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It's not in us
- Jacob Ninan
It is quite natural when we do something special--preaching a sermon or writing something that blesses the others, healing the sick, casting out a demon, helping someone out of a problem, etc.--that people begin to admire us. They unwittingly place an aura over us as if we were someone special. But it would be quite silly if we begin to believe that! We should know within us that we have not done any of this "by our own power or piety" (Ac.3:12). In fact, it wasn't we who actually did it but God working through us. We know we are just created people and we can do nothing unless God gives us the ability and the anointing to do it. Even if we were born with 'natural' abilities that we can use to accomplish many great things, we know it was God who created us with those abilities (De.8:18). We may have also experienced the sobering truth that even when we exercise our abilities the maximum we can accomplish is to impress some people. We can't really 'bless' anyone in their lives without God's anointing working through us. In every sense we are entirely dependent on God for our life and our work.
It is very common for us to make the mistake of receiving the glory and admiration that come from others as if they are ours to enjoy. But God is very jealous about His glory to make sure that no one steals it (Is.48:11). If we try to usurp that glory we will be the losers because He will chastise us specially for it. If we blunder along callously we will suffer eternal loss and perhaps even shame before the very people who praised us once. Even if we only flirt with this glory to enjoy it momentarily we will lose out on all that God wanted to give to us and do through us.
God gives us spiritual gifts to bless others with (1Co.12:7), and not for our own enjoyment. Our satisfaction is in seeing others getting blessed and God being glorified through it. That is the heart of all who have truly recognised that they were wretched, hopeless sinners who deserved hell, and who have been redeemed through the undeserved grace of God and made children and servants of God (1Ti.1:12-14). We who have been forgiven much love much (Lk.7:47), and we are clear that it is God who deserves the glory and not us. The question we have to settle in our heart is, "Do I want to bless, or to impress?"
God asked Abraham to walk before Him and be perfect (Ge.17:1). What happens when things go well and everybody's praises are in our ears is that we take God for granted. God's voice of warning and correction becomes faint. And then when we live before people, seeking their recognition and applause we begin to think that we are someone special to be able to bless them.
All of us are broken vessels to some degree or another, whom the Potter is reusing instead of throwing away. The least we can do is to keep the vessel clean for the Master's use--clean from self-glory, self-congratulation and pride. Otherwise God will find someone else, and we will be the losers (Es.4:14).