Life is full of choices isn’t it? Literally, every day, sometimes down to the hour or minute, we have a multitude of choices to make. Some are so miniscule that they barely affect our daily routine. Others are so profound that they help shape our future for years to come. Our choice to glorify God is exactly that…a choice. It is not contingent on our circumstances but on our response to those circumstances.
Paul, in the book of Philippians, said, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13). What’s so amazing about his statement was that Paul truly had dealt with some dire circumstances in his life. This particular letter to the church in Philippi was composed while Paul was in prison which leads us to believe that Paul really had learned to be content and glorify God in whatever circumstance he found himself in. If you read Romans 8, you can see Paul convincing his readers that we have already conquered all that the world can throw at us (Romans 8:28-39). We have no other choice but to glorify God in any and every situation.
All this still doesn’t make focusing on God in times of distress easy. In fact, glorifying God doesn’t always lead to success or to a rich, abundant life as some would have you to believe. The writer of Hebrews informs us that while some were successful in their service to God, others faced harsh persecution and even death.
“32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.”
The first part of this passage details some of the successful ways these biblical characters were able to glorify God. The second part of the passage shows that there may be a great physical cost for following God. Yet, these faithful Christians were still able to glorify God through their obedience and dedication. Which side do you want to be on? Are you willing to glorify God no matter the cost? I ask because even Jesus warned that faithfully following him would be difficult.
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.”
It seems to me that the entire Bible is very clear about the costs of following Christ. Our reward is not found here (Matthew 5:11-12). The cost is literally paid on a daily basis (Luke 9:23). We will absolutely face trials and difficulties (James 1:2-4). But the choice is ours. No matter the temptations, no matter the adversity, no matter the persecution, we can always choose to glorify God in everything we do.