As a child, wanting to prove I was right and hoping to stump my parents, I often countered a ruling with the question, “But how is that even wrong?” This always seemed like a totally valid argument, but it never really got me far with my parents; they always countered back, “It’s wrong because I say you can’t do it, and I’m your parent.” However, growing up means taking this farther and doing what is right, not because my parents say it is right, but because I know it is brings glory to God. Sadly, for me and, I think, many others, this is not always in the foreground of our minds, and either out of ignorance or blatant selfishness, we miss the heart of our lives as Christian young people. As godly youth, we are called to live a life unto God, which inevitably includes generating every decision, whether a daily life choice or a stand on a major issue, with the glory of God as its ultimate and fundamental purpose.
I have always been told to do everything to the glory of God, but what does this really mean? To give God the glory is to acknowledge in everything I do who God is and to act accordingly. God is glory. He alone deserves to be praised, worshipped, and honored. Not only did he create the universe intricately and orderly, but even now he upholds every aspect of his creation. Remembering his greatness in our daily life, I want to give him the honor he deserves. This implies not only that I agree with everything he states in his word, but also that I obey his every command. When an issue arises that is not specifically addressed in his word, I choose to do what will be the most pleasing to God and will bring out his essence the most clearly in my actions.
It is of utmost importance that I and all we young people understand this to be our calling in everything we do. 1 Corinthians 10:31 states, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” This verse implies that even the most menial tasks, such as eating, must be done to honor God. As young people we, myself included, often place actions into a “neutral” category, saying that it is neither glorifying to God nor sin. Things such as entertainment and use of the Sabbath are sometimes thrown into this category without much thought. Our calling, however, is to examine the matter to see if both sides are actually equally pleasing to God, or if we just say that to justify an ungodly choice.
I have heard several times, and sometimes catch myself thinking this as well, that it does not matter what we do during the sabbath as long as we go to church twice. This is not addressed specifically in scripture, but is this even an option when God commands that we “do all to the glory of God”? Can we really justify doing as little as possible to get to know our Creator and Redeemer on his very own day? Does living unto God really amount to going to church services and then convincing ourselves we do not have to do anything more? No matter how much we often want to persuade ourselves there is no right or wrong choice in situations like this one, we often see a clear right and wrong but are too selfish to admit it.
Another instance in which this excuse is sometimes used is in connection with listening to certain songs. Many popular songs played on the radio today are infused with worldly values and ungodly ideas. Yes, we may be able to tune out the bad lyrics, and yes, there are parts of these songs that are not so bad, but is that really the line of thinking we should follow? Instead of trying to prove why it is okay to listen to such songs, our focus should be on whether or not listening to them helps or hinders us from glorifying God.
The joy of being a child of God is that we can choose what is glorifying to God, no matter how difficult it often is. An unregenerate person can never choose to do the right. This is shown in question and answer 8 of the Heidelberg Catechism, which states: “Q. But are we so depraved that we are completely incapable of any good and prone to all evil? A. Yes, unless we are born again by the Spirit of God.” Even a work that seems good cannot be so because God has not given a reprobate a new heart to be able to do even a little bit of good. This is why it is such a shame when Christian liberty is so often wrongly used. We, as regenerate people of God, have the ability to do right, and often we do not want anything to do with it. Our liberty should be viewed not as a chance to get away with something wrong, but as the freedom to choose to do what is right, as only a remnant have this great freedom. This is true freedom, and it is the right use of this freedom that will bring God glory.
The purpose of this article is to reiterate what we should keep in mind as we go about making decisions every day. Our whole life and our every choice, must have as their goal the glory of God and must be focused on pleasing him. With the psalmist, let us say, “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory!” (Psalm 115: 1).