How to Glorify God
One of the most frequently quoted statements from the Westminster Standards is the answer to the first catechism question, "What is the chief end of man? Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever." This concise statement of man's purpose in life gives meaning and purpose to all of life. As we continue our discussion of Reformed piety, we need to consider this great goal.
But I am afraid that this statement, which has become a watchword for Reformed piety, suffers from sloganizing. We use it so often that we don't really think about what we are saying.
We may start out quite well by defining "glorifying God" as bringing glory to Him in word and deed.
We know that it means praising God; Psalm 50:23: "Whoso offereth praise glorifieth Me." We also know that we glorify Him by loving and obeying Him. Christ says in John 14:15: "If ye love Me, keep My commandments." And again in Matthew 5:16: "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
But then we come to Paul's statement in 1 Corinthians 10:31: "Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." Well now, how can I glorify God eating a sandwich or mopping a floor? This is where the difficulty begins. How do I go about a normal day as a businessman, housewife or student and do all things to the glory of God?
I would like to offer five suggestions on how we do all things to the glory of God. I am sure there are others in the Bible, but these five principles have helped me greatly in this area.
- The first principle is that everything must be done according to the commands of Scripture. The commands of God affect every area of life. To do something to the glory of God, I must do it within the framework of God's law.
So I eat to the glory of God by eating in moderation and not overindulging. I do my housework to the glory of God by keeping in mind God's ordained priorities and not putting my house before God and before my family. In my school work I am careful not to cheat or to allow someone to cheat from my paper.
To do anything to the glory of God, we must be careful then to examine what we do to see that we are doing it within God's framework.
- The second principle is that I am motivated to please God. What is my motive for doing this thing? Am I doing it to be seen of men or to be seen of God? Paul says in Ephesians 6:5, 6: "Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart." Everything must be done to please God and not men.
The Christian works hard at his job not to be praised by men or receive a promotion, but because he knows God is watching and that God wants him to do his best. The Christian glorifies God on the football field or on the tennis court not to be considered the best, but to subdue this part of creation for God's pleasure.
So to glorify God, we are to be motivated by His love and not our own honor.
- The third principle is that we do it in dependence on God. Romans 11:36: "For of Him, and through Him and to Him, are all things; to Him be glory forever." We do all things of and through Him. He is the source and means of every task. The Christian is to do nothing in his own strength or ability.
This is why we pause to give thanks at our meals. We are acknowledging that no matter how wealthy we are, this food is only on our table by the grace of God. The Christian mechanic does not rely only on his own ability but seeks God's aid in every job.
The Christian housewife seeks the strength and aid of God in all her tasks. The Christian musician seeks the help of God in playing each note. When we depend on God to accomplish our tasks, we are doing them to His glory.
- A fourth principle and closely connected to the third is to give thanks to Him for it. The Bible commands us to give thanks in all things. We recognize that all our privileges, benefits and possessions are tokens of a loving father. They are pledges to us of our adoption.
So we thank God for letting us go fishing and for the pretty song. We glorify God in all things as we thank Him for them and for the privilege of doing them.
- The final principle is that we do it wholeheartedly. Colossians 3:23: "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men." To do something to the glory of God, I put all I have into it.
The Christian works hardest and plays hardest. He doesn't halfheartedly do his work, but puts all he has into it and God is pleased by such effort. The Christian laborer gives a full day's work to the employer. The Christian student gives his full intellectual capacity to his schoolwork. We do it to the best of our ability and God will be glorified. We can apply these things to everything that we do.
In Psalm 149:4a we read: "For the Lord takes pleasure in His people." He not only takes pleasure in our religious exercises, but in all things in life that we do for His glory. What a joy there is to life when we realize that God is pleased with our work and play.