Question: I know it’s biblical to be your best to glorify God and give Him a good image, however when do we take it too far? I’ve noticed that there might be a bit too much concern about what others think about our downfalls or things we struggle with and our less than perfect actions. It leads to embarrassment and criticism. I’m thinking at this point maybe we need to care a little less about what others think and more about each other, giving grace, encouragement and loving each other through the imperfections and sins we struggle with.
1 Corinthians 6:20 (NASB)
For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
I find it helpful when we see a problem to ask the right questions. I have found there are a lot of things that Christians fight about, often times fighting the wrong thing. Spouses fight each other on their failures when the fight they should be fighting is to love each other when it’s tough. People fight abortion when we should be advocating for and living morally. People will fight a preacher for an area they missed something rather than fighting to support them in what they are doing right. People love to fight!
The problem here that you are seeing is not in glorifying God. The scripture clearly tells us that this is our purpose. If it is our purpose, it should also be our goal. Here is the issue however, the things asked in this question is not what glorifying God is about. Being imperfect is not the opposite of glorifying God. He made us with that capacity. What does it mean to glorify Him?
Jesus said in Matthew 9:13, “I desire compassion not sacrifice.” Compassion glorifies God. In Matthew 22:37-39 He said that the greatest commandment was to love God with all your heart and all your soul, and all your mind and to love your neighbor as yourself. True love, love for God and people glorifies God. In John 15:8 Jesus said, “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” Bearing much fruit unto God glorifies Him.
In none of these things did Jesus ever claim that perfection glorifies Him. What Jesus was talking about is living a life over all that brings glory to God. In the context of the scripture we started with in 1 Corinthians 6:20, the instruction was in living a moral life, again not being perfect. The heart behind what Paul was saying to the Corinthians was that if we live sinfully we are not glorifying God in our bodies. This is referring to a lifestyle of claiming to belong to God but then purposely living like the devil.
We need to be extremely careful about being critical. There is a big difference between critical thinking and being critical. Being a critical thinker, I may look at something and recognize that it doesn’t bear much or good fruit. I may see something I’m doing as a lot of effort yet with little payout. We do this (or should) all the time in our lives. Recently, while riding in a taxi, I was blessed that driver took a shortcut to avoid a traffic jam. The meter was running and it can get costly if you’re just sitting in one spot. Him deciding to take an alternate route was critical thinking. Being critical attacks the person, their motives, and their heart. This can be a major problem.
Recently, someone I know did something that I felt was rather worthless. Truth be told it actually was. Recognizing in my mind that something was not super fruitful, was not necessarily wrong. But I didn’t just leave it as a thought, I embraced it as a meditation. I found myself being quite critical of this action. Then when I was closing a service out, the Holy Spirit revealed a truth to my heart. If I could sum it up, this is the way it came across to me, “Why are you judging My servant, they are learning to follow Me! What’s it to you how they learn to do that?” I repented instantly and in front of my church for that. See, though the action that this person took wasn’t very fruitful, learning obedience to what God was speaking to their heart was! I was quite embarrassed!
The point that I am trying to make is that we need to distinguish what glorifying God really means. Glorifying God is not as much an action as it is a lifestyle of actions and the heart behind them. Imperfections in the home, in the church, on the job, or in life in general are unavoidable. We shouldn’t be so hung up on them. What are we trying to accomplish over all, that’s what truly matters. I have learned that God is far more pleased in our willingness and attempt to follow Him than He is in our being perfect in every step.
Don’t pull back from glorifying God, just settle in your heart what it really means. We were made to do this so in doing so we will always find His peace and His joy. God is perfect and Him alone. We don’t need a place of perfection, just the one Who sits in it!