As Christians we say that we believe that all glory and honor and praise belong to God and God alone! How is it then that we seek the approval and praise of men? Isn't true humility before God to desire to be hidden even when we are in a position of prominence. Perhaps to some of us that would be what is called an oxymoron. Let me attempt to bring into focus what I am talking about.
In our world we have people who stand out in the crowd. There are educators, scientists, athletes, big name celebrities, doctors, lawyers, leaders of various religions, ministers of the gospel, deceivers who proclaim a different gospel, writers, artists, and on and on the list could go. Let's consider what would happen if these people actually believed that all glory and honor belongs to God alone.
To me, the most obvious are athletes. Athletes are given great skills and abilities and physical stamina by their creator along with the ability to develop those gifts to what we deem incredible proportions. If they are lauded in various stages of their development from childhood through to adulthood they readily accept the praise of men, and most of them hunger for it. Some of these athletes accept huge salaries that the average individual would never dream of receiving and many perks that come with their field of endeavor, but they rarely give the credit to God for all the gifts that made it possible for them to attain their success. The very fact that they owe their existence to God, let alone all the ability he has given them is lost in the shuffle of life and drowned in the voices of those who praise them, and they go on totally ignorant that they are stealing glory that belongs to God alone. Even a considerable portion those who do consider God offer only a token acknowledgment rather than crying out against people exalting them. Praise for our accomplishments. without acknowledging God. should be offensive to those who truly love God and want to give all honor to him. Does anyone understand this?
In the not too distant past a Christian song was aired on the radio proclaiming that “everyone needs an atta boy every now and then.” We know that the mind set of humanity is to receive attention for many things from birth to the grave. It all begins with babies when they are born. We fall all over ourselves to compliment the parents as if they somehow created this tiny, beautiful masterpiece. While it is true that this child sprang from the parents, we forget that God gave us the ability to bring life into the world, and no life would ever exist without him.
The incredible process of birth alone is amazing to us and beyond our power to duplicate. The first words coming out of our mouths should be praises to God for his magnificent creative ability as we see the sperm and the egg unite and begin to go through all the stages of the birth cycle until this marvelous miracle appears from the womb of the mother. Yes the child is beautiful or handsome, and yes it is healthy and strong, but it is by God's grace alone and his marvelous working, and the parents should shun praise that doesn't belong to them. They were merely instruments God used to fulfill his plan and purpose in procreation and for the continuance of the human race and to give this blessing to all mankind. Does this seem too radical to anyone who really believes God alone is worthy of praise for every good thing that comes in our lives? If it does, then God will have to help us to see it as we should!
As a child grows and matures he or she begins to crawl, walk, run, speak coherently, put thoughts together that produce one new thing or the other, excel in the arts, sports, science or whatever field of endeavor that he or she enjoys, and perhaps become a world renowned achiever. The beginning of the process was that God gave life and sustained it while the child was growing up. The ability to crawl, walk, run, form thoughts that people can easily understand, learn, excel in learning or other fields of endeavor and achieve recognition all came from God. If he had chosen to deny that life, none of the things attained in the course of that life would have come to pass. God could easily take that life away at any time in the process, and nobody could stop him. His will is supreme in the universe. We have heard, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Do we really believe that? Do we even accept that? Are we inwardly rebelling against the fact that God, in his infinite wisdom, knows when the right time is for life to begin and end? When we feel the sorrow and grief at the loss of a loved one, do we also praise God because he truly knows what is best? When our team loses at sports do we praise God because we understand that the loss was necessary to teach some or all of the team and coaches a lesson in humility or that it somehow fits a purpose that we don't comprehend as of yet? We somehow would rather believe that the referees or someone else is to blame for the loss and they “fixed the game.” Even if that were true, aren't we able to see clearly that ALL THINGS work together for the good to those who love God and are called according to HIS PURPOSES?” Nothing touches our lives without passing God's inspection first, and he will never needlessly allow us to endure anything that isn't necessary.
Early in my Christian experience there was a song that I loved to sing, but knew all too little about. It went like this: “In everything give him thanks, give him thanks. In everything give God thanks. In the good times praise his name. In the bad times do the same. In everything, give the King of Kings all the thanks.” As I grew in experience and understanding I suddenly came to realize that giving God all the thanks was a tall order. Many of us like to revise the song to suit us. We would rather sing: “In the good times praise his name. In the bad times PLACE THE BLAME.” If we are honest with ourselves, we will have to confess that most of our lives were spent doing just that.
I don't think it is necessary to go on speaking of each field of endeavor and its good points and its bad points. It is all one and the same. It is mankind longing for recognition and forgetting that without our God given abilities we would receive recognition for nothing. There are scriptures that solidly back up what is presented in this message. Below are a few that come to mind and need to be considered by all who profess to be Christians and also by those who will one day stand before a holy God to give strict accounting for the talents that God has bestowed upon them.
The following Scriptures pertain to
giving thanks and glory to God.
I Thessalonians 5:18 - “In EVERYTHING give thanks, for this is the will of God, in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
Jeremiah 9:23-24 - “Thus saith the Lord, let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither
let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him that glorieth, glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving kindness, judgment and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I
delight saith the Lord.”
Isaiah 42:8 - “I am the Lord; that is my name, and my glory will I not give to another; neither my praise to graven images.”
I Corinthians 1:31 - “That according as it is written, he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
I Corinthians 10:31 - “Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or WHATSOEVER YE DO, do all to the glory of God.”
James 1:17 - “EVERY GOOD GIFT AND EVERY PERFECT GIFT is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
II Corinthians 4:7 - “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us.”
The following scriptures show the state of man by comparison and should be enough to convince the honest reader that mankind is wicked by nature and undeserving of all God bestows upon us and in acknowledging that fact, we should humble ourselves and know we should shun recognition and be more than willing to give all honor and praise to God who deserves it. Some would say that these scriptures are abasing, but I believe they are rather humbling and destroy all possibility of mankind boasting in their achievements or accepting praise for them.
I Corinthians 4:7 - “For who maketh thee to differ from another,? and what hast thou that
thou didst not receive? now, if thou didst receive it, why doest thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?”
Psalms 39:5b - “Every man at his best state is altogether vanity.”
Isaiah 64:6 - “But we are all as an unclean thing; and all OUR RIGHTEOUSNESSES are as filthy rags, and we do all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”
Romans 3:10 - “As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one.”
Romans 3:223 - “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
I Corinthians 1:26-29 - “For ye see your calling brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called; But God has chosen the FOOLISH things of the world to confound the WISE; and God hath chosen the WEAK things of the world to confound the things which are MIGHTY; and BASE THINGS of the world, and things which are DESPISED, hath God chosen, yea, and things WHICH ARE NOT, to bring to nought THINGS THAT ARE; that NO FLESH should glory in his presence.”
I will close this message with some comments on the these final verses. God calls people to himself to serve and honor and glorify him, but he doesn't call those who are wise after the flesh or mighty after the flesh or noble after the flesh. Those are men and women who would consider themselves to be wise and refuse to acknowledge that God alone has enabled them to attain wisdom. They are more than willing to receive the praises of men rather than the praises of God. So it is with the mighty or those who are willing to think of themselves as mighty. They also love the praises of men more than the praises of God. The noble are of the same heart and mind. The Bible says that the world loves its own. These spiritually empty people think far more of themselves than they ought to, and they include kings and potentates of lands and villages, governors, the ungodly rich who love wealth more than God, and, of course, political leaders of all nations. They exalt themselves and are exalted by one another and even exalted by ignorant men and women who do not understand that there is a far, far greater power than what they know or understand. So they give honor and praise and undue subservience to those who are greedy for worship and recognition that belongs to God alone. The things that aren't are the legions of unknown men and women. From among them God raises up warriors for his kingdom who fear nothing and who acknowledge that they want only the honor that comes from God. These people believe enough to die for the Lord if necessary because they understand that he alone is worthy to live and die for. These are the people that cause Satan and his demons nightmares and draw the wrath of the ungodly who live for fleshly pleasure and earthly treasure and despise the laws and commandments of God. They totally agree that NO FLESH SHOULD GLORY IN HIS PRESENCE.
I wonder dear reader, which of these people you are! The Bible says that to whom much is given much shall be required. Are you gifted or do you somehow believe that God has given you nothing to bring glory and honor to him? If you are gifted, what are you doing with the gifts that he has given you? Do you love the praises of men more than the honor that comes from God? If you feel that you have little or nothing to give, are you denying what you really have. Could you be a great prayer warrior laboring before the throne of God with great earnestness of spirit? Anyone could be if they would choose to deny their own carnal desires and submit themselves to the Holy Spirit to be led into this vitally important and too neglected ministry. So then, prayer moves the mighty hand of God and all of us could be mighty in the business of prayer. It is strange that so many consider this so insignificant that most of us have never learned the true value of crying out in prayer in such a way that it shakes heaven and earth. Even those who have “prayer ministries” are virtually clueless concerning this kind of praying because we have become willing to settle for far less. I stand guilty as charged in this area. How about you?
If we are gifted in any area at all, and God allows us to excel in any way, it is for the purpose of using our gifts to draw people to God through his son Jesus Christ! Our ability is our daily theater of performance, so to speak, that can be used for that purpose. It is not so we can get an “atta boy.” The much higher purpose in all of life is to bring honor and glory and praise to God and God alone. In God's kingdom it is all about his glory! He alone is worthy! Without him nothing that exists could exist!
Can we begin to have a little light shining on us through this message coming from an imperfect vessel wanting to serve God, or will we shun this message and go on about our business rebelling against the whole idea? Do you believe the writer of this message is any different than you? Do you think for one minute that I find myself more godly or holy or talented or in any way more of anything than anyone else? If you do then you have missed the entire message and it is only words to you. Measure your own life against the message. If you wish, follow the advice of scripture that declares that Christ set the example for all of us to follow. If we all measure ourselves against him, every honest person who reads this will know beyond all doubt that we are not worthy of any praise,
and that God alone is. What will you do with this message? What will I do with this message? Time will tell, and the day of judgment will bring it all to light. Will we choose
to glorify God alone? That is up to us!