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Do Everything for the Glory of God

Date: Dec. 29, 2019

Author: Bob Henkins

1 Corinthians 10:23-33

Key Verse: 1 Corinthians 10:31

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God

I remember back in 2016, the year that Liz and Junmo graduated high school and entered college, their class was dubbed “The Class of 2020”. And all sorts of “2020 vision” references were made about them. Well here we are now; we are saying goodbye to the last decade and welcoming in a new one. With 2020 finally upon us, once again our thoughts turn to vision. What does it mean to say that we must have “vision”? Vision is an aspirational description of what an organization would like to achieve or accomplish in the mid or long-term future. It is intended to serve as guide for choosing current and future courses of action. It is a hope of what we could be in the future. This is the reason that every year we choose a key verse, so that we may have vision for our life.

If you remember, last year we chose Romans 8:37 as our key verse, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” And our theme was “Thrive”. This time last year we were in day 9 of the government shutdown. My brother in law, as well as roughly 2M other “essential” people, were working for no pay, while the other roughly 850K government employees weren’t working at all. Remember I mentioned the hyperinflation in Venezuela was at 83K% in July 2018, well last August (2019) their hyperinflation hit 10M%. If a cup of coffee cost $450 Bolivars in 2016, and that same cup of coffee cost 2.5M in 2018, I can’t imagine what it costs now. All of this shows that life struggles are real. And sometimes we feel like we are just barely surviving life, running from day to day just trying to keep up. But God made us for so much more than just surviving, we were made to thrive. We thrive when we know our Father God’s heart, we thrive when we love one another, we thrive when we overcome and conqueror our sins & struggles, we thrive when we lift God’s name on high, we thrive when we have peace that comes from God, we thrive when we realize that we are more than conquerors, we are the children of God. So, for this year’s key verse, I’d like to introduce another way to thrive, and for this, I’d like to present our theme for us in 2020, “Do Everything for the Glory of God”. This is ultimately what we are supposed to end up doing with our life, glorifying God for this is the chief end of man, to glorify God and enjoy him forever.

Ever since our country’s inception, Americans have held on to the ideal of freedom. The Pilgrims came here so that they could have the freedom to worship God. The war of independence was about our freedom from England and ever since we have become known as the “Land of the Free, and home of the brave”. The Civil war was about States rights and human freedom (against human slavery). We are not unfamiliar to the concept of freedom. And it connects well with the text we’ll be studying today. Our passage this morning is part of a larger conversation St. Paul was having regarding a discussion he was having with the Christian believers in Corinth. The believers in Corinth were like Christians gone wild. They were doing a lot of things they shouldn’t have been doing, but in this case, they were getting drunk at Communion and celebrations for idols. And when they were questioned about it, their attitude was like, “Jesus set me free, so I can do what I want”. Doesn’t this sound like the argument people use nowadays. So, Paul was addressing the concept of Christian rights. Let’s take a look at verse 23, it’s where our passage starts. It says, “23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.” In this verse, we can see how Paul began to address their main issue, “You can’t tell me what to do, I have the right to do anything.” Paul’s point was, “We, as Christians, because of God’s immense generosity and grace, have been given wonderful freedom (Rom 8:2 ), but just because we have all this freedom, it doesn’t mean that everything available to us is beneficial or constructive.” For example, unlike other religions, they were free to drink wine, but that didn’t mean that they should be getting drunk, especially at communion. Also, we don’t have restrictions on smoking tobacco, but that doesn’t mean we should do it, it causes cancer. Those are negative examples, what about food, they didn’t have the strict dietary laws the Jews had, they had the freedom to eat whatever they wanted. But that didn’t mean they should eat to excess. In three days, Marijuana will become legal for recreational use in Illinois, but just because it’s legal doesn’t mean that it’s beneficial or constructive for us. God graciously gave his children freedom, but we should use that freedom wisely.

In verse 24 we can see the reason God gave us this freedom it says, “24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” This gives us an example of how we should use our freedom. This verse helps point us in the right direction. We should use our freedom to help others. And this falls in line with Jesus’ summary of the Ten Commandments, “to love God and love others.”

Paul gives us one of his personal examples of how to use our Christian freedom in verses 25-30. He says, “Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26 for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” 27 If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. 29 I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience? 30 If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?” Back in their day the Jews had so many issues around WHAT they could eat and WHO they could eat with. This was, and still is, tremendous freedom for Jews because their dietary laws were so strict and complicated. A Jewish co-worker told me how he couldn’t eat regular Oreo cookies but yet he could eat Oreo double stuff cookies (because the cream filling was synthetic whereas the regular cookies filling was cooked in pork fat). It must be difficult to remember all those restrictions. And what you do when they go out to a restaurant? It would be difficult to make sure the food is prepared the proper way. I imagine that it would limit the number of places you could go out to eat. Sometimes I even wondered about some food that was labeled, Kosher or Halal or when we go to Chinese restaurants that have plates of food by little idols. Peter in Acts 10 ran into this same issue. One day, while he was praying, God gave him a vision of a tablecloth coming down from heaven and on it there were all kinds of “clean” and “un-clean” food. Then God told him to eat it, but he was appalled and said, “Surely not Lord.” Then God said, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” (Act 10:15) This happened three times until Peter finally got the message. Then right after his vision, Cornelius, a Roman centurion, more specifically a Gentile, invited him to dinner. All of this was strictly forbidden, but the Holy Spirit told him to go and eat.

So, Paul made it clear, because of God’s wonderful grace, you are free to eat WHATEVER you want, with WHOEVER you want. If you want to have a ham and cheese omelet with a side of bacon and sausage with an atheist/Satanist go ahead enjoy yourself; eat everything placed before you. It would be both bad manners and bad spirituality to cross-examine your host on the ethical purity of each course as it is served. On the other hand, if they go out of their way to tell you that it was sacrificed to Satan, then you should pass. Even though you don’t care where it came from, they do, and you don’t want to send them mixed messages about who YOU worship.

(For additional info: 1 Timothy 4:4-5 says “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.” And Titus 1:15 tells us, “To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.”)

And finally, Paul gets to the crux of his message in verses 31-33, the reason for our creation, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God- 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.” Paul was like, “Go ahead and eat your meals heartily, don’t worrying about what others say about you—you’re eating to God’s glory, after all, not to please them. As a matter of fact, do everything that way, heartily and freely to God’s glory. At the same time, don’t be callous as you use your freedom, thoughtlessly stepping on the toes of those who aren’t as free as you are. I try my best to be considerate of everyone’s feelings in all these matters; so that they may put their faith in Jesus.”

So why do have verse 31 as our key verse for 2020? Often, we tend to separate our life into different parts, we have the spiritual part, what we do on Sundays, or at church, over here and then we have another part at work over here and another part at home and we compartmentalize our life into as many parts as we desire. And often we simply divide it up into the sacred versus the secular. But, from God’s point of view, there isn’t any separation, all of it matters, everything is eternal, for God sees it all. And so, what 1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us is that we need to remove those barriers and whatever we do, we need to do it ALL for the glory of God. So many passages in the Bible support this idea:

1 Peter 4:1-11 encourages us to use the precious gifts God gave us from serving, to teaching, speaking, to whatever it is that you do, from the small mundane things all the way up to the big things, all of them can be done as an act of worship to God. Verses 10-11 tell us “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:10-11) Connecting this back to 2020 and the concept of vision, we need to turn our eyes away from all our tasks that we have to do and turn our eyes to Jesus and look at all the wonderful gifts that he blessed us with.

Colossians 3:1-25 talks about putting your heart into whatever you do. Don’t do anything halfhearted, do your work as if it is for God not for man because God sees everything, and he is in all of it and we can do it all as an act of worship. Verses 23-24 tell us, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-24) For this, we need to look away from our human masters and turn our eyes to Jesus our Lord and Savior. If we only look at our current situation, it is hard to glorify God because we are just struggling to survive. We need to look beyond our human situation and look up heaven where Jesus sits, and our inheritance awaits us.

Ephesians 2:1-10 tells us that we are God’s handiwork (workmanship), we were created and made his purpose. To tell God’s story of grace, to show the riches of God’s grace through how we live, in everything that we do. Verses 4-10 tells us, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:4-10) From these verses we learn that we need to look past the cravings of our sinful desires and how we seek to gratify them, and turn our eyes to Jesus and look full into his wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace. We need to look beyond our situation, to Jesus, and how we can live for him in everything we do, from the small things where no one sees us but God, to the big things when we are in public view. In that way, we can live for the glory of God. We are looking forward to the next kingdom, to heaven, where all we do will glorify God. In this world, that’s our hope, but in heaven that will be our reality.

As many of you know, for the past ten or so years, I have been working in a very toxic work environment. Often, I just complained about working in that difficult situation looking at my bad surroundings. What I didn’t realize was that even in times like this God could be glorified if only I could look up and turn my eyes upon Jesus. I realized that I could glorify God, IF ONLY I COULD EMBRACE THEM, and learn from God as he was trying to teach me many things such as humility, obedience and patience, if only my eyes were looking at him. And now that things appear to be getting better at work, I realize that I could have done better to glorify God during that dark part of my life. I and all of us need to remember this: All of our actions matter, just as long as you do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you. Because He made you to do Every little thing that you do to bring a smile to His face, to tell the story of grace with every move that you make. Whatever you do, all of it matters, you can do EVERYTHING as an act of worship and glorify God IF you have the RIGHT attitude and your eyes are focused on Jesus.

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