…so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. (Eph. 1:12)
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Cor. 10:31)
Summer is short in the Midwest. Therefore, as a boy, most of my summer days were spent riding bikes with my brothers and friends. Day and night we rode as many hours as possible. For that reason, my parents insisted that we fasten numerous reflectors onto our bikes. Reflectors on the front, reflectors on the rear, and reflectors mounted to each wheel ensured that any approaching vehicle’s headlights made us visible. Each reflector was not a source of light itself, but simply mirrored another light. Such is God’s intention for every follower of Christ. We are lights of the world, but we are not the source of light ourselves. Instead, to the extent that we reflect Jesus—the true light of the world—we reflect God’s glory (see Matt. 5:14; John 9:5; Phil. 2:15).
As the apostle Paul concludes his thoughts about the partnership of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in accomplishing the redemption and transformation of sinners, he declares its purpose: “so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.” Another way to say it is this: We were saved to glorify God. But what does this mean?
The glory of God refers to the weight of all his perfections. Therefore, to glorify God surely does not mean we add anything to the perfections of God, but it means we magnify or draw more attention to him. Let me illustrate this another way. To glorify God means to take a wallet-size portrait and make it look like an 11×17 wall-mounted print. Everything we do should be done to enlarge God’s glory so that other people’s opinion of him is magnified. In short, glorifying God means reflecting his likeness and making the invisible God more visible to others. To glorify God means to enlarge or improve his reputation in our sinful, broken world.
You may ask, “What do you mean, improve God’s reputation? God will take care of his own reputation.” That’s true, but only to an extent. One of the results of Spirit-empowered transformation in our lives is that we progressively become reflectors of his character in every part of our lives: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). “Glory” is from the Greek word doxa, which means to give a good opinion. In the original context in which this admonition was written, some believers in Corinth were fiercely advocating for the full, open use of spiritual liberties even when they were aware it might harm another Christian’s spiritual growth. Therefore, the apostle challenged them to pursue the glory of God, not their own selfishness, as the greater goal.
Therefore, as a follower of Christ, you are called to do all things in such a manner that God’s reputation is improved in the minds of other people. God’s reputation itself does not need to be improved in the sense that any change needs to take place in him. No. He is God! He is already perfect! He is the very definition of perfection. However, in the minds of others the opinion of God needs to increase.
In Christ, there is no such thing as sacred and secular. “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17). Everything you do, as a believer in Christ, is sacred. Everything you do, therefore, should not merely be for your own benefit, but to increase people’s opinion of God.
In Christ, one of your greatest honors is to represent him on earth, to reflect his righteousness and mercy to a world that desperately needs to see a picturesque balance of grace and truth. How is your reflection?