Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!
Psalm 34:3 (ESV)
At a recent prayer event, we were thinking about “magnifying God”. The facilitator expressed the sentiment that to magnify something is to make it larger, so how can we make God any bigger than He already is? This stumped me. Surely God is as big as He’s ever going to be?
I later realised however that our definition of magnification was wrong. When you magnify something, you don’t make it any larger whatsoever. It just appears to be larger.
Living by the seaside as I do, we often come across telescopes mounted on the sea wall for you to look out at passing ships. When we use such a device, we don’t affect the ship itself at all. What we are doing is to make the ship larger in our vision. Other objects are obscured, and the focus of our scope is purely on the magnified item.
Likewise, when we magnify God, we are not making Him bigger at all – for that’s impossible. What we are doing is focusing on Him, and thus He appears larger in our vision.
When we magnify an object, it allows us to see it more clearly. It also enables us to examine minute details which we might not otherwise have seen. All of these examples apply to magnifying God also. Seeing Him more clearly, by magnifying Him, and understanding Him better by more clearly seeing His character and quality.
So how do we practically do it?
I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
Psalm 69:30 (ESV)
Often the phrase “to magnify God” is used in terms of worship. Sometimes we use words like “worship”, “praise”, “magnify” and “glorify” interchangeably, and yet there can be subtle differences. Certainly worship is a major way in which we magnify God. When our attention is on Him, and not our problems, we cannot help but increase Him and decrease everything else.
Worship is not the only way however. We magnify God when we study His Word. When we make an effort to get to grips with the Scriptures, we are showing Him how important they are. And the Word speaks of God. The more we study it, the more we magnify Him and the more we understand not just who He is, but also who we are in Christ.
Lastly we magnify God through prayer. Prayer is certainly part of our worship, but even in making requests of God, we are magnifying Him. By praying to Him, we are looking to Him above all else. God should never be just another “thing” in our life, He should be the main thing. I once heard it said that He shouldn’t be one of many, but the one and only.
If the largest thing in your life right now is not God, but some kind of problem, then chances are you are magnifying the problem itself rather than Jesus.
At times in life, we face incredible difficulties, and I am in no way belittling that. Serious illness, the loss of a loved one, or financial difficulty are terribly difficult and often stressful. In those times however, we need to make sure we are recognising that God is bigger than any problem we have, and not get trapped into believing the problem is bigger than He is.