How Then Shall We Live?

“O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens!” (Psalm 8:1)

If God’s highest purpose is to bring glory to Himself what should our purpose, goals and ambitions be? Surely it has to be the same as God’s – to bring glory to Him.

But that’s just where the problem lies. Mostly as Christians, we are confused over what our goal in life should be by the many books and preachers who each have their own ideas. It seems that the majority of Christians have been misled into believing that their highest purpose is to achieve happiness and to live fulfilled lives. The Bible does not teach that our goal should be personal happiness in fact, this goal is diametrically opposed to God’s purpose.

If our goals conflict with God’s goals, how can we then expect His blessing on our lives. And how can we expect Him to answer our prayers when they are opposed to His will? Each Christian whose goal in life to achieve happiness is doomed to disappointment since God will not help him to achieve that goal.

Believers who are more spiritually discerning emphasize the saving of souls while others stress building the church, establishing a relationship with God, knowing the Scriptures or knowing God. Others speak of doing works of charity or loving one another as the most important work. Each of these objectives is much nobler than seeking personal happiness but is that really what God has in mind for us? Even though each of these aims can be supported by Scriptural mandates, these all still come short of God’s purpose. Yes, saving souls (or any of the other Biblical pursuits) is important. But even if you were to be very successful at doing one of, or all of, those things, you will still miss the highest calling of God upon your life.

The highest call upon every Christian is to glorify God: “Everyone who is called by My name… I have created for My glory” (Isaiah 43:7).

Many think that they bring glory to the Lord through singing songs of praise and through expressions of worship. That is not quite the truth. Praise and worship can bring glory to God, but it is often more man-centered than God-centered, especially when the quality of the worship is judged by how it makes us feel or when the songs contain “I” and “we” more than references to God. Expressions of praise are but a minute part of our duty to glorify God and sadly, many bring more dishonor to God through the way they live than glory through their praise.

We can glorify God through reaching the lost, loving the unlovely or having a relationship with Him. But you can do all those things and still not glorify God when these things become ends in themselves or become means through which we attract attention to ourselves.

In order to truly glorify God, every aspect of our lives needs to be focused on that goal and purpose. “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1Corinthians 10:31). Everything we do must be done to bring glory to God. “Everything” extends to even the mundane things like eating and drinking. And if eating and drinking is included, then nothing else is excluded. Once again, we tend to live most of our lives for our own purposes, yet God’s will is that we should glorify Him, even when we eat.

Most people think that glorifying God is confined to spiritual things. But Paul says that we should glorify God in our bodies also. “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's” (1Corinthians 6:20). This is the reason why we need to do everything, even what we do with, and in our bodies to God’s glory – because He has bought us with a great and terrible price.

We aught to glorify God not just in every aspect of our lives, but even in our death. “So now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death” (Philippians 1:20). Thus no aspect of our life can be excluded from the obligation to do all to His glory. And that is the challenge. The way we conduct ourselves in our families, in business, in recreation, in work and play should all bring glory to Him.

Not only do many Christians not bring glory to God through all of their lives, but some bring dishonor to Him. It is bad enough not bringing Him honor, it is an absolute disgrace to bring dishonor to God through the way we live: “do you dishonor God through breaking the law? For "the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you” (Romans 2:23-24). Causing God’s name to be blasphemed and dishonored has to be one of the worst sins that a Christian can commit and yet it happens a thousand times a day, every day.

We dishonor God through our sinful lifestyles, lack of integrity, self-centeredness, un-thankfulness, laziness, divisions, hatred, bitterness and any of a myriad other ways. How this pains our Father when those who have been bought to glorify Him, rather dishonor Him. I pray that we would just occasionally stop and ask ourselves whether the things we do and the way we live really bring glory to him or whether we dishonor Him.

But more than this. We need to live in such a way that even the unbelievers will glorify Him when they see the way we live! “having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1Peter 2:12).

I think many believers who thought they had done pretty well in serving the Lord, will be very disappointed on the Day of Judgment. Not because they did not work hard to serve the Lord or because they failed to achieve a lot of success in Christian work, but because their labors did not glorify God, or because their lives brought dishonor to God in spite of their hard work.

Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift [them] up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory” (Psalm 24:7-10).