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Do It All for the Glory of God February 12, 2012

Posted by sandhandrews in Sermons.
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1 Corinthians 10:31-1:1

Epiphany 6

February 11-12, 2012

Focus: God gave up everything He had (think Jesus) for us.

Function: That the hearers “give up themselves” for the rest of God’s creation.

Structure: This is the problem…this is the response of the gospel…these are the implications.

Do it All for the Glory of God

            Among Christian churches, Lutherans have it all.  We have the fullness and purity of God’s wondrous gospel.  And, we don’t worry about the law.  Well, at least it sure can seem that way sometimes in Lutheran circles.  Paul even said it himself in last week’s epistle: “To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law.”

Christian liberty, the freedom that we have from sin is a gift from God through His Son Jesus Christ.  However, for us to act as though we don’t have any law to follow would also go against the word of Scripture.  As James put it, faith without works is dead.  And as Paul finished his sentence last week, he’s not outside of the law of God, but under the law of Christ.

This law is a different sense of the word.  We see it everywhere in the language of God’s Word.  We’ve been set free from slavery to sin.  But in so doing, we’ve been made slaves to Christ.  Jesus bought us at a price.  We are His.  And in becoming His, we’ve been transformed.  Our lives have been renewed, regenerated, redeemed at the font at the time of our baptisms.  So this slavery, this law that we now face, isn’t your typical meaning.  Instead, we are His righteous, holy people, transformed and empowered to a life of service, both to God and to our neighbor.

This is the point that Paul has been hammering home over the last several chapters of his letter to Corinth.  He constantly flips metaphors, images, words, and illustrations to help them understand what he’s trying to get across.  Having already dealt with being united as God’s people and tackling several topics of sin in their midst, Paul shifts gears to tell them how they should be living.

In chapter 8, Paul uses the example of meat sacrificed to idols.  Pastor preached on this a couple of weeks ago, and how Paul would abstain from eating the meat, preferring to never eat meat again, if eating that meat meant hurting the faith of his brother.  That example was in reference to taking care of someone of weaker faith.

In chapter 9, Paul lays out the sacrifices that he’s made to share the gospel.  He doesn’t claim his rights.  He doesn’t accept pay from them so that the gospel can reach even more ears.  He does his best to learn about other groups, Jews, Gentiles, law followers, whoever it might be.  And he meets the people where they are.  Through him, the Holy Spirit then works in their lives.

And in chapter 10, he urges his brothers and sisters against this lawlessness.  He pleads with them to avoid immorality.  He cites our forefathers in the days of their wandering in the wilderness.  He demonstrates their unity, that they were one under the cloud, in baptism, and that they all drank the same spiritual drink.  Yet, he warned them that they had failed to please God.  The immoral died; those who tested Christ were bitten by serpents.  And those who grumbled against God met the Destroyer.

So Paul pleaded with them, you cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons, too.  You can’t follow both Jesus and Satan.  God and sin don’t mix.  And so he rephrases an earlier argument.  Before, he brought up their common phrase “everything is permissible for me,” as an argument against their sexual sins; but, here he takes that same phrase and twists it a slightly different way: “everything is permissible, but not everything is helpful.  Everything is permissible, but not everything builds up.”

So rather than using their Christian liberty to go out and do whatever they want, Paul redirects their newfound freedom.  They’re to build one another up.  He says it again: “let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.”  Don’t cause others to stumble.  Don’t live for your own pleasure, but for the good of many.  Live your life for others.

It’s something we teach correctly to our kids through that cute little acronym: JOY.  Jesus, Others, Yourself.  As Christians, we live a life of service to God.  He is first and foremost.  Our relationship with our Father is above all else.  We shall have no other gods before Him.  And we aren’t next on that totem pole, but everyone around us.  As Christians, we live our lives in service to one another.   We live as Christ said, as the salt of the earth, the light of the world.  To other Christians, we’re a means of building each other up.  We support each other, encourage one another, and live together in love and peace.  And to those who don’t know Christ, we do just the same.  We love, we support, we encourage, and we build up.

Luther knew this subject very well.  He called it vocation; and you’d be hard pressed to find a theologian throughout history who could articulate it better than him.  God has richly blessed us and given us the opportunity to live each and every day.  And part of those blessings that He gives is that He chooses to work through us in this world.  We are His means.

God works through us where we are.  As a parent, you have a role to play in your child’s life.  Children are to obey their parents, and to act like children.  Students, study hard and do what’s asked of you.  Doctors, have compassion wherever you can and heal whomever you can.  Judges, rule justly.  Soldiers, defend your country with pride and honor.  Teachers, love and encourage your children every day.  A German shoemaker once asked Luther how he could best serve God.  Luther’s response was simple: make a good shoe and sell it at a reasonable price.

It’s just as Paul said, “whether you eat or you drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  We do that through that little acronym.  When we keep God first in our lives, and think of others before ourselves, it glorifies God.

As a husband, it’s my job to love and honor my wife at all times, to protect her, and to cherish her.  As a brother and a son, it’s my responsibility to pray for and encourage my family, to keep the relationships strong.  I don’t always do these things as well as I should, and perhaps you feel the same way about yourself.  Thankfully, as Pastor pronounced earlier, our sins are forgiven by God.

We don’t have to be a superhero.  We can’t all be Tim Tebow in our vocations, drawing immense amounts of attention to God’s name.  It’s certainly not my vocation to play professional football.  But that’s not the burden God has given to each of us.  He has made us each to be unique and works through us all differently, each in our own time and in our own place.

And it’s to this that Paul calls us today.  Having just given several examples of how he lives for others, Paul calls on us to follow his example.  And as though he hasn’t already justified his position enough, he ties it in to Christ.  “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”

Jesus didn’t live for Himself.  His entire ministry was geared towards the people.  He walked with them, talked with them, ate with them and built a number of relationships.  He taught, He preached, He encouraged. He showed hard love when it was necessary.  He demonstrated forgiveness and love in their fullness.  He also did miracles, healed, and baptized.

God certainly didn’t send His Son to die for Himself, but because of His love and care for us as His children.  Jesus didn’t go to the cross, to death, and rise again on the third day just for Himself.  He lived and died and rose, so that we too might live and should we meet death in this world, also rise.  Jesus came to save us, to love us, to forgive us.

In following Paul’s example, we are God’s creation, created in Him to care for those around us.  As Christ loved us, so we love others.  As Christ forgave us, so we forgive others.  As Christ sacrificed the pleasures and riches of the world for us, so we put our neighbor’s needs before our own.  We are free from sin.  We are free because of what Christ did for us.  And so we live both under the law of Christ, doing the things that need to be done, and under the gospel of Christ, basking in God’s glory as His beloved children.

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