Glorifying God does not occur automatically in the life of a believer: it is the fruit of conscious determination and concentrated diligence. “Study [“be diligent”] to shew thyself approved unto God,” writes the Apostle Paul in his final epistle (II Tim. 2:15). Certainly, there is often an unconscious element to the life that glorifies God, a self-forgetfulness that arises from a loving, dedicated heart. But such love and devotion do not spring spontaneously from nothing. We must yield our wills and submit our desires, if we would glorify God. And it is to the end that God might be glorified—in everything—that we have been saved. Peter and Paul give us the big and small of this fact in two succinct verses.
Having God’s glory—in things both big and small—as our end glorifies God. We will begin with Peter, who, it may be surprising to learn, gives us the “big” end of the spectrum. The objective of the believer, he writes, should be “that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (I Pet. 4:11). He offers this doxology specifically within the context of the proper utilization of spiritual gifts, particularly those related to formal ministry: “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified . . . .” (vss. 10, 11). Peter, to some degree, is certainly speaking to every believer here, but he seems to be emphasizing those aspects of service that we view as more exalted, i.e., those involving the declaration of the Word. We might agree that, in such a realm, we must be careful to glorify the Lord. But the very fact that the Spirit of God provides us with this reminder testifies to the truth that not all who handle the Word of God—even believers—do so in a way that glorifies God. How many times is the pulpit used to exalt the pulpiteer? And how many times is self-aggrandizement the hidden motive behind what is said and done by some who preach and teach the Word of God? The only justifiable motive and the only just end of all formal ministry is God’s glory.
If we are surprised that Peter tackled the big end of this subject—formal, public ministry—we might be equally surprised that Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, the one to whom was committed the gospel of the dispensation of the grace of God, broaches the “small” end of the spectrum. For he writes: “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (I Cor. 10:31). This verse exhorts and exalts me by turn. In the first place, it is sobering to realize that there is no room for careless or even casual behavior in a believer’s life because God watches and weighs everything . We may take a brief break or an occasional vacation from our temporal work, but no such departure is permitted from our spiritual vocation. Before God, our lives are sacred, set apart to Him, and our smallest activity of eternal consequence. To affirm that is not to suggest that rest and recreation have no place in a believer’s life but that they must be enjoyed in accord with God’s will. We are not our own. We belong to God. But in the second place, it is thrilling to think that nothing need be wasted in God’s economy. The world eats and drinks for the energy to continue living or for mere enjoyment. The believer can and should eat with respect for the body God has given Him and in true thankfulness for what God has provided. Such actions and attitudes not only glorify God but also bless the believer. Who could imagine a God so good that such necessary and mundane activities may be done to His eternal glory and the believer’s eternal blessing? God’s glory is the purpose of all creation and should be the desire and goal of every believer.
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