The Sacrament of Living
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Paul’s exhortation to “do all to the glory of God” is more than pious idealism. It is an integral part of the sacred revelation and is to be accepted as the very Word of Truth. It opens before us the possibility of making every act of our lives contribute to the glory of God. Lest we should be too timid to include everything, Paul mentions specifically eating and drinking. This humble privilege we share with the beasts that perish. If these lowly animal acts can be so performed as to honor God, then it becomes difficult to conceive of one that cannot.
Think of a Christian believer in whose life the twin wonders of repentance and the new birth have been wrought. He is now living according to the will of God as he understands it from the written Word. Of such a one it may be said that every act of his life is or can be truly sacred as prayer, or baptism, or the Lord’s Supper. To say this is not to bring all acts down to one dead level; it is rather to lift every act up into a living kingdom and turn the whole life into a sacrament. If a sacrament is an eternal expression of an inward grace, then we need not hesitate to accept the above thesis. By one act of consecration of our total selves to God, we can make every subsequent act express that consecration.
That we see this truth is not enough. We must practice living to the glory of God,actually and determinedly. By meditation upon this truth, by talking it over with God often in our prayers, by recalling it to our minds frequently as we move about among men, a sense of wondrous meaning will take hold of us. The old painful duality will go down before a restful unity of life. The knowledge that we are all God’s, that He has received all and rejected nothing, will unify our inner lives and make everything sacred to us.
A. W. Tozer
When our daughter was small, we were having dinner together. She had eaten about half of her food and told us she was full. A few minutes later she was wanting dessert. I said to her, “But you just told me that you were full, so how can you have room for dessert?” “Dad,” she explained, “ don’t you know that my the food part of my belly is full but my dessert part is still empty.” Needless to say she got the dessert .
Often we as Christians see our lives as compartments. There is our “church life,” our “work life,” and our “home life.” And in each of these places we act as if they were all separate and without overlap. Sometimes we will put on a whole different attitude and conversation and almost act as a different person in each place. I think that we all probably have participated in this as children who acted one way around our friends and another way around our parents. Sometimes the world is right in their calling us hypocrites as they observe this categorization of our lives.
In John 17 we read that Jesus declared to the Father that He had given Him glory through His living. We ought not interpret this to mean that Christ had done so only through His teaching or His miracles. Indeed it isn’t hard to imagine that His very life in everything brought glory to God. Every small thing in His life became a moment to glorify the Father. Think, for example, of His being at a wedding and the host running out of wine. I know that we make this a special thing since we read that Christ provided the miracle of turning water into wine but in all actuality it was just a normal moment in the life of Christ. Here was a situation and Christ only came to the wedding as a guest but when Mary asked Him to do something, He saw it as an opportunity to glorify His Father for none but God can make water wine.
As he comes into the village, tired from ministry and travel, He sits where any other traveler would sit, on a bench at the community well. As the woman approaches He asks her a normal question. This would not be an unusual request other than the fact that a Jew was asking a Samaritan for a drink of water. And that drink of water lead to a woman and a village coming to the Father and receiving living water.
One day Phillip says to Jesus, “Show us the Father.” Jesus replied, “If you’ve seen Me you’ve seen the Father.” The lesson of this is that all of our life ought to bring glory to God. Besides offering thanks for our food, our saying grace and our eating ought to be an act that brings glory to God. What I’m getting at is that every piece of our living should be directed toward giving God glory.
This then causes us to ask the question, “Is this which I’m doing bring honor or dishonor to Christ?” If someone who doesn’t know God observes my conduct, will they see God in my actions and deeds and words? This may sound like some kind of religious fanaticism but in truth it is merely understanding the fact and receiving it into our hearts and then acting upon this teaching that “we are not our own, we have been bought with a price.
One final example to make this point that our everyday normal activities ought to bring glory to God as we live out His purpose for us. In my shop I have over the years accumulated tools. Each of them exist to serve me and my purpose. Whenever I am doing work that requires them, I just pick them up and they work for me and with me to create what I am making at the moment. They do so without thought or objection because they have been purchased for that very purpose. The finished product is then something that in a small way brings glory to me the creator and these tools have each contributed. When people view whatever I have made and compliment me on it I know that each of those tools were part and they provided the means that honors my work and effort. We as Christians must grasp the concept that we too have been bought for the very purpose of glorifying God. God did not buy a timeshare but all of our time. God did not purchase or lease space in our hearts but He bought our whole being. Therefore we glorify God whether we are at church, at work or at home in every thing we participate in. There is no “food” or “dessert” compartment in which we can separate our church life from our other life. We are one with ourself and every act great or small either gives glory to God or dishonors Him. Once you understand this the living as a Christian consumes your whole being and you can truly say with Jesus, “Father I have glorified you on earth.”
Dr. John Thompson