Joel Osteen - The Weight of Glory
I want to talk to you today about The Weight of Glory. Glory means honor, favor, influence. We like those things, but we don't always realize there's a weight that comes with favor, a weight that comes with influence. If you're not prepared for it, the favor won't be a blessing, it will be a burden. We have to pass some tests before God will trust us with the weight of glory. Nothing happens by accident, your steps are being ordered by the Lord. The delays, the disappointments, the bad breaks, those are tests. Will you be good to people that are not being good to you? Will you stay in faith when things happen that you don't understand? You come down with an illness, you're overlooked for a promotion, the pandemic slows your dreams - these are all opportunities to prove to God that you can handle the weight of glory.
When you understand that God uses difficulties and things we don't like to get us prepared, then you don't complain when things don't go your way. You realize - it's serving a purpose. When you do the right thing when the wrong thing is happening, you're getting stronger, your roots are going down deeper. That's why God doesn't remove everything instantly. We pray, "God, take this trouble away. Change this person. Make me comfortable". But if you're always comfortable you won't be prepared. We grow in the difficult times. We grow when we have to stretch our faith, believe when we don't see things changing, stay in faith when we didn't get the contract. Those are very important times. If what you're praying about isn't changing, then God is using that situation to change you.
Now, I'm not saying to accept everything, live with defeat - I'm saying: God has a purpose for it. If you'll keep the right attitude, then it's preparing you for new levels, it's getting you ready to carry the weight of glory, to go where you've never gone, to see favor that you've never seen. The reason it's taking so long is because what God has in store is much bigger than you can imagine. Now don't fight the seasons where you're not comfortable, "Why isn't this changing? I've been doing the right things, seems like the more I pray the worse it gets". God knows what he's doing. Everything serves his plan. You can't see it, but every day you stay in faith, every day you do your best at work, you have a smile on your face, a song of praise in your heart - you are passing the test. You can't see it, but your spiritual muscles are getting stronger, your character is being developed, you're showing God that he can trust you.
I like to lift weights, but the weights don't do me any good if they're always easy. If I get a 10 pound dumbbell I can lift that for three days. It's only when the weight is heavy enough to where there's resistance, it's uncomfortable, I don't like it, I prefer not to have to strain stretch, but that's the only way the muscle grows. You may be in a situation where you're uncomfortable, "God why won't these people treat me right? Why won't my business increase? Why haven't I met anyone"? You're in training, this is an opportunity to get stronger. If God changed it overnight, you wouldn't be prepared to carry the weight of glory. God has something awesome in your future. Don't get discouraged by what's not working out, by how long it's taking, by who's not changing - seems like it's all negative, but what you can't see is you're growing, you're getting stronger, you're developing a greater trust, greater confidence, greater endurance. These challenges are all opportunities to come up higher.
But there will be people in your life, you're treating them right, but they're doing you wrong, leaving you out, they're jealous. The time will come where you can get even, you can pay them back, you can leave them out - that's a test. Will you do to them what they did to you? Or will you be the bigger person? Take the high road and be good to them despite what they did. That's not just being nice, that's passing the test, that's showing God that you can carry the weight of glory, the weight of influence, the weight of leadership. God will not put you in a higher position if you're going to use that influence to mistreat people. He will test you with small things. How do you treat that clerk that's hard to get along with? How do you respond to that lady on the phone that doesn't give you the time of day?
"Joel, she was rude to me - that's why I was rude back to her, besides she doesn't even know who I am". She may not, but God does. He's the one keeping the records. Well everyone at work slacks off, everyone comes in late, everyone wastes time - here's the difference: you're not everyone. You're called to set a new standard. God wants to take you to levels that others can't go. They don't have the character, the integrity, they don't want to live disciplined and focused. That's fine for them, but that's not who you. Are you are exceptional. You have a calling on your life. There's an assignment for you to fulfill. You were not created to just get by like others, you have greatness in you, you were created to stand out, to rise higher, to leave your mark. What you do in these seemingly small areas where nobody will know will determine whether God can trust you with big things.
This is more relevant today than ever, because you can get on social media and be negative toward people, condescending, say hurtful things, all under a different name - nobody knew it was me. God is the one that matters. Promotion doesn't come from people, it comes from the Lord. The scripture says he lifts up one, and sets down another. Can you handle the weight of glory? Can God trust you with more favor, more resources? Are you passing these tests?
I have some lemon trees in our backyard, and one of them had so many lemons on it that a couple of the branches started to touch the ground. There were five or six big lemons on the end of this small branch, about a half an inch in diameter. Because the branches couldn't carry the weight, the lemons didn't develop properly. And sometimes we're wondering: why we're not seeing more fruit? Why won't God give me more influence, more favor, more opportunity? It may be because our branches can't carry the weight right now. If God gives you 10 lemons, but your branch can only sustain three it's not a blessing it's a burden. Instead of focusing on the fruit, if you'll focus on developing your branches, getting stronger, being a person of excellence, having integrity, doing the right thing when nobody is watching, treating people with respect, giving God praise when you could be complaining, because your character is getting stronger, your roots are going down deeper, you'll be able to handle the weight of the fruit.
David said in Psalm 1:3, when you keep God first place "You will be like a tree planted by the waters, that brings forth fruit in its season". It doesn't say it's going to bring forth fruit year-round. It's not healthy for that lemon tree to bear fruit all the time, it can't sustain that. Yes, we love harvest season, we love when we're seeing favor, prayers answered, new opportunities - that's great, but every season is not harvest. We may not like it, but winter is a blessing. Winter is necessary. Without the leaves coming off the tree would never develop new buds. In the winter season it looks like the tree is dead: no fruit, no leaves, branches are bare. You could think: this tree is done, it's seen its best days. The truth is in the winter something is happening that you can't see, the tree is gathering up sap, the roots are going down deeper, it's being prepared to handle more fruit in the spring. If there weren't these different seasons the tree wouldn't reach its full potential.
Don't complain about the winter seasons in your life, the times you don't see any growth, you're stuck at the same level at work, nothing changing in your relationship, you're still single, your health is not improving. "Well, what's wrong? Where is all the fruit"? Nothing is wrong - you're in winter. You can't see it, but your branches are getting bigger. The fruit you've seen in the past, the success, the favor, the influence, if that's all there was then you would have kept producing at the same level. The fact that you're in winter is a sign that God has more in store, he has bigger opportunities, more favor, greater honor. Now, keep a good attitude in winter when you're not being recognized, not getting the credit, not seeing growth - something is happening on the inside. God is getting you prepared.
Paul said, "I can do all things through Christ". One translation says "I can do all seasons through Christ". You may be in a winter season, not seeing the favor you've seen in the past. Instead of complaining, try a different approach, "Lord, I thank you that I can do all seasons. I can do spring and I can do winter. I can do harvest and I can do planting. I can do this pandemic season, I can do this season taking care of my elderly parents, I can do this season where I'm not being treated right, where I'm dealing with this illness". In those winter seasons like a tree you're gathering up sap, you're getting stronger, your character is being developed. You're learning to trust God in a greater way. All that is getting you prepared to carry the weight of glory, the weight of blessing, the weight of influence. You wouldn't be in winter, you wouldn't be in this pandemic, you wouldn't be facing this difficulty if God didn't have something bigger coming. If you were going to keep producing the same amount of fruit God would left you alone. The fact that your branches are bare, the fruit is gone, there are no leaves, that's a sure sign that increase is coming.
David said "You're going to bear fruit in your season". And it may be winter in your life, but I sense in my spirit - you're on the verge of a new season. You passed that test, you've done the right thing when it was hard, you stayed in faith when life didn't make sense, now you're ready to carry the weight of glory. God is about to do a new thing, this next season is going to be something you've never seen: favor, opportunity, influence, greater than you've imagined. None of us like difficulties, but when you understand that without the winter seasons you can't see growth, greater fruit, then you don't complain. You realize: God is getting you prepared to handle greater weight.
Now thoughts will tell you "Winter is permanent. You'll never meet the right person, it's been too long. You'll never get well, never come out of debt". Don't believe those lies, winter always gives way to spring. Your harvest season is coming. God is watching you. He sees you going the extra mile, he sees you working hard, making sacrifices, nobody thanking you. He sees you fighting that illness, the lonely nights, praising when you could be complaining, giving when you're not seeing increase. You're going to come out of that lonely season, that unfair season, that barren season into a season of great joy, great favor, great health, great relationship, great opportunities. Because you pass these tests, you prove to God: you can handle the weight of glory, you're going to see him show out in your life.
This is what happened with David. At 17 years old he was anointed by the prophet Samuel to be the next king of Israel, but he didn't go to the palace, he went back to the shepherds fields to take care of sheep. He was hidden, nobody paid attention to him, it was lonely, boring, taking care of sheep when he knew he had big things in him. He could have slacked off, taken the easy way out, thought nobody's watching. If I lose a couple sheep big deal, nobody will know about it. No, David was a person of excellence. He did the right thing when no one was watching.
What you do in private will determine how high you will go in public. If you cut corners, slack off, do things half-heartedly, that's going to keep you from carrying the weight of what God has for you. You don't get stronger by taking the easy way out. You grow when you do things you don't like, the right thing when no one is watching, have a good attitude when you're not getting your way, when it's not fair. Your confidence will not be the limit of how high you go - your character will determine how high you go. There are a lot of talented, smart, capable people - talent may take you somewhere, but character is what will keep you there. Your character is more important than your confidence. What you do in private when no one is watching will determine how high God will take you.
David didn't like being in the shepherds fields, you know, he was looked down on by his family, rejected by his father, but you never read where he complained, where he got bitter. He kept doing the right thing year after year. He had to prove to God that he would take care of those sheep, before God would trust him to take care of his people, the Israelites. Every day David was in the shepherds fields, nothing exciting, no sign of things changing, but something was happening on the inside - David was growing, getting stronger, developing character. He was proving to God that he could be trusted. He didn't like that winter season where he was hidden, but it was necessary. Without that time of proving he wouldn't have been able to carry the weight of glory, the weight of favor that God was going to give him.
If God is going to trust you with favor, influence, authority, you have to be a good steward of it. You don't prove that when you have it, you prove it in small things, in your private life, in how you treat people that can't do anything for you, how respectful you are to your spouse, your family. If you're harsh and condescending with the people you love, how can God trust you with greater influence?
After years in the shepherds fields, David defeated Goliath, and overnight became a national hero. When God can trust you, he'll do things suddenly. May look like you're falling behind, you've been doing the right thing a long time, nothing is changing. Seems like it's going to take you years to get to where you need to be - the one touch of God's favor will put you 50 years down the road. When you come into your season, when winter changes to spring, God can suddenly thrust you to a new level.
David was working for king Saul, but Saul was jealous. He tried to kill David. David had to flee for his life, he lived on the run in the desert, hiding in caves - Saul was making his life miserable. At one point David saw Saul and his men sleeping - this was his big chance to get even, he could finally pay Saul back for doing him wrong, put an end to all this trouble. But David wouldn't do it. He knew - Saul was the king, and you were to touch not God's anointed. Even though Saul was doing him wrong, David had so much integrity, so much character that he wouldn't harm Saul. When Saul found out about it he wept. He said "David, you are a much better man than I am". Not long after that Saul was killed in battle and David took the throne.
I wonder if this would have happened, if David had not passed all these tests along the way. Not just big things, but small things. Doing the right thing in the lonely shepherds fields, keeping a good attitude when his family did him wrong, being kind to Saul, not getting revenge. He didn't like it, but these things prepared him to carry the weight of glory, the weight of influence, the weight of favor.
I learned much of this from my father. He was a man of great integrity and great character. In the late 1950s the church he was pastoring was going along fine, growing, seeing increase. But when my sister Lisa was born with a birth injury, he began to search the scriptures in a new way. He saw God as a healer, and a God that wants us to live an abundant, victorious life. Unfortunately his congregation didn't like his new message of faith and victory, it didn't fit into their tradition. They ended up asking him to leave. He was devastated, he had seen great success there. They just built a new sanctuary, he was on the state board for his denomination. In that season he saw great fruit, but now it was winter, no fruit, no church, no favor.
He could have been bitter, given up on his dream, but he and my mother went out and started Lakewood with 90 people in an old run-down feed store. Here my father had just come from a beautiful new building, stained, glass. This feed store had holes in the floor, it was dirty, no windows. They cleaned it up, put folding chairs and head church. My father preached to those 90 people just as strongly and passionately as he did to the thousand at his previous church. But for 13 years Lakewood didn't grow. He was giving it his all, but nothing was improving, still had less than 200 people. He could have been discouraged, "God, I don't understand it", but he just kept doing the right thing year after year.
1972 there was a shift. Suddenly people started coming from all over the city, Lakewood grew to a church of thousands that would impact the world. But those years where he wasn't seeing growth, years where there was no fruit, he was doing the right thing but the wrong thing was happening, those were very important years. Without the winter season where he proved to God he would be faithful, he proved to do the right thing when it was hard, he proved he wouldn't get bitter and try to get revenge - that's what prepared him to carry the weight of glory.
And everything that happens in life: the difficulties, the delays, the things that aren't fair - they're not random, God has given you the opportunity to grow, to come up higher. He's getting you prepared to handle the weight of favor, the weight of influence. Now quit telling yourself "It's too hard. They did me wrong, it's been so long", no turn it around, "I can handle every season through Christ. It's winter, I don't like it, I'm uncomfortable, but I can handle winter, I know God is still on the throne, I know I've been armed with strength for this battle". I don't like this loneliness, but I'm not going to fall apart, I can handle a lonely season, I can handle this season fighting a sickness, I can handle this season where I'm not seeing any fruit, I'm not going to drag through it, complaining - I'm going to keep a song of praise, I'm going to keep being good to people. I know all seasons are working for my good.
You do that, you're not just passing the test, you're getting prepared. Your character is coming up higher, your spiritual muscles are getting stronger. At the right time you will come out of winter into your harvest season. You will see greater favor, greater influence, greater opportunities. It's because you can handle the weight of glory. Some of the difficulties that we complain аbout: the challenges that we don't like - without them we wouldn't be prepared. Instead of trying to pray away all the things that make you uncomfortable, pray away the people that get on your nerves, pray away the delays, why don't you try a different approach and say "God, help me to keep a good attitude in the midst of these challenges. Help me to stay in faith when people aren't treating me right. Help me to resist the temptation to compromise, to take the easy way out, so my character can develop, so my branches can get stronger, so I can handle the weight of what you have in store". If God is not removing the difficulty, if he's not changing what you don't like, he's getting you prepared to carry a lot of weight. The longer it's taken, the greater the harvest. The glory that's coming, the favor, the influence, the resources it's going to be something that you've never seen.
The scripture says (Psalm 105:19), "Until the time came to bring Joseph's dream to pass, God tested Joseph's character". Before your dream comes to pass, God will test your character. You have to prove that you can handle what he's entrusted you with. God gave Joseph a dream as a teenager that he would be in leadership, but he was betrayed by his brothers. They took his coat of many colors that his father had given him, it represented favor. They threw him into a pit, sold him into slavery, he was falsely accused, put in prison - these weren't just random bad breaks, God was testing his character. It wasn't fair, but Joseph didn't get bitter, he kept passing the test.
His brothers took his robe, but they couldn't take his favor. They took his freedom, but they couldn't take his anointing. They took him from his home, but they couldn't take his dream. All these steps were necessary, they were preparing him for the weight of glory. If you have a small destiny, you would have small challenges. If you were going to have little influence, little resources, then you would have little opposition. The reason you have big giants is you have a big destiny. The reason you're in winter so long is because your harvest is so big.
13 years later Joseph was brought out of prison and made the prime minister of Egypt. His brothers, the same ones that sold him into slavery, traveled to the palace looking for food - there was a famine in the land. They didn't know Joseph was still alive, they pulled up to the palace, Joseph was in charge of the food supply. When he saw his brothers he could have thought, "Okay, great, now it's payback time". This was his big chance to get even, but he wouldn't do it. He treated them with kindness. He had them go get their father and come back and live with him at the palace.
God is not going to give you influence so you can get even. If you're waiting to get that promotion, that favor so you can show your enemies who you are, let them have it, you're not going to see the increase that you should. There's a responsibility that comes with favor. You have to have the character that will handle the influence the right way. You have to bless your enemies, not talk bad about them. "When they're criticizing me, I'm going to criticize them", you'll get stuck where you are. God is testing your character. Are you going to complain in the winter seasons? Live discouraged, try to pay people back?
I'm asking you to be a Joseph - do the right thing when it's hard. That difficulty is not there to stop you, it's there to prepare you. God is about to release a new level of favor, influence, resources, but he's looking for people he can trust to carry the weight of glory. I believe you are one of those people. You wouldn't be hearing this if God wasn't about to do something new. Don't get discouraged by how long winter is taking - that's a sign something is on the way bigger than you've imagined. God is getting you prepared, keep passing that test. Every morning remind yourself "You can do all seasons through Christ". If you'll do this, I believe and declare: a shift is coming, winter is about to end, suddenly you're going to come into spring, suddenly you'll see opportunity, healing, promotion, breakthroughs, a harvest like you've never seen, in Jesus name.