How Can “Ordinary” People Live to the Glory of God?

God’s ultimate goal is his own glory. Everything that he does is done to this end: the praise of his own name. This includes both showing mercy to undeserving sinners and disciplining his wandering people. One passage that makes this abundantly clear is Isaiah 48:9-11…

[9] “For my name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. [10] Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. [11] For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.

Since God is jealous for his own glory (glory he rightly deserves, I might add), it stands to reason that the goal of man is to glorify God. That’s what our purpose in life is. It is what makes God happy, and it is what will ultimately satisfy the human heart, since we were created for this purpose. The fact that we are called to glorify God in all that we do is plain in Scripture, such as in 1 Corinthians 10:31…

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

What is interesting to me is that the two actions mentioned here – eating and drinking – are not exactly considered to be common acts of worship. Rather, they are ordinary, daily activities. This means that there is a way to live that not only uses our “typical” religious actions to glorify God, but also our plain, simple, mundane tasks as well. How do we live all life to the glory of God?

Let’s consider an example. Rather than examining the life of a pastor, missionary, or otherwise widely-considered-to-be-religious person, let us consider the example of an “ordinary” profession. For no particular reason, let’s use a mechanic. (To be clear, I’m in no way demeaning mechanics. What they do is important and can be God-glorifying!)

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Meet Joe. Joe became a Christian at age 20 in college through the influence of a friend. Now 35, he has a wife and two children, and works as a mechanic at a shop in town.

Every morning, Joe’s alarm goes off at 6:30am. He gets up, makes coffee and breakfast, and sits down at the kitchen table to read his Bible. He’s attempting to read through the New Testament this year (he’s a bit behind on his plan) and jots down notes in a notebook as he reads – things like what stood out to him, questions to look into later, and things to pray about. Afterwards, he takes time to pray for himself, his family, and his day. He also prays for one or two names from his journal, if he has the time.

By now, Joe’s family is getting up and ready for school. Joe likes to pack the kids’ lunches before kissing his wife goodbye and heading off for work (in the winter, he brushes off his wife’s car for when she heads out later). Arriving 10 minutes early for work, Joe gets the coffee pot going for the crew and helps open up the shop. He is known by other employees as a hard-working guy who is diligent and friendly. He tries to be honest with customers about the issues with their vehicles and doesn’t exaggerate what parts are due for replacement. Every Christmas, he makes sure to give his boss’ family a small gift as an act of gratitude.

After a hard day’s work, Joe heads home for supper. He showers and sits down with the family. Though it doesn’t always go well, Joe tries to get the family sharing about their day. Before everyone breaks to go their own way, Joe has his wife read out of a family devotional book (she’s a better out-loud reader than he is) and leads family prayer. He and the kids help afterwards with the dishes.

In the evening, Joe will do a few things around the house, help the kids with their homework, watch some TV, check email, or take the kids to their sport events, depending on the evening. He and his wife take turns each day tucking in their 7 year old at night, and he always makes sure to tell his 13-year-old that he loves her when she heads to bed. Joe and his wife try to spend a few minutes each night before bed connecting and praying together. Occasionally, he’ll give her a back massage before kissing her goodnight.

On the weekends, Joe likes to take the family camping and go on outings. He also works hard to keep up the yard and work on their house (a fixer-upper with some potential). Usually he’ll mow the lawn next door, which belongs to an elderly widow. On Sunday morning, he rouses the troops and heads off to church. He makes sure to grab his offering on the way out the door, which he has set aside earlier in the month. One out of three weeks he helps in Sunday School. After service, he is on the lookout for newcomers to the church, and goes out of his way to introduce himself and thank them for coming. Every Sunday, the family orders take-out for dinner (trying to keep the day easy-going).

Joe likes to dabble with guitar on the side, though he’s not very good at it yet. He’s a regular at men’s work bees at the church, and the family has sponsored a child through Compassion International for the past 3 years. One co-worker in particular Joe likes to invite over for BBQ’s. He’s been praying for him and regularly invites him to church. So far his efforts haven’t had much results, but Joe’s not losing hope. He knows that he’s just a regular guy, a sinner in need of grace, but he is without a doubt living his life to the glory of God.

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