1 Corinthians 10:31 NASB is something I usually end my prayers with. It says, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” My prayer is that whatever we do, we do it with a mindset of giving God glory. I usually end my prayers by quoting this verse because it is all-encompassing. It just feels appropriate. Everything we do as Christians should (keyword being should) be within the scope of this verse. We could definitely have worse mantras in our lives.
As Christians, of course, we want God glorified, and we want to bring glory to God. But do we really know what it means? Do we really understand what we are talking about? Maybe we say it in our prayers because it feels like the right thing to say. It becomes a blanket statement to cover things we do just to make us feel that we are glorifying God in what we do. Like when we’re about to study for that exam, and we pray that God would bless our preparation. We pray that our exam preparation would glorify God. Although if we were being completely honest, we pray that prayer simply to give ourselves a “God-glorifying” stamp onto our study to convince ourselves that we glorify God regardless whether or not it in fact glorifies God.
We can save the topic of God’s glory for another time. That’s not what I’m writing about right now. I’m not talking about the Isaiah 6 glory necessarily. I’m talking about glorifying God in our actions. Remember? “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” The verse is talking about glorifying God in whatever you do.
The context of that verse is at the conclusion to Paul’s answer to a question asked of him. The question was whether or not Christians are allowed to eat food sacrificed to idols. His answer begins in chapter 8 and ends in chapter 10. It is true that Christians are free in Christ and that all food is clean. Christians can freely eat any food, even those sacrificed to the Greek idols.
Paul’s response in chapter 8 is to his audience that if by eating those foods they stumble their weaker Christian brothers, they should not eat that food. If their actions tear down the local body of believers rather than building it up, they should refrain from eating. In chapter 9, Paul says that if any action would cause a “hindrance to the gospel of Christ”, it should not be done. So whatever we do as Christians, if it creates doubt in the minds of unbelievers or causes the gospel to be implausible in the eyes of the unbelievers, then we should be free to choose not to do it, for the sake of the gospel. Having addressed their actions influencing weaker brothers and unbelievers, he now addresses their actions influencing themselves. In chapter 10, Paul says that if any activity they do leads them to temptation, they should not engage in that activity. If by doing it, they are walking a fine line or testing God, they should flee from it.
So, indeed that verse is all-encompassing. In Paul’s mind, we must ask ourselves these questions about our actions:
Does it build up and strengthen believers? Or does it stumble or weaken the faith of our brothers and sisters in Christ?
Does it help the unbelievers to understand how the gospel is to be lived out? Or does it cause them to doubt the plausibility or the credibility of the gospel?
Does it help us stand firm in our faith in Christ? Or are we playing with fire or treading on the boundaries of our Christian ethics?
Another thing that crossed my mind as I was thinking about this was Deuteronomy 26:1-10 NASB. This section describes a Jewish feast called Firstfruits. Observed on the third day after the Passover and the second day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, this ceremony was a time of thanksgiving for God’s provision. Verse 1 through 9 are a reminder of all God had done for Israel as well as a call to continue in obedience. Verse 10 is the description of Firstfruits as a response.
In the New Testament, James calls believers “a kind of firstfruits among His creatures” (James 1:18 NASB). Just like the sheaf of grain was set apart for the Lord, believers are set apart for God’s glory. 1 Corinthians 15:20 NASB says, “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.” Jesus’ resurrection has paved the way for our resurrection. Paul taught the Corinthian believers to set aside a collection “on the first day of every week.” (1 Corinthians 16:2 NASB). And, just as the offering of firstfruits was an occasion of thanksgiving, so the Christian is to give with gladness.
In summary, the Feast of Firstfruits symbolizes God’s harvest of souls. It sets a pattern of giving back to Him the first (and the best) of what He has given us. How can you give God your first fruits? Let me give you two things.
First, is He the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning? And do you then think of how to give Him the best portions of yourself? Of your day, your time, and your money? And second, do you enjoy doing things that give God glory? Or do you enjoy giving glory to God? What I mean is, do you do the things you enjoy primarily because you enjoy it but if asked you can somehow justify it as an activity meant to give God glory? Say you enjoy playing basketball. Do you then play basketball because you want to use the skill God has gifted you with to glorify Him? And do you use basketball as a means of fellowship with those in the church or as an avenue of evangelism to those outside of the church? Or do you play basketball with believers and unbelievers, never using what God has given you for His glory?
Do all to the glory of God. It’s a pretty important thing to be thinking of. And like the Westminster Shorter Catechism says, it is our sole purpose, really our only purpose. “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”