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The warning to Baruch
- Jacob Ninan
Baruch was an assistant to the Prophet Jeremiah, who wrote down on scrolls what Jeremiah dictated, and read it out in the temple and before the king. He may have had a scholarly mind and skills because Jeremiah entrusted him with noting down the words of God.
But apprently Baruch got a shock when he faced opposition from the king and other high officials for standing with Jeremiah and writing down his words (Je.45:3). He thought that God was not being fair to him, considering what he was doing for Him.
But God understood the root cause of Baruch's problems. He told Baruch through Jeremiah, "But you, are you seeking great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for behold, I am going to bring disaster on all flesh" (Je.45:5). Do we hear this warning from God now and then? If we do, it shows us that we have not become totally dull of hearing, because this is something we need to hear often.
There is a saying in the world that people are generally seeking after one or more of three things - money, fame or pleasure. Even though we have been advised to seek God's kingdom and His righteousness first (Mt.6:33), and we know that we cannot serve God and money (or fame or pleasure) at the same time (Mt.6:24), we are drawn to these things in our heart many times. We know that the Bible says that all these worldly lusts will one day pass away (1Jn.2:17), just like God told Baruch. But yet we are tempted.
These lusts do not disappear even when we are seeking to serve God! We don't have to look at examples among Christian leaders but we can see in our own lives how we are tempted to seek money, honour and pleasure also while we are serving God. The warning to Baruch specially refers to seeking honour (while he was serving God as a scribe for Jeremiah).
When we do well in Christian service, in whatever form, it is almost inevitable that we also become well known. People begin to appreciate what we are doing, and perhaps they tell us so too, or even praise us. We feel like basking in that glory, and think of the 'sacrifices' we have made in order to come to this place!
But that was not how Peter reacted when people admired him for healing a lame man. He told them immediately that it was not he who had made that man well, but Jesus (Ac.3:12). Paul cried out in horror that people should think that he was any greater than any other man because he had healed a man in the name of Jesus (Ac.14:15). These apostles had the spirit of Christ in them who Himself had always sought to give the honour to the Father for what He did and said (Jn.5:30).
It may not be always possible to say such things openly. And it is not that we shouldn't feel thankful that God has blessed us. But shouldn't we always have the attitude in our heart of acknowledging God? If there is anything good in us, or we can do anything good, hasn't it come from God? (Jas.1:17). We ought to remember this constantly. Or are we perhaps secretly seeking great things for ourselves?