What is God up to in my life?[1]

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By Spencer D Gear

I Corinthians 10:31

In the hustle and bustle of your life, do you ever stop to ask questions like these when:a

  • relative dies;
  • a child breaks an arm;
  • bills seem to be more than income;
  • I lose my job;
  • I am in conflict with my wife, children, the boss, or workmates;
  • there is sickness in your family;
  • life comes crashing down around me;
  • I have thoughts of suicide;

Have you ever asked: “What is God up to in my life?”

I had a 14-year-old say to me in counselling recently, “School sucks, Dad sucks, life sucks.”

What am I here for?

Does God simply want my happiness?

When the chips are down and life seems to be splitting apart at the seems, is there any reason for living?

For the believer, does God have a direction for my life?

What is God’s purpose for you?

I was thinking like this recently when God brought two verses to my attention:

The first:

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed,

do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,

giving thinks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17);

The second:

“So[2] whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (I Cor. 10:31).

A. What is Paul talking about?

“Therefore, also connects it to the previous verses, in fact to chapters 8-10 in I Corinthians.

Paul had been teaching them about things that are not essential to be picky about in the Christian life. The issue was buying meat in the meat markets. Meat that had been offered as a sacrifice in the heathen temples was often taken to the meat markets for sale.

Paul’s view was that, if it is good meat to eat, it is still good meat even though offered to idols. After all, the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. God made the meat. You’re hungry. Go ahead, buy the meat and eat it.

A good, godly man has FREEDOM to go where he pleases, to eat what he wants, to dress as he sees appropriate, because a good man will always be driven by a godly motive.

I Cor. 10: 25 makes it clear, “Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, ‘The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.'” That’s based on Ps. 24:1.

Believers, you have LOTS OF FREEDOM to do all these things — UNLESS, UNLESS — the other [person’s] conscience, especially the unbeliever’s, is going to be hindered (see v. 29).

If a person reminds you that this food, dress, whatever you do, is part of secular, pagan, non-Christian culture that you would be promoting if you used that food, that clothing, whatever. If that is the case, DO NOT DO IT for his sake and your conscience’s sake.

Paul says, in effect, you godly people, motivated by godly goals, have freedom to eat, drink, dress, go places and do things that you want. You have FREEDOM in Christ. But don’t you EVER do anything that will cause offence to the unbeliever and hinder his coming to Christ. Don’t ever do anything that will hinder a new believer.

You will NOT praise and glorify God if your actions cause ANYONE inside or outside the church to doubt the moral integrity of the gospel.

The general principle is in v. 24, “Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.

Imagine what would happen in our families, at work, in the church, our relations with neighbours, if this drove our lifestyle: “I WILL NEVER EVER seek my own good, but only the good of other people — my spouse, my neighbours, my kids, other people in the church, my boss.

When your boy comes to you and asks you to play with him after a hard day at work, IF you wanted to do what was good and best for YOUR BOY, what would you do?

Imagine what would happen in your marriage relationship IF you only thought to do what would benefit your wife. I know many Christian wives would almost drop dead;

If you turned up for work on Monday and said to your boss, help me to do things better so that your business will prosper. I want your business to succeed. Show me how I can help you to offer a better service to the public. Boss, I want you to hold me accountable so that I can do a SUPERB job for you.

If Christian children in the primary school class room or high school class room, took the attitude, I am here to learn. I want to make the job easier for my teacher. I will do all I can to help my classmates behave in class. I will set the example.

I’ll ask my teacher what I can do in the class to make teaching a pleasure. The teacher might be shocked, but what a marvellous testimony it would be to the teacher and the school.

I can guarantee you that that action would get around the staff room in a flash.

Imagine what would happen if you, a Christian teacher, treated all students with respect as people made in the image of God and precious. If the put downs and abrupt language were gone. If you treated your enemies in the classroom as you would have them treat you, what would happen?

I would be out of a job as a youth counsellor if children only sought to do good to others, especially to their parents, brothers and sisters, school students and teachers. My counselling service would close down if we treated one another like this.

What would happen if ALL of you men, from today, said I will seek the good of OTHER people in this church? Do you think it might start a revolution if you decided: From today, I will seek the good of my pastor, his wife and family? I will NEVER seek to do him harm.

I will ask him how I can make life easier for him. I want to direct

ALL of my life so that it is OTHER-CENTRED. I will only seek and do what is good for my pastor, his family and other people. I will ask him to help train me in winning other people Christ. I want this church to grow through evangelism growth. I want only to do the church leaders good.

We need to move from the specifics of Corinth to the specific examples in this city for you.

B. From Corinth (specifics – eating and drinking) to the city where I live.

From FREEDOM in eating and drinking, Paul now moves to the general principle that should dominate your life and mine. This should motivate us for life. It is the purpose or goal that should drive your life: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (I Cor. 10:31).

WHATEVER YOU DO, EVERYTHING IN THE CHRISTIAN’S LIFE, should be done “for the glory of God.”

For the believer, that means there is no such thing as: this is SECULAR WORK and that is CHRISTIAN WORK. All of life is Christian that must be lived for the glory of God. My working for the non-Christian or Christian boss is sacred; my going to a state school is Christian work; it doesn’t matter whether I am a pastor or a garbage collector. ALL OF LIFE IS TO BE DONE “TO THE GLORY OF GOD.”

C. But what does it mean to do things “to the glory of God”?

That’s pretty theological sounding stuff. Sounds a bit lofty.

Matt. 5:16 says, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (NASB). The NIV reads, “and praise your Father in heaven.”

In the NT, the Greek word, doxa (glory) conveys the meaning of brightness, splendour, radiance, magnificence, fame, renown, honour.[3]

“Here we find glory attributed to Jesus Christ, just as it was to God in the Old Testament. Jesus prayed that the Father would glorify him as he had glorified the Father (John 17:1-5). It is especially in the resurrection of Christ that we see his glory.”[4]

“The glory of God” is to promote, point to, advertise the magnificence of God.[5]

We see this greatness of God in terms of his power. He spoke this world into existence; he raised Jesus from the dead. He still performs miracles. He redeems the proud, drug addicts; changes adulterers into children of God. Homosexuals who bow the knee to him are changed from the inside out.

The glory of God includes his greatness of knowledge. He is ALL knowing. He knows your thoughts (Luke 5:22; 6:8). He knows you so well that even the hairs on your head are numbered. For many of us they get less every day. But he knows us that intimately. He knows when a sparrow falls.

But God’s glory also includes the moral attributes of God. God always does what is RIGHT; he NEVER does anything WRONG.

God is absolute holiness; he is total love; his mercies are beyond our imagination. He will NEVER let you down. He is absolutely faithful and trustworthy. Nobody will get away with sin and wrong. God’s justice is absolute.

The “glory of God” amounts to the “sum of his attributes and powers as he reveals them in bringing his saints to their ultimate happiness in the enjoyment of himself.”[6]

Is your life promoting God’s glory as far as the magnificence of God is concerned? Do you uplift God in all that you say and do? That’s a high calling, but God wouldn’t require it of us if it were not possible.

In everything that you do, do you honour God? Do your thoughts and actions show up God’s magnificence? Whether drying the dishes, raising a family, pushing a pen (more likely to be a computer these days) for the government, working at the local hardware store, somebody serving you at MacDonald’s — your life is to bring glory to God.

D. Let’s get very practical

1. If people watch you at work, in the home, when you go to watch your kids play sport, anywhere. If people were to peep in on you and what you say to your wife, how you treat her as a sexual person, how you discipline your children, would they be attracted to your God. Would they glorify the living God by looking at your life?

This is an awesome responsibility. But that’s what God calls us to

do in everything. Our lives have to be a lighthouse, drawing people to God. Before I open my mouth, before I do that thing, I do need to ask, “WWJD –What would Jesus do?”

2. Is your life in ALL aspects, pointing to the brightness, splendor, radiance, magnificence, fame, renown and honor of Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Discipleship within the Body of Christ is meant to hold us accountable for how we live in honour of the King of Kings.

3. Too often our cell groups degenerate into, “What do you think this verse means?” when they should be calling you and me to accountability. Spencer, what did you do this week that did NOT draw attention to the magnificence of your Saviour? How can we as a body of believers help you in making your life and advertisement of God’s radiance and renown?

I noticed that you spoke harshly to Joe when you got angry with him over his being late to the committee meeting. Was that uplifting Jesus, praising him, glorifying him?

E. Parenting & men

Dr Graeme Russell of Macquarie University, Sydney, published a report[7] that found that the mean (middle) number of hours per week that fathers took complete care of their children was 2.8 hours (or, 24 minutes a day). However, 60% of fathers interviewed were not spending any time taking complete care of their children.. The figures for the USA are similar.

Men, in what you are doing as a father, are you giving glory to God? Are you promoting God’s greatness in the way you treat your children?

I read a letter written by a runaway son. It said,

Dear Mum and Dad,

Thank you for everything, but I am going to [Sydney][8] to try to start some kind of new life.

You asked me why I did those things and why I gave you so much trouble, and the answer is easy for me to give you, but I am wondering if you will understand.

Remember when I was about six or seven and I used to want you to just listen to me? I remember all the nice things you gave me for Christmas and my birthday and I was really happy with the things for about a week at the time I got the things, but the rest of the time during the year I really didn’t want presents. I just wanted all the time for you to listen to me like I was somebody who felt things too, because I remember even when I was young I felt things. But you said you were busy.

Mum, you are a wonderful cook, and you have everything so clean and you were tired so much from doing all those things that made you busy; but you know something, Mum? I would have liked [fresh bread and vegemite][9] just as [much][10] if you had only sat down with me a while during the day and said to me, >Tell me all about it so I can maybe help you. . .

I think that all the kids who are doing so many things that grownups are tearing out their hair worrying about, are really looking for somebody [who] will have time to listen a few minutes and who will really treat them as they would a grown up who might be useful to them, you know B polite to them. If you . . . had ever said to me, “Excuse me,” when you interrupted me, I’d have dropped dead.

If anybody asks you where I am, tell them I’ve gone looking for somebody with time because I’ve got a lot of things I want to talk about.

Love to all,

Your son.[11]

Men, are you glorifying God as a parent in your family? How about arranging time with your children, one by one. Ask them to tell you about their day and you had better be an attentive listener. Ask them what they would like you to do with them.

I heard of a little girl who followed for father as he carefully stepped through a new garden. She stepped exactly where he stepped and she said to him, Daddy, if you don=t get mud on your feet, I won’t get any mud on me.[12]

Dad, will your children get mud on their feet? Fathers, wear shoes you want to be filled.

Men, God knows your thoughts and actions. What would God’s estimate be of your family life? Are you giving glory to God in how you live and lead the family.

F. Responsibility as spiritual leaders in the home

Men, what view of God and the world does your family see from you? I haven’t time to develop this much, but God expects men to lead the family spiritually and practically.

Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Eph.5:25); As Christ loved the church. How much did he love the church? So much that he died for her!

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4).

Whose role is it to take the lead in the training and instruction of the Lord in your family? Eph. 6:4 says, Fathers. Men, are you glorifying God in your responsibilities as a spiritual leader in the home?

Men, too often we think this is the wife’s primary role. Not so as far as God is concerned.

The role of decay in any society will be seen in the attitude and action of spiritual leadership and what happens to the family.

Down through the years, some assessments have been made of what caused the great Grecian Empire to crumble. Why did the Roman Empire fall? These are some of the elements:

G.  The Common Pattern of Decline in Many Nations

1. Men ceased to lead their families in worship.

2. Men selfishly neglected care of their wives and children to pursue material wealth, political and military power, and cultural development.

3. Men, being preoccupied with business or war, either neglected their wives sexually or became involved with other women or with homosexuality, and a double standard of morality developed.

4. The role of women at home and with children lost value and status.

5. Husbands and wives competed against each other for money, home leadership, and the affection of their children, resulting in hostility and frustration and possible homosexuality in the children.

6. Selfish individualism grew and was carried over into society.

7. As unbelief in God became more complete and parental authority diminished, ethical and moral principles disappeared, affecting the economy and government.[13]

This chain of events began by the men turning from God to pursue material wealth, and each successive step occurred automatically. The domino effect. That’s where Australia is going today. It will take Christian men like you to help turn the tide.

Two factors will contribute to where your family goes and where Australia will end up:

First, when you turn away from God, the slide begins. Read Romans ch. 1, The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness (v. 18);

Second, What the family is, such will society be.[14]

H.  Aware of their responsibility as men

God views the relationship between the husband and his wife as a picture of Christ and the church. How awesome! Your Christian marriage will either exalt the love relationship between Christ and his church or it will be a denial of it.

Base your marriage on God’s Word and he will pour out his blessing on it.

Right now I’m thinking of the father whose family was grown up and the kids were all gone. He said,

If I could do it all over again, this is what I would do:

I would love my wife more in front of my children.

I would laugh with my children more–at our mistakes and our joys.

I would listen more–even to the youngest child.

I would be more honest about my own weaknesses and stop pretending perfection.

I would pray differently for my family. Instead of focussing on them I would focus more on me.

I would do more things with my children.

I would do more encouraging–and bestow more praise.

I would pay more attention to little things, deeds, and words of love and kindness. Finally, if I had to do it all over again, I would share God more intimately with my family. I would use every ordinary thing that happened in every ordinary day to point them to God.[15]

There’s a desperate need for Christian men to share with other Christian men how to be better husbands. Let’s join forces and build Christian marriages that can withstand the assaults of an antagonistic culture. Build marriages that shout to a seeking world that Jesus is the Redeemer of his people–including marriages. Wives who submit to their husbands, and husbands who love their wives as Christ loved the church. Fathers who don’t exasperate their children. Wives who submit to their husbands.


I. Priority of worship instead of fishing

If you woke up to a beautiful sunny day on Sunday and you faced this: The water on the Bay was calm and the whiting were biting, where would you rather be: out fishing or meeting with the people of God? If you choose fishing over God, what message does that send to your children, neighbours and the people of God?

J. My struggles

These are some of my struggles when it comes to glorifying God in all that I do:

  • eating. I just love sweet things. They are not good for me and my heart condition. How can I glorify God and draw attention to his marvellous Self when I do NOT control my intake?
  • working with secular people in counselling and moving them towards considering ultimate issues, particularly their relationship with God;
  • When I come to a quick assessment of an issue, it can be crystal clear to me. Why can’t others see it? I can be abrupt in the way I speak;
  • Why can’t people get fair dinkum with God instead of playing around with him?
  • My patience is stretched when I see an epidemic of drug abuse and yet there are people, community leaders, politicians, media personalities who accept or promote illicit drug use.
  • I want to speak forthrightly in exposing injustices and unrighteousness in our society, but I want to continue to love such people who are sinning their way to hell. How can I stand up for Jesus, confront sin, and bring glory to God?
  • I want to give God glory in my sharing Christ with as many people as possible. The busyness of my life can stop those opportunities. No matter how much success a person achieves in this life, if they are lost for eternity they are BIG LOSERS. I must proclaim Christ while God gives me breath. Lord, I want to do it to your glory.


[1] This message was preached for a men’s breakfast at Redlands Alliance Church (greater Brisbane area, Qld., Australia), 6 June 1999.

[2] Greek, oun, is better translated as, “Therefore.”

[3]William F. Arndt & F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature (translation and adaptation of Walter Bauer). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1957, 202-203.

[4]Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1985, 998.

[5]The following is suggested by Erickson, 266ff.

[6]J.I. Packer, Laid-Back Religion: A penetrating look at Christianity today. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1987, 25.

[7]It was in 1979.

[8]The original said, Chicago.@

[9]The original said, crackers and peanut butter.@

[10] The original said, “well.”

[11] This was a letter from a young boy, printed in a midwestern [USA] newspaper several years ago. It was sent to the editor by his parents, with hopes it would help other parents avoid the mistakes they had made.

[12]Green, 147.

[13]In Carl Wilson, Our Dance Has Turned to Death. Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, pp. 84-85.

[14]The famous Harvard sociologist, Pitirim Sorokin, wrote this back in 1956 and is quoted in Wilson.

[15]In John MacArthur, Jr., The Family. Chicago: Moody Press, 1982, p. 104.


Copyright © 2009 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 28 January 2018