Monday, May 13, 2013

Aren't I Terrific!

           My best sister in the Lord gave me a book to read the other day. It is called “Words That Hurt, Words That Heal” by Carole Mayhall. I have been reading it and enjoying it so much. But then I came to a part in the book that convicted me, that opened to me a part of my heart that I was not quite ready to deal with yet.
                The one chapter that has convicted me is the one titled “Aren’t I Terrific!” It is a chapter on boasting and bragging. I never considered myself someone who bragged or boasted, at least not in myself, but according to God’s Word, I had an issue with “name dropping, place dropping, event dropping and successful ministry dropping.” (pg. 30) I was involved in various ministries at my former church. I was the girl someone called when they needed something; I was involved in women’s ministry and was the leader of the Children’s Ministry. I was pretty proud of my accomplishments, but then one day it all came crashing down and my husband and I left that church and joined ourselves to another.
                I tell you all of this because since I have stepped away from all these ministries that I was involved in, I have begun to see why the Lord God chose to lead my husband and I the way that He did. At first I was not so sure about it all, but after reading this one chapter, I see in myself and in many other women and men of the church a great sin that can crash our rides of glory in an instant. I was a boaster, I was pretty good at making it seem like I was giving the glory to God, but in retrospect, I was taking the praise for myself and not giving it back to God.
                Jeremiah 9:24 speaks to us about boasting and bragging, about name dropping, place, event and ministry dropping, it is a warning to all of us today to make our boasts in the Lord God alone, and not in ourselves. Boasting and glorying is a sin of pride, and we all know that God humbles the proud.
                “Thus says the Lord; Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment and righteousness in the earth, for in these I delight.” says the Lord.”
                The Lord God warns us not to boast in our wisdom, our might, or our riches, but if we are to glory, let us glory in Him, in the fact that we are His, and in what He has done for us. The word “glory” used in Jeremiah means to make a show. When we glory in ourselves we are “showing” ourselves to be more than we are, we are showing ourselves off to others and exalting ourselves above one another. What we do in the church should not be what people see, what people see should be Jesus Christ living and moving in us and through us. The ministries we are involved in, the people we help, instead of talking and “sharing” it with others, what if we would not say anything at all and allow the Lord to bring our “goodness” to light?
                Carole Mayhall writes, “Name dropping. Place dropping. Event dropping. Even successful ministry dropping. Oh, we wouldn’t admit especially to ourselves. We’d say it was sharing answers to prayer or giving cause for rejoicing, and it may be. Only God can judge our motives. Yet scripture tells us, “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips. (Prov. 27:2)” {pg. 30 Words that hurt, words that heal)
                God sees all that we do; He sees the motives and the intents of our hearts. When we serve in the church, when we help a sister out, when we pray and our prayers are answered, why are we so eager to tell everyone we can about it? If you are doing it for the Lord, then should we not seek the Lord to reward us and not our own lips? Boasting and bragging cause us to seek the praises of man rather than the praises of God, and therefore we are no longer doing it for the Lord but for our own glory.
                I too have had an issue with this in the past. I have allowed people to praise me, and I have sought the praises of men. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:16 that we are to “Let {our} lights so shine before men that they see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” It is not what we do but Who we do it for that brings glory to the Lord. It doesn’t matter how you testify about your own works, it is what God says about us that matters and that will endure. When you do something great and fantastic, don’t tell anyone about it. Let the works that you do glorify God and let others see His glory through you. When we “testify” of the great things God is doing in our lives we walk a fine line of boasting and bragging. We all do it, so denying that you do is pointless. We are sinful, prideful people who seek glory, but we must recognize it for what it is, bragging and boasting is pride exalting itself against God.
                Carole Mayhall writes, “Obviously, we mustn’t become overly concerned about this. Many times we want to, and should, share things with friends. And simply because we are human, we will tell things from our point of view. But the difference between sharing information and boasting is in who gets the glory. Two people shared similar ministry experiences. One said, ‘God really used me. I led three people to Christ, and many others commented on how my message helped them.’ The other said, ‘As a result of your prayers, God worked in a wonderful way. Two people received Christ, and many expressed that they were touched by His hand.’” (pg. 31)
                Do you see the difference? Anytime we bring the attention to ourselves, we are boasting, and we are receiving the glory for what just took place. Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:16-18 that when we fast we are not to do it so that everyone can see it, but to do it in secret where only you and God see. For when we seek to do anything openly, we seek the praises of men and according to scripture, you have your reward. But we are to lay up treasures in heaven, we are to seek to please God in all that we do, and not seek to be seen but seek to point people to Jesus Christ, who is the one doing all the work, you are just a vessel.
                So let us no more glory in what we do, what we say, or how greatly God uses us, but let us humble ourselves and let others see the glory of the Lord God working in and through us, and if we do desire to glory, let us glory in the knowledge of Who He is and Who He desires to be in the lives of all mankind. To Him be glory forever and ever, Amen and Amen.