In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul discusses how we can cure carnality and in particular, fleshly fellowship. His conclusion is to say, “do all to the glory of God.” This phrase is of critical importance to the Christian for it marks a reason for our existence and defines a purpose for living. “Do all to the glory of God,” is a phrase that raises a few questions for us. What does it mean to “give glory” or glorify? Why should we glorify God? And if we are to glorify God then we need to ask, how do we bring glory to God? The Bible reveals the answers to these questions.
What Does It Mean to Glorify? In 1 Corinthians 10:31 it states, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” If giving glory to God is something we are to do in “whatever you do,” then that tells us it is something that is very important. But what does that mean, what does giving glory or doing all to the glory mean?
The word “glory” in this verse is translated from the Greek term doxa which means, “dignity, glory (-ious), honour, praise, worship, . . . good opinion, praise, honor, glory, an appearance commanding respect, magnificence, excellence.” We derive the word doxology from this word which is an expression of thanks and glory to God. Doxa is derived from the base Greek term doma which means, “a gift.” When we speak of gift here we should think grace. The word “glorify” is translated from the Greek term doxadzo which means, “to render (or esteem) glorious; (make) glorify (-ious), full of (have) glory, honour, magnify.” Therefore, to give glory or glorify means to give the dignity, honor, respect, praise, and worship appropriate to the gift or standing of object or person. To glorify God means to give Him the dignity, honor, respect, praise, and worship due God as the gracious gift He is to us.
Why Should We Glorify God? We should glorify God because we are commanded to do so in God’s word. This is true based on 1 Corinthians 10:31 and it is also true based on an earlier verse in 1 Corinthians where it states, “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Cor. 6:20). God’s command to give Him glory is not some proud totalitarian demand of a divine despot; far from it. This verse commands us to give glory to God because He bought us, or redeemed us from our sinful state “at a price” which is His only Son Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:18-21; 1 Peter 1:18-19). We owe glory to God because of His great gracious loving sacrifice on our behalf. God gave His all for us and the only appropriate and respectful response from those He gave His all for is to glorify Him (compare Romans 12:1-2). That is the primary reason we should glorify God.
The Bible gives a number of other reasons why we should glorify God.
First, we should glorify God because of His holiness. The Bible says, “Exalt the LORD our God, And worship at His holy hill; For the LORD our God is holy.” (Psalm 99:9). In the New Testament it states, “Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, For Your judgments have been manifested.” (Rev. 15:4). The word "holy” means sacred, pure, unique, special, one of a kind, when it is used in reference to God. God is holy because there is none other like Him and we are to glorify Him because of that.
Second, we should glorify God because of His mercy and truth. The Bible says, “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, But to Your name give glory, Because of Your mercy, Because of Your truth. (Psalm 115:1; See also Romans 15:8-9). Mercy is when we don’t get what we deserve in terms of a penalty. All humanity deserves eternal damnation, but God made a way through His only Son Jesus so that we could be saved from that penalty. And He did this in a way that was truthful. God’s merciful plan of salvation is truthfully all He says it is and all we could ever hope for it to be. That is reason to give glory to God.
Third, we should glorify God because of His faithfulness and truth. That God is faithful and true is good reason to glorify Him (Isaiah 25:1). God is faithful. When God tells us something or promises us something, we can depend on it because He is true and faithful to His word. Pagan God’s are capricious, they say one thing and do another; they say or promise one thing, but are unable to deliver on their claims. That is not our God; our God is faithful and true and powerful enough to deliver on His word and promises. For that we ought to give Him glory.
Fourth, we should glorify God because of His wondrous miraculous works. The Gospel accounts show that when they saw the miracles performed by Jesus they glorified God for them (Matthew 15:31; cf. also Acts 4:21). When Jesus did miracles God was glorified because the impossible had been accomplished. When the apostles performed miracles in the power of the Holy Spirit, (such as heal a lame man – Acts 3-4), the people gave glory to God for God’s power to do the impossible. Notice, God was glorified when Jesus performed the miracles. Notice, when the apostles were used by God to do a miracle, God was glorified. The point to be made here is that God should get the glory for miracles, not men. Jesus is of course God and is to be glorified (Luke 4:14-15; John 7:39; 11:4; 12:16, 23; 13:31-32; 17:4,5, 10; Acts 3:13). But people should not steal God’s glory for the work He does through them. What glory we are associated with is the glorifying of God in and through us as people see His work in us (John 17:10; Galatians 1:24; 2 Thessalonians 1:10-12). When Paul and Barnabas were exalted as gods by the pagans after the Lord healed a man with a crippling birth defect, they tore their clothes and quickly corrected the people (Acts 14:1-18). To take glory to self is a characteristic of the lowest of the unsaved (Romans 1:20-25). In the book of Revelation Babylon the Great is judged for self-glorification (Revelation 18:1-8). We are to give glory to God, not take it upon ourselves.
Fifth, we should glorify God because of His just judgments. In Revelation God is glorified for His just judgments (Rev. 14:6-7). God’s judgments are just, fair, good and righteous and we are to give glory for God for them. He is powerful enough to assert and enforce His judgments and for that we are to give Him glory.
Sixth, we should glorify God because of His deliverance. The Bible says, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” (Psalm 50:15). Whenever we are in trouble we can call upon God and He will deliver us and for that we should glorify Him. The greatest example of this is our salvation. We were living in sin and by nature children of wrath, lost. But God in His rich mercy made a way for us to be saved out of our predicament and so we give Him the glory due His name (Ephesians 2:1-10). Psalm 50:15 tells us that the way we give glory to God is through our testimony. Have you testified to the glory of God lately?
Seventh, we should glorify God because of His gracious salvation and blessing. When people are convicted of their sins and realize they need to be saved and that God has provided salvation from sin through faith in His Son Jesus, it causes them to give glory to God (Acts 11:15-18). When in the book of Acts it became apparent that God was opening the door of ministry to the gentiles God was glorified for His gracious provision. Grace is getting what you don’t deserve and that is what we all receive when we are saved from our sin. Paul is a great example of God‘s gracious provision for which we should glorify Him (Galatians 1:23-24). We should give glory to God for His grace.
Now that you know what giving glory to God is and why we should give glory to God, in the second part of this teaching we will consider how we can give glory to God. Until then, give glory to God!