Question:

A few days ago, I was reading I Corinthians 10:31, the passage about "do all to the glory of God." Although I'm still not 100% clear on the exact meaning, the passage really made me think hard about myself in relation to God. The entire time I have been a Christian (or so I hope), I have had faith in Christ and have tried to obey the moral law as the Bible says. Because of this, I felt fairly certain I was saved. However, after reading this verse as well as one of Charles Finney's essays, "On Sinning," I realize that I may not be as much a Christian as I thought.

You see, I do not think I love God. I have always been afraid of Him, afraid of trusting Him, afraid of what might happen if I went beyond just obeying the morals in the Bible and strived to be more spiritual. I have never said prayers like I know I should and never really praised him (besides thanking Him in my occasional prayers). When I would struggle with abandoning a sinful habit, the thought of giving it it up "for the glory of God" was so painful that I had to invent a new rationale, such as for dirty talking, "People will think poorly of me if I don't stop." So I have failed in many of the duties prescribed in the New Testament, which has made me doubt my salvation.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you know anyone who has struggled with this mindset?


Answer:

There seems to be a number of concepts which you have which don't match up to the Scriptures.

What is "glory?" Two people assisted at car accident to rescue a woman from the wreckage. As the news reporter interviewed one man he said, "Oh, I was there, but I barely did anything. It was the other man who took the real risks." What did that man do? He gave glory (or honor) to the other man that could have been his.

When we teach God's Word and people's lives are improved as a result, where does the honor go? To the teacher or to the doctrine? If a person does a deed of kindness because that was what Jesus instructed us to do, who gets the glory? "If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen" (I Peter 4:11).

Paul's point in I Corinthians 10 was that a Christian should put the concerns of his brother ahead of his own. He willingly gives up his "rights" so that another's conscience is not offended. He does so because that is what the Lord commanded. "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:34-35). In applying this command, who gets the honor, the man who gave up his rights, or the God who taught him how to prefer his brother? Paul states it goes to God. "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved" (I Corinthians 10:31-33). Or, another way to put it, my life isn't about me.

Fear of God isn't a bad thing, but when you state that you fear to trust God, then we have problems. "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding" (Proverbs 9:10). That is one of the right ways to fear God just as many of listened to our parents, in part, because we feared them. However, a fear to trust God is a lack of faith because faith is trust. "Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday" (Psalm 37:3-6).

To give up a sin because you fear the consequences is giving glory to God because you are declaring that:

  1. You believe that God exists,
  2. He has given you laws to obey, and
  3. He has the power to enforce those laws.

When I say I'm not going to sin because I'll end up in Hell because of it, I'm saying my God is real and that He cares about righteousness. Is that not one way to glorify God?

Ultimately though, I know that God says sins are wrong because they are harmful. I trust God's judgment. I might not fully understand the harm, but I know God does, and I know He means what He said, so I honor His law with my obedience.