May 4, 2017

Glorify God by . . .

“For you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)
How can I glorify God? Years ago, a 7-8 part sermon series on the topic left me uncertain that I was a Christian, never mind able to do it. Yet this is why I was saved — to bring glory to God.

A few days ago, I was thinking too literally about the above verse in the sense that it was bodily activities only. Of course this is narrow. Whatever I do with my body comes from my value system and that comes from what I believe. So if I believe that Jesus Christ saved me, then I must think, talk, and behave accordingly.

Most of the New Testament books first state what Christians believe, then follow with how that affects our lives. By following what Scripture says, God is glorified by those actions. Here are a few of them from Ephesians 4:25-5:2:

Speak the truth. “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” Lies are the work of Satan. Obviously we don’t want to work with him!

Deal with anger. “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” Note that anger without sin is possible, but ‘righteous indignation’ is a God-thing. I need to be careful how I label my anger

Give up former sinful selfishness and replace it with what will help others. “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” The example is a thief, yet this can apply to all sorts of things. If I was a gossip, or a cheat, or given to jealousy, or whatever else, God has an opposite activity for me that will do good for others instead of indulging my sinful desires.

Speak words that communicate God’s grace to others. “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Here, corrupting talk refers to ‘unsound, damaged, useless, decayed.’ Grace is God’s blessings at Christ’s expense. Think before I speak!

Avoid whatever brings sorrow to the Lord. “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Because the Holy Spirit lives in me, I will feel His sorrow when I do something that grieves Him. That is my cue to confess whatever it was as sin, and turn from it.

Put off harsh reactions to life. “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” No explanations needed!

Put on loving attitudes toward others. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” If someone’s sin riles me, think about my own sin and what God has done with it!

Learn about Jesus and be like Him. “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” This means loving others with His sacrificial love, giving up what I want for me, and doing what God wants for them.  

This short list is clear; living the Christian life is not possible without faith in Christ and a changed heart. While a non-Christian might be able to imitate a few of these with an external show, their motivation will not be, and cannot be, from the Lord who lives within.

It has taken me years to learn that when I fail to glorify God, I need to go deeper than confessing the failure. If my behavior comes from my values, and my values comes from what I believe, then the underlying flaw points to a problem with my faith. Confessing the act of sin is one thing; confessing the reasons why I disobeyed God digs right at the heart of the matter. For this, God makes an astonishing promise:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
Forgiveness is expected when confession is made; forgiveness is what God does because of Jesus Christ and the Cross of Calvary. However, there is another promise here: He will also cleanse those who confess — cleanse us from all our unrighteousness. Cleanse means to purge, to make clean. That is, the lie that I believed (instead of the truth) and the false values that I had — are washed out. To be sure, I can invite them back, but the promise is still there.

God invites me to glorify Him and to do it, He provides all that I need, and cleanses from me all that I don’t need, all that will not glorify Him. The key? Being open and honest with Him every time I fail so that He can renew my mind and get me on track in my faith, values and behavior.

Jesus, Your incredible salvation is far more than mere ‘pie in the sky by and by.’ You change lives. You have changed my life and You will continue to do so. It is an honor and a privilege to be given all that I need to glorify You. Thank You for Your incredible patience and Your incredible salvation!

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