“Do All Things for God’s Glory”
Highlights From First Corinthians
JEHOVAH GOD’S glory is of vital concern to all who worship him “with spirit and truth.” (John 4:23, 24) Hence, the apostle Paul told fellow Christians in ancient Corinth: “Whether you are eating or drinking or doing anything else, do all things for God’s glory.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) Doing this requires that we accept Jehovah’s way of resolving our problems in this materialistic, immoral world steeped in false religion.
Corinthian Christians needed divine help to resolve problems, for they lived in a prosperous, immoral city full of false religion. Located on an isthmus between continental Greece and the Peloponnisos, Corinth was the capital of the Roman province of Achaia and had an estimated population of 400,000. Paul founded the congregation there in about 50 C.E.—Acts 18:1-11.
The Corinthians had written to Paul asking about marriage and the eating of meat that had been offered to idols. (7:1) He was distressed because divisions and a case of gross immorality existed in their midst. They needed advice on the proper way to observe the Lord’s Evening Meal. There was even the threat of apostasy, and the congregation needed counsel on love. For such reasons, Paul wrote his first inspired letter to the Corinthians from Ephesus in about 55 C.E. But we too can benefit from it.
Unity and Moral Cleanness Vital
If we “do all things for God’s glory,” we will not follow anyone seeking to cause division in the congregation—one of the problems faced by the Corinthians. (1:1–4:21) Paul exhorted them to ‘speak in agreement and be united in the same mind and in the same line of thought.’ Unity will exist if we follow this counsel and cultivate spiritual qualities. Instead of boasting in any sinful human, we should remember that though we ‘plant and water, God makes it grow’ spiritually. Boastful ones in Corinth had nothing that they did not receive; so let us never consider ourselves better than fellow believers. Such a humble spirit will help us to promote unity.
If unity is to prevail, appointed elders must act to keep the congregation clean spiritually. (5:1–6:20) Since “a little leaven ferments the whole lump,” unrepentant fornicators, greedy persons, idolaters, revilers, drunkards, or extortioners must be disfellowshipped. Moral uncleanness, which defiles God’s temple, must not be tolerated among Jehovah’s people. Instead, they must do things that glorify God.
Be Considerate of Others
To “do all things for God’s glory,” we need to apply Paul’s counsel on marriage and singleness. (7:1-40) Those united in wedlock are to render the sexual due with consideration. A married Christian should not separate from an unbelieving mate, for staying together may help that one gain salvation. While marriage brings increased anxiety, singleness can benefit a person desiring to help others spiritually by serving the Lord without distraction.
Showing consideration for the spiritual welfare of others is the duty of all Christians, whether single or married. (8:1–10:33) Hence, the Corinthians were counseled not to stumble others by eating foods that were offered to idols. To avoid hindering any from accepting the good news, Paul did not even exercise his right to receive material assistance. He also ‘pummeled his body so that after preaching to others, he might not become disapproved.’ Taking to heart the wilderness experiences of sinful Israel will help us to avoid idolatry and wrongdoing. Moreover, ‘doing all things for God’s glory’ will help us to avoid stumbling anyone.
Show Respect and Maintain Order
‘Doing all things for God’s glory’ requires that we show proper respect. (11:1-34) A first-century Christian woman showed respect for headship by wearing a head covering when praying or prophesying in the congregation. Similar respect for headship is shown by godly women today. Moreover, to avoid becoming like the Corinthians who needed correction, all of us must show respect for the Lord’s Evening Meal.
To “do all things for God’s glory,” we must conduct meetings in an orderly way. (12:1–14:40) When early Christians met, such gifts of the spirit as speaking in tongues were to be used with respect and appreciation for their source and purpose. Though we do not now have these gifts, we bring glory to God by displaying love, which surpasses them. We also glorify Jehovah because our meetings are well organized, and we respectfully apply Paul’s counsel: “Let all things take place decently and by arrangement.”
‘Doing all things for God’s glory’ calls upon us to respect Bible doctrine and stand firm spiritually. (15:1–16:24) Possibly influenced by Greek philosophy, some in the Corinth congregation said: “There is no resurrection of the dead.” (Compare Acts 17:18, 32.) They may have held the apostate view that there would be no future resurrection but that living Christians had experienced a symbolic, spiritual one. (2 Timothy 2:16-18) Paul supported the true hope by citing Jesus’ resurrection and also showed that anointed Christians must die in order to be raised to immortal heavenly life. In other ways too, his words help us to avoid apostasy and “stand firm in the faith.”
Always Do Things for God’s Glory
Paul’s counsel in First Corinthians is as beneficial today as it was in the first century C.E. It moves present-day Witnesses of Jehovah to serve God in unity as a clean people. The apostle’s words should motivate us to be considerate of others and show proper respect. What Paul said can also strengthen us to resist apostasy and stand firm for the true faith.
Surely, it is the heartfelt desire of every faithful servant of Jehovah to bless him, announce his Kingdom, and glorify his holy name. (Psalm 145:1, 2, 10-13) In fact, Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians helps us to “do all things for God’s glory.”
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SURE TO DIE: More than once in his letters to the Corinthians, Paul alluded to death in the arena. For instance, he wrote: “It seems to me that God has put us the apostles last on exhibition as men appointed to death, because we have become a theatrical spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men.” (1 Corinthians 4:9) Paul may have been thinking about exhibitions of bestiarii (men who fought beasts) and gladiators (men who fought men). Some fought for wages, but criminals were compelled to fight. Allowed to use weapons at first, later these prisoners were brought out unclad, defenseless, and sure to die.
With “angels” and “men” (not just “the world” of mankind) as spectators, the apostles were like those about to die in such a final gory spectacle. Paul said he “fought with wild beasts at Ephesus,” but some doubt that a Roman citizen would have been subjected to this and say that he alluded to beastlike opposers. (1 Corinthians 15:32) Yet, Paul’s statement that God rescued him “from such a great thing as death” in the district of Asia (where Ephesus was located) fits an experience with real wild beasts in an arena better than it does human opposition.—2 Corinthians 1:8-10; 11:23; Acts 19:23-41.
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KEEP THE PRIZE IN VIEW: Paul used features of ancient Greek games to illustrate vital points. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27) In such contests as the Isthmian Games held every two years near Corinth, the program was made up of running, boxing, and other events. While preparing for these contests, runners and boxers were to exercise self-restraint, live on a healthfully lean diet, and drink no wine for ten months. Instead of the perishable pine or ivy wreath bestowed upon winners of the Isthmian Games, however, an anointed Christian strives for the incorruptible crown of immortal life. To win that prize, he must keep his eyes fixed on it and exercise self-control. The same principle applies to Jehovah’s Witnesses who have eternal earthly life in view.