Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. [1 Corinthians 10:31]
You may have heard this verse before. It is both an exciting prospect and a troubling one. All true Christians should feel a surge of excitement at the idea of glorifying God in all things. But at the same time, we get a little confused and concerned about exactly HOW we are supposed to glorify God in all things.
We feel pretty confident about glorifying God while we’re singing at church, but we don’t have that same confidence about drinking a glass of water.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism says,
Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
What I want us to see today is two things.
First, this command to glorify God in all things is a binding command on all Christians. There are no exceptions. Every Christian is bound by this command at all times.
…do all to the glory of God.
More than that, every person is bound by this command. The essence of sin is to glorify self rather than God.
But today we’re talking about Christians glorifying God through all they do.
The second thing I want us to see is that this command encompasses all of life. We are to do all things, not just some things, not just “church” things, ALL THINGS to the glory of God. This means that everything we do, from going to church to taking a sip of water, we are to do to the glory of God.
With that said, let’s turn to the first 5 verses of John 17 and learn from Jesus how we can glorify God in all things.
Summary of the Text:
Last week we looked at these same verses and I pointed out two important ideas, everlasting life and the glory of God. We dealt with the idea of everlasting life last week, and this week we are dealing with this idea of the glory of God.
We see that the glory of God is the most important idea in this paragraph because Jesus keeps coming back to it. In fact, we learned last week that our salvation serves the glory of God. The primary reason we have eternal life is because it glorifies God to give it to us!
1. glory defined
Before we go any further, though, I think we need a working definition of glory. What is the glory of God? What does it mean to glorify God?
When the bible speaks of the glory of God it means the weightiness and splendor of his presence, the honor and esteem that is due him, the dignity and majesty of his position as King and Ruler over all things.
The first time scripture uses the term glory is in Genesis 45. Here Joseph has revealed himself to his brothers and tells them to return and bring his father Jacob to him in Egypt.
So you shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that you have seen; and you shall hurry and bring my father down here. [Genesis 45:13]
Joseph has risen from the slave pit to become the most powerful official in Egypt other than Pharaoh himself. The glory he has in Egypt is his exalted position, his power and authority, the honor in which he is held by all.
That’s what we mean when we speak of the glory of the Lord.
So when Jesus says,
Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You.
He is asking God to exalt and honor Him.
Or consider this from Matthew 6,
Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. [Matthew 6:2]
Doing good deeds to be seen and have the recognition and accolades of other people is seeking glory from men. Honor, esteem, exalted in their eyes.
So this is our working definition of glory,
honor, esteem, praise, and renown for great goodness, beauty, splendor, and/or magnificence.
So if something, or someone, is of great goodness, beauty, splendor, or magnificence, it is honored, esteemed, and praised to great renown among men.
So we can speak of the glory of ancient Rome, or the glory won on the battlefield, or the glory of the cross.
Therefore, to glorify someone, is to hold them in a position of honor and high esteem, to praise them and make their name known to others for their great goodness, beauty, splendor, and magnificence. It is to value them above all else.
So one thing should be noted here. When we glorify God by valuing Him, honoring Him, esteeming Him above all else. We are not adding to God’s value or worth or glory. He is worthy of all praise and glory as He is in Himself.
When we glorify God, we are simply doing our duty as His creatures, and making His worth and beauty known, to ourselves and others. We are not adding to God.
2. glory demonstrated
The question is, how do we glorify God practically? Fortunately, Jesus tells us how in our text today.
In verse 1, Jesus asks the Father to glory the Son, so that the Son may glorify the Father.
In verse 5, He again asks to be glorified with the Father,
…with the glory which I had with You before the world was. [John 17:5]
So the three persons of God mutually hold one another in high honor and esteem, and have for eternity.
Now look at verse 4.
I have glorified You on the earth.
I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.
What was that work? His active obedience to the law of the Old Covenant. Jesus glorified the Father by his obedience.
Now the reason obedience is glorifying is because His perfect obedience demonstrated the great value he placed on honoring God. He held the Father in the place of supreme preeminence in His life, above the desires of His flesh.
In other words, He had loved the Lord with all His heart, soul, mind, and strength. He loved God more than He loved his flesh. He loved God more than He loved food, or family, or comfort, or life itself.
3. glory applied
But now we come to the difficult part. Jesus glorified God with His life and His death, and we are commanded to do the same. So how do we eat, drink, and do all to the honor, esteem, praise, and renown of the great goodness, beauty, splendor, and magnificence of God?
How do you go to church to the glory of God?
How will you go to work tomorrow to the glory of God?
How will you drink water to the glory of God?
Church to the glory of God
Let’s start with going to church, since we’re here already. How do we do church stuff to the glory of God? It sounds easy enough, after all, we’re singing about/to God, praying to God, reading God’s word, the bible. It seems everything we’re doing here is about God and should easily be to His glory. But maybe not. We could do all these things for our own glory instead.
When you come to church, do you come for what you’ll get out of it? Or do you come because it is God’s revealed will for his people to gather as a church to worship Him (Hebrews 10:25)? One way, you glorify yourself. The other way, you glorify God.
You glorify God by obeying Him, because he is worth obeying. He is God, and you are not.
This applies to all of God’s commands, not just the command to go to church. If you know God has commanded a thing, or forbidden a thing. Obeying Him is glorifying Him. Your obedience demonstrates that you hold God is a position of honor and esteem above your own desires.
So we come to church in obedience. And while you’re here…
When you sing, do you think about how YOU feel? Or do you think about the One about whom, and to whom, you are singing? Do you consider His great goodness, beauty, splendor, and magnificence. And then sing in such a way as to honor, esteem, praise, and make His name great, both in your own heart and in the ears of those who hear?
When you listen to the sermon, do you listen to hear something about yourself, or about God?
Jesus taught us to pray with the opening line of the prayer being concerned with the glory and honor of His name.
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed by Your name. [Matthew 6:9]
And the prayer ends with the glory of God.
For Yours is the kingdom
and the power
and the glory
forever. Amen. [Matthew 6:13]
Is that the focus of our prayers? Or are we more concerned with ourselves? Whose glory are we seeking?
You see, it is possible to do all the church things with the focus in the wrong place, the desire of the heart fixed on the wrong goal, and our worship becomes offensive to our God.
But there is a way to do these things to His glory and not our own. We just need to be reminded of that, often.
Work to the glory of God
Tomorrow morning, we’ll all be faced with another week. A week of work, housework, and school. So how can we go to work, inside or outside the home, or go to school, inside our outside the home, to the glory of God?
When you work, at a job or school, you have two options. You can do your best, or you can be lazy. Being lazy doesn’t glorify God, no matter how you look at it.
If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread. [2 Thessalonians 3:10-12]
There’s a command for you. Work! And if we look at the example of God in creation, we’ll notice that the work He does is above reproach. It is of the highest quality. He didn’t cut corners, He didn’t waste time, He didn’t do sloppy work.
When we work, we should pursue excellence.
But again, it is possible to work hard, and do great work, to our own glory rather than God’s. Much of that has to do with the motivations of your heart. But some of it has to do with how you do your work to be noticed. Would you do the same quality work if you knew no one would ever see it, other than God? If so, then you may be doing it to His glory.
Even so, it is possible to think too highly of yourself. The trick here is to do the work to the best of your ability because God gave you that ability and you want to honor Him with it. Can you take as much joy in a job well done by someone else, as you can when it’s done by yourself?
And of course, doing your work to the glory of God means obeying Him in all things. That means not lying, stealing, or breaking any other of God’s moral law.
Drinking water to the glory of God
But now we come to the difficult part of this. How do you take a drink of water before bed tonight to the glory of God?
Jesus lived His life to the glory of God. He did nothing for the glory of His human nature. Which means, that He ate and drank and slept and all the other little things that are part of being human, to the glory of God.
And the command we started with was explicit about this.
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. [1 Corinthians 10:31]
So I’ve picked one part of the daily routine and I’m asking: how do you take a drink of water to the glory of God?
I would guess that all of us will take a drink of water at some point today. So how do we glorify God in that?
First, you take the drink. Be a good steward of the body God gave you and drink the water.
Second, and this is key, you drink with a thankful heart. God made water. It’s a good thing. He designed your body to feel thirst when you need water to sustain life. That’s a very good thing. And water quenches that thirst. So you are thankful for that. And remember that we live in a part of the world where clean drinking water is pretty easy to come by. Others are not so fortunate. So be thankful.
Third, you let the thirst remind you of your frailty. You need to drink water, or you’ll die. God designed it that way for a reason. We need constant reminders, and he gave them to us in the forms of hunger and thirst, constant reminders that we are not autonomous beings. We are not self-sufficient. We need something from outside ourselves to sustain us. That’s intentional. That’s glorious, because it points us to God as the source of all life.
So you drink. You drink thankfully. You drink humbly. And finally you drink from faith. The bible says that “whatever is not from faith is sin.” [Romans 14:23]
So you drink from faith. Faith that God’s created order works and the water will quench your thirst and will sustain your life. But more than that, you drink from faith in the One who made you and the water. You drink from faith that the One who turns water into wine [John 2:7] has turned your heart of stone into a spring of living water [John 7:38].
That’s how you drink water to the glory of God.
Now, I’m not saying you have to stop and run through all that in your mind every time you grab a glass of water, but it wouldn’t hurt! I am saying that you do make this way of thinking a way of life, so that your life becomes a display of the glory of God in the world.
I want to make two points and wrap up. If you remember nothing else from today, remember these two things.
First, there is no such thing as a sacred/secular divide. The material world isn’t bad. It is God’s good creation. And we are to live all of life in it to the glory of God. All of life, even something as mundane as taking a sip of water before bed.
Second, though we don’t do this perfectly, Jesus did. Jesus lived His entire life to the glory of God, and He gave that life for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him [2 Corinthians 5:21].
I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. [John 17:4]
What glorious good news! Jesus, lived a life of perfect obedience to the will of the Father, glorifying God in all things. And He gave that life to save sinners like you and me.
Now we can live to the glory of God, because Jesus already did.