Exactly who are we seeking to glorify? How good are we at serving friends without needing them or others to know that which we have done? Are we OK with anonymity or with people not noticing our love for God, our labors for man, and our contributions for God’s kingdom? Are we happy to take the second chair? Do we need the focus, limelight, or praise of people? Are we concerned about someone plagiarizing our material, using it for God’s glory, and then getting some credit for our work? Would we still do our ministry deeds if no one noticed? Do we ever love being incognito? Will we give money when no one knows what our right hand is doing? And when all our ministry works are said and done, do we find people making a big deal about us, or do we find them forgetting us out of fascination for Christ?
Listen to the prayer of the Apostle Paul:
To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thess. 1:11-12)
Now listen to the teaching of D.A. Carson:
The Christian’s whole desire, at its best and highest, is that Jesus Christ be praised. It is always a wretched bastardization of our goals win we want to win glory for ourselves instead of for him. When we arrange flowers in the church, or serve as an usher, or preach a sermon; when we visit the sick, or run a youth group, or attend prayer meeting — when we do any of these things, and more, with the secret desire that we might be praised for our godliness and service, we have corrupted the salvation we enjoy … Lying at the center of all sin is the desire to be like God. So if we take on Christian service and think of such service as the vehicle that will make us central, we have paganized Christian service; we have domesticated Christian living and set it to servitude in a pagan cause.
It was the Pharisee who prayed so men could see. He was the one doing his deeds to receive the applause of men. He was not engaged in religion to make much of God. No, he was as engaged in religion that much might be made of him. He needed to be in the center of the spotlight.
Friends, I am absolutely sure there is a lot of “Pharisee” in me. I must repent. I must ask the Lord to help me pant to make much of my Savior. All glory should go to Christ alone. And I might be mistaken, but I am fairly sure there might be a little “Pharisee” in you.
Friends, let us keep doing our good deeds, but let us worship with the proper motivation. Let us pray for each other that God might enable us to serve Christ and others with the heart of John the Baptist. He was the one who said, “He must increase, and I must decrease.” He was happy to be the groomsman — the one who gave all glory to the Groom.”
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