The Radical Difference Between “Do” and “Don’t”

“…Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31). We often like to change this positive “do” into a negative “do not”–“do not do anything which is ‘de-glorifying’ to God; don’t do anything sinful.” How often have you heard things like, “don’t do this or that because it’s not glorifying to God”? The danger here is succumbing to the mindset that a lack of error and refrain from sin is all that Paul intended by these words (→ 1 Cor 10:31). But to leave the positive assertion untouched (as a positive assertion) is far more challenging–everything we do is to be for the purpose of or aim of glorifying God. As Paul said earlier in verse 23, not everything that is permissible is beneficial. How often do we think in terms of “permissible” rather than “beneficial,” allowing ourselves to think in terms of what’s allowable v. what isn’t, and thereby making 1 Cor 10:31 into a negative command to refrain from certain activities rather than a positive command to “do”–do what brings glory to God, or more so, do what brings the most glory to God? We are drawn towards thinking in terms of “permissible” (in either form: a legalistic moralism or a carnal antinomianism) because it’s much easier. But this doesn’t necessarily entail the radical discipleship of “do” which scripture commands and is therefore terribly insufficient.

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