‘Ye are not your own … For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit’ (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
There must be few verses of Scripture which link such a profound statement with such a stark challenge. Who would be so bold as to claim continual success in obeying this command to glorify God? Is not the experience of the believer one of continual conflict between ‘flesh’ and ‘Spirit’? Although we are told that we are not our own, our carnal instincts revolt at the very implications of that assertion.
Yet we are also told just how we can glorify God. Scripture promises that if we ‘walk in the Spirit we shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh’ (Galatians 5:16-17). And we are told why we can and should glorify God. God will not share his glory with another (Isaiah 42:8) and believers belong to him. They are his, not only by creation but by redemption, for ‘ye are bought with a price.’ The cost was the precious blood of Christ: we belong to the Lord. While the world around us promotes its message of self-worth and self-assertion, true believers are quietly to glorify their Redeemer, who has purchased them for himself.
To glorify God involves not only spiritual activity, in prayer and worship, but also activities of the body. Through Christ, God has bought the whole man – ‘ye are bought’ – and it is the whole man which is to glorify him. Just as the body operates in the realms of the ‘material’ and ‘practical’, so in those very areas we can do everything as ‘unto the Lord’ (Colossians 3:23). Consequently, even the most mundane activities of the most ordinary believer are elevated and dignified.
The key, then, to assessing whether or not we glorify God is not our activity, which everyone can observe, but our motivation, which God alone scrutinizes. That means the Christian remembers whose he is and why.