First Corinthians was written by Paul in the early-to-mid 50s CE in Ephesus. He was responding to a letter he received from the Corinthians, as well as to news he received from the people of Chloe’s household, as noted in Ephesians 1:11. It is written in the standard style of a letter of that time. In the body of his letter, Paul addresses various issues the Corinthians were experiencing in their community and answers questions raised by members of the church.
The Book of First Corinthians gives us a look into the struggles of one of the earliest Christian communities. Corinth was one of the first major cities Paul visited on his missionary journey. He organized and taught in house gatherings in Corinth for eighteen months. He did this along with other co-workers, some that may sound familiar to you, such as Timothy and Silvanus, Priscilla and her husband Aquila, and Phoebe.
Corinth was one of the most significant cities in the Roman world, well known for its location between two seaports, making it ideal for transporting goods. The population was diverse, which would have been reflected in the church. Some church members were wealthy and influential, while others were from the middle or lower classes. The church was also made up of both Jewish believers and newly converted Gentiles. The variety in the backgrounds of the church members may have been one of the main reasons they had divisions and therefore needed guidance from Paul.
As Paul provides instruction on how the members of the Corinthian church should live as Christians, 1 Corinthians 10:31 seems to be all-encompassing. It is helpful to have specific and practical advice regarding the various topics Paul addresses, especially for those like the Corinthians, who were just learning what it means to be a community following Christ together, but this verse is something we can hold on to and carry with us, pushing us in the right direction no matter what the situation holds. In whatever we do, we are to do it for the glory of God.
This seems especially significant for teenagers as they learn to navigate the challenging years leading to young adulthood. They experience many changes, are and it can sometimes be difficult to know what to do or how to act in certain situations. This verse provides an easy reminder of how to live in line with the teachings of Scripture as we ask ourselves, “Is what I’m doing and how I’m doing it glorifying God?”
This tool can be used by the students in your group today, and you can use it too. Life isn’t only difficult for those in a new phase of life. New challenges can pop up for us at any stage of life. On the other hand, sometimes monotony can be our greatest enemy. At times we may look back over the past month or even year and realize we have just been going through the motions.
Maybe you feel as though you’re in a rut or you can’t really remember the last time you did something “for the glory of God.” Remember, whatever you do, you can do it for the glory of God. When you make the choice to be kind to the cashier checking you out at the grocery store, that kindness is for the glory of God. When you bake a loaf of bread, use it as a time for prayer. Each time you press down as you knead the dough, thank God for the flour, yeast, and water that came together to make something delicious that provides nourishment. Thank God for the strength in your arms and hands to be able to push down, fold, and turn the dough. Your gratitude is for the glory of God. When you feed your cat or take your dog for a walk, you are caring for another one of God’s creations, and that is for the glory of God.
Whether you are faced with challenging situations and tough decisions, or whether you are making your way through a day that feels the same as the day before, remember this verse. Think of ways Paul’s teaching to the Corinthians applies to your life. How can you bring glory to God today? How are you doing that already right now?
Haley Seanor serves as a hospital chaplain in Birmingham, Alabama. She feels blessed and humbled by the opportunity to walk alongside others in this role. Haley was a contributor for the book Reading the Bible Outdoors: The Practice of Lectio Sub Divo, A Devotional Guide.