil. 1:20-21). Our satisfaction in God, however, can only come through a restored relationship with Him, whereby we can know Him. This restoration only comes through salvation, which comes by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Post-fall, we are incapable of being satisfied with God without salvation in Jesus Christ, thus we are incapable of actively glorifying (honoring) God until we are united with Christ through faith.
Notice the emphasis on actively glorifying God, which we often signify as honor. The distinction is developed from Romans 9:21-23. There, Paul emphasizes that God’s election comes from the perfect will of God, not from the determination of “human will or exertion” (Rom. 9:16). First, the apostle explains this through the example of Pharaoh. The purport of God’s hardening Pharaoh’s heart was that He “might show might show [His] power in [Pharaoh], and that [God’s] name might be proclaimed in all the earth” (Rom. 9:17). Essentially, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that His own glory might be magnified through him. Did God receive glory through Pharaoh’s hard heart? Absolutely, but this is not the way that we in our limited perspective ought to seek to glorify God. We desire to expand God’s glory through our honor of Him, by being vessels of His mercy, vessels of honor.
Paul anticipates the rebuttal – “who can resist His will?” (Rom. 9:19) – and the apostle answers it in 9:21-23.
“Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory?”
To be succinct, it is apparent that God is using humanity as tools, clay. On the surface, this does not intimate a comforting purpose to His creation. Nevertheless, there is a great rationale in the workings of God, both for the magnification of His glory, as well as the good of His honorable vessels (believers, Christians, those who are born again). For one, He is constructing these pieces of clay “in order to make know the riches of his glory” (Rom. 9:23a). Again, God appears egotistical, fashioning the world for His own compliments and praise. Yet, this is not without His love for His honorable vessels! How do we know this? It is found in the end of 9:23. God is working in this way “in order to make know the riches of his glory” (Rom. 9:23a), but this glory is “for vessels of mercy, which He has prepared beforehand for glory” (Rom. 9:23b). God will get His glory – that is a given – but the distinction comes in whether we glorify Him like Judas or like Jesus, which is a distinction made by actively seeking His glory – i.e. honoring Him. The divine plan is purposed in sharing His glory with those that He has called His own, with those that are honorable vessels, His children, those who have faith. Although God’s workings do not initially intimate a loving purpose for our lives, it must to those honorable vessels. The grand preparation is set on magnifying God’s glory within and through those who honor God, which is absolutely for their good, because God is most glorified in those that are most satisfied in Him (cf. Phil. 1:20-21).
Therefore, seek to honor God! Through our honor of God, we purpose our lives on glorifying Him, because it is the magnification of His glory that gives us the most satisfaction. And how do we honor God? We honor God by having faith in His son Jesus Christ, who He sent to reconcile man to Himself. “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6). If we cannot please Him, how shall we honor Him? Practically, have faith. Faith is necessary for the restoration of man’s imago dei, because it is by faith that man is united with Jesus Christ, who was the perfect image of God, whereby we can adequately honor God and share in the expansion of His glory with fullness of joy.