Living for God's Glory

There is a theme throughout the Bible that I want us to talk about today, which is that we are to live our lives for God’s glory. The reason we will be talking about this topic, besides that fact that it is a major theme in the Bible, is because we are currently looking at the second phrase of five phrases in our church mission statement. Here is our mission statement: “Shaped by the gospel, and for God’s glory, we are a family of disciple-making worshipers.”

Last week we looked at the first phrase, “Shaped by the gospel.” This week we'll cover the second phrase, “for God’s glory”, and in the following three weeks we will talk about being a family, disciple-making, and worship. Each phrase carries with it great meaning, and we believe helps to define in an easy to remember way what it should look like and be like to be a part of a church that takes the Bible seriously. Each of these phrases, as we cover them topically, are a distillation of what church life ought to be as defined by God Himself. So that is what makes them important. They are a framework through which we can and should live as a New Testament, Bible-believing, Christ-loving church.

So let me read it again, our mission statement following that introduction: “Shaped by the gospel, and for God’s glory, we are a family of disciple-making worshipers.”

Now as I say this morning that we will talk about living for God’s glory, my hope is that your eyes don’t glaze over because of this often used, familiar phrase that is heard regularly from a pulpit. Instead, I want us to consider what should be the most definitive description of what should influence every step we make, every thought we choose to dwell on, every decision before us. Because the question, the fundamental question that we all should have is this: ”How should I live my life?” And the answer? “For God’s glory.” So if the primary way we are to live as Christians is for God’s glory, then it is important that we know what exactly this means!

We are going to look at this together today, look into what this means to live for God’s glory. I want to show you biblically that we should live for His glory, I don’t want you to just take my word for it. And as we look at these biblical truths we will at the same time, Lord willing, better understand what it means.

Let’s go to three verses that are representative of many, many other verses that each speak of living our lives for God’s glory.

Ephesians 1:12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

1 Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

2 Corinthians 5:9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.

The concept is simple, really. We, as Christians, have been, the Bible tells us, bought with a price, and so we now belong to Him. Christ ransomed us, purchased us, made us His, and so we now, being His, are to live our lives for His glory. That is what each of these three verses speaks to.

In the first one, Ephesians 1:12, Paul spends several verses just talking about the gospel, the fact that Christ came, Christ saved us, God chose us, we are His, our sins are forgiven in Christ. He talks about the splendor, the mystery, the eternal, majestic gift of salvation, and then comes verse 12 which is kind of a purpose statement that tells us the result of these fantastic truths. What is the purpose, the reason for all that Christ has done for us? It is so that we might be "for the praise of His glory!”

We become objects of His glory. This is like people see us and consider what Christ has done in and for us, and instead of saying, "Wow, you are an awesome person as a Christian," no, instead they look at us for who we are and say, "Wow, God is an awesome God because He saved someone even like you!" And so God is made much of for His work in us and for us, not that we are made much of. We are objects of His glory. He is great and His love is majestically wonderful and His patience is incredible, His character is seen and lifted up in the way He treats us, in the truth that He has saved us, even us, even you, even me.

You know what, your life might be really hard right now. And if so, you may be thinking, "Wow, I thought being a Christian would make my life easy and trouble free." I’ve heard people say that. And yet when we understand that our lives are to glorify God and make Him and His character known to a watching world, and not just make our lives easy and care free, then we can see that trials make it possible at times for God’s character to be more clearly seen to those who are watching. Here is what I mean. When you are stressed to the max, tired, and maybe frustrated, what do you want to do? What is the normal human response? Think about it, I don’t have to describe it, what is your tendency when you are stressed, tired and frustrated? What if what comes out instead of whatever that normal human response is, what if you are patient, kind, tenderhearted, loving? If you are, as a Christian in this instance, patient, kind, tenderhearted, and loving, I mean really from the heart, not just acting, then where did that come from? From God, from the Holy Spirit, and not from you. So whose character is showing and at work through you? The Lord’s. And so through a trial, God is seen, through a trial the character of God is made known, God is glorified by His work in us. We are, we become visible objects, representatives of His character, of His grace.

1 Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

In this passage where we also see that we are to live for God’s glory, we have additional context. Here Paul has been discussing whether or not a Christian should eat meat that has been offered to idols. The question was, is it wrong to each such meat? Meat would be sold in the marketplace that had been used in pagan worship, and many Christians wondered if they would be seen as participating in a pagan practice if they consumed what had been used in that practice. Paul ultimately says it is okay unless your conscience leads you to believe it is sin, or if you believe you may cause someone else to stumble.

1 Corinthians 10:25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 26 For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” 27 If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— 29 I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? 31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

The issue in this is to do all for the glory and honor of God. If you eat, do so for God’s glory, if you drink, do so for God’s glory, if you do anything else, do that too for God’s glory. This means do all things in obedience to Him, in a way that is loving and honoring toward Him. All things, everything for His glory.

One thing I really like about this passage is how it is all-inclusive. What I mean is that at the end Paul adds, “or whatever you do.” That includes everything we do. In everything we ought to think, how can I glorify God, how can I make Him known, how can I present Him with my speech and with my life? When talking to that difficult co-worker, that grumpy customer, that impossible sibling, that unreasonable spouse, that know-it-all parent, in all things, in every conversation, in interactions in person, online, or on the phone, in all things live for God’s glory!

2 Corinthians 5:9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.

This too has context that is important for us to understand to get its full meaning. Paul is not talking about home in your house or on vacation away from your house. He is talking about home as alive in your current body and away being away from your current body, having left this life as we know it. Here is what Paul has said before we get to verse 9:

2 Corinthians 5:1 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

So Paul is saying whether you are dead, away from this body, or alive, in this body, either way we are to make it our aim to please Him. To please Him is to glorify Him. Our place, our mission, our aim is to be to do what is pleasing to God, to glorify God on this earth.

The most awesome thing that exists in all of the world and universe is God Himself. And if this is true, and it is, then what could be greater than to make Him, the most awesome thing ever, to make Him known more than perhaps He is already? He does this and we should be on board with it as well.

Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

The heavens and all of creation make known that there is a God and that He is great and mighty. God wants people to know that, He is gracious to make Himself known so we can know Him. He is sharing Himself with us. And then letting us in on the great endeavor that He is on, to make Himself known.

And so we read things like 1 Corinthians 1:31: "so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”" This makes more sense, doesn’t it? If God is great, then let us boast about Him, glorify Him!

Now let’s make it more personal...

2 Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

There is only one way by which we are in any way capable of living for God’s glory, living for Him, and that is given here when Paul says, “for the love of Christ controls us.” Love for Christ, His life for us matters. In fact, we are to be controlled by it, this controls us, or it should as it did Paul here. He then gives a conclusion:

we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

This should be very personal, moving for the believer. It tells us that we are to live for Him, no longer for ourselves but for Christ who died and was raised for us. The thought of this, the truth of His death and resurrection should drive us to put off living for self and put on living for another, namely, Jesus Christ. This again, this is living for God’s glory.

And so our place now is to live for God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in all that we do. This is our place. We who have believed are to live for the praise of His glory. Whether we eat or we drink or whatever we do we are to live for Him. Whether we are dead or alive, at home or away, we are to live for Him. And the motive for it all is love, love for Christ and His love for us.

And so, going back to our mission statement. If we are shaped by the gospel, we will live for God’s glory, because the gospel, along with the message of salvation, is also a message for living, and our living is to be for Christ.

Now, do you always, without exception, do everything with the aim to glorify God, to glorify Christ? I'd guess not. We are mess ups. Can I say that? Well I guess I just did. Our motives are not always what they should be. Our actions, our words miss the mark. But know this: when this happens, and it does way too often, Christ is still near to us, the Father is still holding us, the Spirit is still at work in us. He does not quit on us, not ever. He says, "I will never leave or forsake you." He says the Holy Spirit was given to us as a promise of what is to come. He says we have eternal life with Him in heaven and the new earth. When we fail to glorify Him through obedience, that does not change His love for us.

In fact, even in our mess ups, our sin, He can still get glory. How? Well, one way is as we confess and repent of our sins – doesn’t that please Him? Isn’t that great? Even when we fail, He can still be glorified in us! Or how about as we sin, and He refuses to give us the back of His hand, what does that show? It shows His glory. How? By His forgiveness, His patience, His keeping His promises even when we don’t. He will put Himself on display and we will too, one way or another, but His revealed desire is that this happens through our loving obedience to Him. He is gracious, He is worthy to be praised, He is an amazing, awesome God! To Him be the glory forever and ever.