1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1. So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God,33 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. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
Paul’s big summary statement here may seem strange. He tells us to live for God’s glory and then talks about people. It sounds like we are living for others not for God. But in actuality those are both the same thing. Here’s how:
Doing all to the glory of God IS living for the good of others. It is giving no offense. It is pleasing everyone in everything we do. It is not seeking our own advantage. It is desiring the salvation of others.
What is the glory of God? Exodus 33:17-34:9 helps us answer this question. His glory is something visible and yet overwhelming when seen in its fullness. It is his transcendent beauty and light. Moses could not look directly at the glory of God that shown from God’s face. So God only let Moses see his back.
God’s glory is also something invisible. It is his character. His goodness. When God told Moses that his glory would pass by, he said “I will cause my goodness to pass by you.” God’s goodness is both his love and holiness. God is gracious and compassionate and forgiving of sin. And yet he always punishes sin to the point of destroying it.
God’s invisible glory, his goodness, love, and holiness, were made the most clearly visible at the cross of Jesus. His death for mankind displayed the goodness, perfect love and forgiveness of God, and also God’s perfect holiness and punishing of sin. The cross is the most glorious event that the world has ever or will ever see. Why? Because it revealed the glorious face of God. The face that had to be hidden from Moses, was on display in Christ Jesus. That is, Jesus was the glorious presence of God with man, for the good of man, in order to redeem man to God. Every sin was forgiven and punished simultaneously in Christ’s death on the cross. God’s greatest display of his glory, the cross, was for the good of others.
This is why when Paul speaks of living for the glory of God in whatever we do, he is talking about living for the good of others. And the good of others comes by the love and holiness of Christ displayed in his choice to die. And now it is displayed in our life choices to “die” for others daily as a living sacrifice.
Living for the glory of God is now brought out of the rafters of super spirituality where the Corinthians thought it was. Our everyday basic choices are for the glory of God. Eating, drinking, whatever, can all be for the glory of God when they are done with the good of others in mind. Anything done to benefit the other, and not seek your own rights or advantages can be for the glory of God. Anything that builds others up is for the glory of God. Anything that moves people along in their journey with Christ is for God’s glory.
Eat the meat from the pagan temple or don’t eat the meat, both are fine (as long as you don’t worship the idol attached to the meat). The real choice is which will glorify God? And that question is answered by asking, “which will strengthen the other Christians around me?” You see, your relationship to God is not only vertical – between you and God alone through your private choices. Your relationship to God is actually lived out horizontally – between you and others through the relational choices you make each day.
“To live is Christ” is to live for the glory of God. Christ in us makes this possible. His life in you allows you to live for the good of others and thus display the glory and goodness of God. How? Because when you have the love, security, and grace of Christ in you, you are able to now set your own rights aside. You can “eat” or “not eat.” It doesn’t matter. Whatever you miss out on in this life for the good of others and the salvation of their soul, you will receive back 10 million times in the eternal glory of Christ’s kingdom.
Are you able to see how living for others is the same as living for the glory of God? Do you make your daily choices in light of what is best for just yourself, or for those around you? Are you an offensive Christian? Do you expect people in your community or culture to act like you even when it is not a biblical or godly issue? How does trusting in your union with Christ allow you to live for the benefit of others over yourself?
Take a minute and listen to this great TED talk from Emily Esfahani Smith. How do her four pillars of meaning relate to the gospel? How does her talk fall short of the gospel?