Is it possible for one to think himself to be a hero and really be a zero? Is it possible for one to believe he is in good stead with God and later find out his condition is not so favorable?
Too often, life is similar to participating in a YMCA basketball league. When the season is done, no matter how horrible we are as players and as a team, everyone gets a trophy, a party, and a congratulatory cheer. As youngsters, when we evaluate ourselves and hear the commendation of our friends and parents, we conclude we must be pretty special ball players. However, the reality is quite different.
Towards the end of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church, the Apostle makes the following statement:
For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. (2 Corinthians 10:18)
Do we commend ourselves? Big deal!
Do we commend one another? This is nice, but not always that valid or impressive.
Do we find ourselves commended by God? Are we hearing him say, “Well done?” This is vital.
Personally, I spend far too much time commending myself. Sadly, I am a legend in my own eyes, and if the thoughts bouncing about in my head could be heard, I would be found saying along with Muhammad Ali, “I am the greatest!” I look about and am dumbfounded at the stupidity of most in my world. Too often I go to prayer and along with the self-righteous Pharisee thank the Lord I am not as wicked and offensive as others. When I hear a sermon, I evaluate it instead of allowing it to evaluate me. And when I do think of applications, I deem the particular sermon to be of incredible value for someone else. In regards to making decisions, I am wise in my own eyes, and since I am the smartest person in the room, I refuse to listen and take counsel from my elders or my brothers? Arrogantly I pontificate about my goodness. I am a legend in my own eyes.
I also spend too much time seeking the commendation of others. And in this relativistic and subjective world, it is not that hard to find someone who will tell me how great I am and how well I am doing.
Friends, all that should matter is the commendation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So where can we go to find his commendation?
With our eyes, let us search for Christ’s commendation through his Word. Let us see God’s standard. Let us see Christ’s sacrifice and merit. Then, let us also see how we are slowly and progressively being made more into the image of Christ. Let us rejoice in how we are making progress in our sanctification. Commendation should come from our conformity to Christ.
Also, with our consciences, let us seek to feel or sense the commendation, testimony, assurance, or communion that comes from the Holy Spirit. Let us confess our sins and keep short accounts. A not grieved and unquenched Spirit is of great encouragement to the believer. Therefore, let us keep our consciences clean and find commendation from an easily pricked soul that is learning to hate sin more and crave righteousness.
With our mouths, let us taste the commendation of the Lord expressed through his supper distributed to us by his elders. The church is one of the means Christ uses to endorse our faith. Therefore, there is a good correspondence between the decree of the faithful church and that declaration made in heaven. So every time we are granted access to the Lord’s Table, let us hear the warning; let us hear the welcome; let us see the inviting elders, and let us partake of the commendation of the Lord.
Then some day we will hear with our ears. When he comes again, how sad it will be when he says to some, “Depart from me; I never knew you.” Conversely, how happy we will be when Christ looks our way and says, “Well done my good and faithful servant; enter into your joy.”