A widely quoted scripture, 1st Corinthians 10:31 tells us to do all that we do, whatever we do, to the glory of God. I want to take a moment to sit with that passage.
I’m finding this passage rising up again and again out of various sources. I guess I never realized how blunt this passage intends to be, by stating that we are designed to live lives of worship. By design, we are meant to give God glory for whatever good we are able to do, whatever good comes into our life, what makes us thankful, the moments we are lucky not to be forsaken. Worship is designed to be part of who we are. Like Matthew 3:9, God can raise even rocks to be children of Abraham and truly, his whole creation already praises him. But he designed humanity to be at the forefront of that. In the freewill and beloved status he made for us, he desires to give us even more intimacy with his own heart than the angels.
Given how we all act on our own devises, there is plenty of room for grace in that. To have humans placed ahead of everything else in creation certainly appeals to my ego, I don’t know about yours. Even with the callings God has put on us, the majority of us still don’t want him. He gave us the best portion, to be inherited along with his son after it was preserved by commandment throughout the entire new testament, flooded endless mercy, and has remained his constant self all throughout time to bring humanity into relationship with himself. There are probably more reasons that God does what he does than that, but just to consider that he would include that part and us with it is something to contend with.
If we live for his glory in all that we do perfectly, we have essentially become transformed into the almighty likeness of Christ. Becoming more like Christ doesn’t beget more rewards, because all are justified off of Christ’s image instead of his or her own. Santification is probably designed to be a reward in and of itself. By becoming more like God, you are living in a state of wholeness, of happiness, and of peace. What can anyone add to you that you do not already have? Money? You either have enough of that or due to reliance on God, it does not trouble you as much. Power? It is better that you remain small. Joy? What greater joy can be given that the joy that has been bought for us? In the power of grace, saints settle down as a seed in good soil.
What I’ve just described isn’t some premium subscription or fancy video game level, but a continuous process that by design ebbs and flows throughout all facets of our earthly existence, in our actions, in our word choice, in how we interact with others, and in what spirit we choose to give. We may all be spread out on a continuum or a scale for a variety of spiritual gifts, but I honestly believe that God examines whether we declare the name of his son Jesus Christ before he even notices the rest. I don’t like the idea of storing up gifts in heaven because sometimes people use that imagery to make it seem like by the time we get to heaven, we might be able to buy a heavenly Martha’s Vineyard. No. The same fruit of patience, of wisdom, of love, of compassion are what we experience here on earth. Perhaps we just store them in heaven? I don’t know.
It’s like people put it on a point system. “Give to the poor four times, and cash in a ephah of silver once you reach the pearly gates.” If Wisdom is building her house, is she really going to use something as cheap as silver? Spiritual gifts are more worthy than gold, which is why the Psalms are riddled with descriptions of them and greatly emphasis their value. As the pure payment for good which is not earned by us but loaned to us to increase in investment (Luke 19:11-27; the Parable of the Minas). For that reason, in the Parable of the Minas, the Servant who mistakes his Master’s spirit and calls him a cruel, ruthless man and buries his gift in the soil met such a grisly end. His coin was added to he who had made good spiritual investments, and eventually taken from him.
If you sow evil in your heart, spiritual gifts are inevitably taken from you. Not necessarily possessions, or status, or fame, but the joy and prosperity of peace that can only come from the Holy Spirit. Rejecting God’s call first of all separates you from the Spirit of Life but then makes you unlike God by abiding apart from him. God has infinite mercy, but many people shut him out indefinitely. I think maybe the reason that we are asked to want God genuinely and pursue him with our full hearts is that his way is narrow, hard, and oftentimes, hard to see. If we are faking it or professing faith false-heartedly, odds are, we wont bear up.
In my own perspective, we are given a couple different understandings of taking God’s glory from him. I think that one of the most important distinctions we make is whether we steal all of it (A Thief in the Night) or just part of it (Judas). One of the reasons Judas’s choices left him so thoroughly despised is that he had the opportunity to become like Jesus. He was right there, with the source of living water right before his eyes. He still rested on his sin and the temptations of his own corrupt devices. Jesus was literally sitting in the same room. He never made the commitment to God or sought Christ to purify his interests. He stole from the communal money bag, and when it wasn’t enough, he delivered even the Son of God up to the cleaners.
When deceit grows in a person’s heart and one operates out of a place that is lukewarm, you don’t just put on disobedience but you practice deception, which is blasphemy against the truth of the Holy Spirit. Stealing all of what God has is more like common thievery, while deceit has to take a very active amount of foresight. Premeditated murder in the eyes of US courts is a more severe charge than random, unplanned murder. I have no idea how God will judge, but it seems as though the more you have invested in doing wrong (not just your heart but your mind), the worse the punishment and corresponding depravity.
With God’s help through surrender, grace has the power to root out deceit in all areas of our life. To truly walk out a life of continuously worship requires being willing to surrender up the things that still haunt us and tempt us to put them in control. We progressively walk towards a life of pure worship, being purified into the likeness of Christ, but it is important to not forget that his grace justifies us instead of our actions. On our own devices, we will never reach him. We don’t evolve. There is no reincarnation here. Just humility, the true way, and the undeserved right to try. If we believe in Christ and God renders us worthy, then we will see more of the same gifts we are given under the Holy Spirit. If not, death is the finish line of no more second chances. Only through the Spirit of Jesus and his presence are we allowed to become sons and daughters of God. Even if we give to the poor and become externally as Mother Theresa, there is only one true way.