Glorifying God Means What Exactly?

Once again author and friend Mike Duran has asked a thought-provoking question on his blog, this time How Do We “Glorify God” in Our Writing? If you take a look at the comments, you’ll see there are some remarks nearly as long as the original post. The subject of giving God glory is no small one.

Mike started out with a straightforward statement about a Christian’s need to glorify God:

Of course, I realize that Christians are to glorify God in everything they do.

    So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (I Cor. 10:31).

Odd as it may seem, that oft repeated idea caused me to pause, first because of the supporting verse, then because of the broad term “in everything.”

I recently had occasion to look at the issue central to the passage containing the “do all to the glory of God” verse. Paul has just finished giving an argument about eating or not eating meat offered to idols. Here’s the immediate context:

If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience’ sake. But if anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience’ sake; I mean not your own conscience, but the other man’s; for why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I slandered concerning that for which I give thanks?

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Clearly the verse in question is referring to a specific scenario. Paul’s conclusion, in essence, was this: Make your decision to eat or not eat, to drink or not drink, or whatever else, on what will glorify God.

The popular view of this verse, however, has become something like this: Christians are to glorify God in whatever we do. I’m a Christian, so whatever I do brings God glory.

As I see it, this latter interpretation doesn’t account for the context and actually makes the verse say something it doesn’t say.

But I’m also wondering about the idea of giving God glory in everything we do. I believe the in-context understanding makes it clear that “everything” means everything specific to Paul’s discussion. But even if that were not so, I’d have the same kind of struggle inherent in the command, “Pray without ceasing.”

I spent some time looking up what the Bible says about bringing God glory to see if other passages gave an “in everything” slant. The clearest passage defining what it means to glorify God seems to be in Matthew 5:16.

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Throughout the New Testament, people responded to miracles and other “good works” by giving God glory. The way the passages read, it seems as if this was verbal and immediate.

For now, I’m left with these thoughts:

1) It seems good works can and should spark others to give God glory.

2) Giving God glory is something we communicate, one person to another.

Some people argue that Scripture teaches all creation glorifies God, so I’ll throw in a third point:

3) Psalm 19:1 (The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands) indicates, as does Romans 1, that creation declares something about God. I think this is different from “giving Him glory.” Rather it’s a statement of fact. God has glory; creation reveals His glory. The full moon, for example, is glorious, consequently the one Who made it is revealed as a glorious Creator.

What are your thoughts?

Published in: on August 3, 2011 at 6:30 pm  Comments (18)  
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