In the last section, we looked at what the Bible tells us about worshiping as an individual. We looked at what it means to worship God in spirit and truth. We also saw that we worship Him when we place ultimate worth on Him. The big question that follows this study is: “OK – so what does this look like during an average day?” In other words, if all we do is supposed to glorify God, how do we accomplish this by going grocery shopping or running other errands? Cleaning the house? Paying bills? Cooking meals? Basically – how do we glorify God and make much of Him while going about our typical routine?
It is very easy for us to understand how to make much of God (and to do so in spirit and truth) when we are doing things that are considered by many to be specifically designed for that purpose, e.g., praying, reading the Bible, listening to (or preaching) a sermon and singing worshipful music. It is much more difficult to see how to accomplish this through the more mundane.
The reason for this, as I study, is very convicting. We struggle with our mind-set. When I am mowing the lawn, since this is not a task that I enjoy very much, I am typically thinking about what I am going to do when I am done, about how hot (or cold) it is outside, about how much nicer it will look when I am done (as a motivational factor), etc… I am rarely thinking about who God is and what He has done for me (or what He has in store for me)! I am not thankful for the fact that I can walk! I am not praising God that I am blessed with the luxury of even HAVING a lawn to mow! I am not busy being thankful for the great brain power he has bestowed on men in order to invent incredible things like lawn mowers that make keeping the lawn neat and trim much easier! I am not thinking about how much nicer it will be for my neighbors to live next to a house that is well-kept. In point of fact, my mind has sadly done what it does so often, and has drifted to thinking about me, and not about others, and not about God.
Let’s look at what Paul has to say about this, in 1 Corinthians 10:23-33:
” ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For ‘the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.’ 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. 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— I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.” (ESV)
There is an amazing depth to this passage, and there is no way I can address everything here without going far off topic. What does Paul use as his example in this passage? Eating. Eating is a very mundane aspect of life for most of us here in the USA. And even when food is hard to come by, eating isn’t always linked in people’s minds to making much of God the way studying the Bible is. But here, when Paul wishes to illustrate doing ALL THINGS to the glory of God, he uses the mundane. I would submit to you that he did so because of the problem I discussed above: our mind-set.
What we see in this passage is a picture illustrating how putting other’s needs before ours glorifies God. Putting aside our own liberty for the sake of someone else glorifies God because it sets us apart from the world, and it points to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. When we are able to partake in even the mundane with an attitude of service to everyone around us, it glorifies God: and to glorify God is the goal of worship.
In the beginning of the passage, we see that even though all things are lawful, not all things are helpful and not all things build up. Who are they not helpful to? Who do they not build up? Ourselves? Possibly, but who’s focus is Paul on? We see in the very next verse. “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” I believe Paul is telling us here something that is very foreign to American society in general. While we have the liberty to do all things, we are not to be defenders of this freedom. We are not to look out for “number one” as it were. Our focus is to be on being helpful to others, and building others up!
He moves on with an example which, on the one hand, is very mundane: eating. On the other hand, however, this was a particular point of stumbling for many at this time. There were a lot of rules about what Jews should and should not eat. As God’s chosen people, in the Old Testament, they were told not to eat food that had been sacrificed to idols. That was not pure. There were other rules about the type of meat they could eat, what was clean and unclean, etc. These rules had carry-over with many people even though God had made it clear through men like Peter and Paul that things had changed where food was concerned. It was still felt to be very wrong by many to eat certain foods.
Paul says that it is alright to eat anything sold in the meat market without raising any questions of its origin. This, he explains, is because everything belongs to the Lord. Even meat that men had sacrificed to false gods. He takes it a step further and states that if you are invited to dinner by an unbeliever and he serves meat, eat it without raising questions about it origin for the sake of your conscience. All things are lawful. We have the liberty to eat meat no matter where it came from.
Then, we see the change. If someone tells you specifically that the meat has been offered to idols, do not eat it. Why? Because when we are given such knowledge we do not have the liberty to partake anymore? Not at all. He says not to eat it “for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— I do not mean your conscience, but his.” I would point out that it is not clear here who is pointing out that the meat was sacrificed to idols. It could be an unbeliever who is trying to trap the believer into doing something that the unbeliever thinks the believer cannot. It could be an unbeliever who mistakenly thinks that it is wrong for believers to eat this meat and legitimately wants to warn the believer so he doesn’t partake accidentally. It could also be a weaker believer who is convinced that to partake of that meat is wrong. I think that since the comment is stated to be motivated by conscience it is most likely one of the last two options – but it really doesn’t matter.
The point here is that there is obviously a belief, held by the person who is warning the believer of the meat’s origin, that a Christian should not eat meat sacrificed to idols. So, because of THAT person’s belief, and for the sake of THAT person’s conscience, we must not partake at that time. He makes it clear a second time that it would have been perfectly acceptable to eat prior to the warning, and that the warning doesn’t limit our liberty: “For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?” But for the sake of the person who warned you, do not eat it.
Then, the kicker: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.” The word “so” can be replaced by the phrase “because of this,” or “because of what I just said.” He is drawing a conclusion from the previous points. Because we are to seek not our own good, but the good of others, and because we are to be sensitive not of our own liberty, but of the consciences of those around us at any given time, we are to do all for the glory of God! When we seek the good of others, we glorify God! When we focus on others consciences and not our own liberty, we glorify God! Look at the mind set here. It would be sad to miss the forest for the trees. We don’t follow this passage if we grudgingly give up liberties for the sake of the consciences around us.
Glorifying God in all we do involves SEEKING the good of those around us. We aren’t forced. We seek it! In order to incorporate this mind set in everything we do requires thought and prayer. But if we did everything with this mind set, with this radically “un-American” attitude, it is exciting to think of how much glory we would be giving our God!
So in all we do, if we are dwelling on the many blessings God has given us to put us in the position of doing what we are doing (including the breath and life he has given us), and if we dwell on how we can benefit others in what we are doing rather than how this either benefits or doesn’t benefit ourselves, we will be worshiping God in all we do. This is a fantastic challenge, and one that only the Holy Spirit working in us can accomplish.