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To bless or impress?
- Jacob Ninan
I don't know who said this first, but I remember these words related to why we do Christian service. Do we do it sincerely to serve people in Jesus' name, or to get a name for ourselves? This is not a question that we can settle once for all, but we need to go back to it once in a while. It does make a world of a difference, literally, because it shows which world we live for--the world down here or heaven above.
Every sincere person who seeks to serve knows that it also brings recognition from the people around. It can be thrilling to think about it and let the imagination fly, assuming that it doesn't do anyone any harm just to imagine. But it does. We become more enslaved to the opinion of man, and we also end up relishing the glory that rightfully belongs to God (Is.48:11). The shift in our focus--from serving God and men to making ourselves great in the eyes of men--is subtle and slow, but it leads to disastrous results.
God and men's honour are two entirely different types of masters. We get into different sets of ethics, standards, strategies and styles depending on whom we seek to serve. If we start serving men, even intermittently, our service of God will be compromised (Ga.1:10). On the other hand, if we seek to serve God wholeheartedly we must be prepared to give up some popularity with men. We cannot serve two masters (Mt.6:24).
Those who seek to impress people tend to become dishonest before God and man. They would rather be in the good books of man than be accountable to God. They do not do or preach what is really needed for man but select things that will impress man. They would not like to 'hurt' or 'offend' people because that will not help their popularity, but convince themselves that this comes from a gentle and loving nature. In the process they deprive people of what they need to hear and what will ultimately bring them blessings. They focus on the promises of the Bible--and maintain that whatever they say is from the word of God--and omit mentioning things such as repentance and obedience to God's commandments. In this way they collect a large group of admirers who are kept always 'hoping' for better things in the future. These admirers are happy because they always receive 'encouraging' words from them.
But don't we have to give an account of ourselves to God (Ro.14:12)? Can we fool God by saying that we were seeking to comfort people with His word when He knows the motives and intentions of our heart (1Co.4:5)? Is this love when we deprive others of what they really need because we want to preserve our reputation for goodness? Are we doing the kingdom of God any good if we bring in many people without helping them to be weaned from the kingdom below? How can we be role models to the newcomers if we ourselves are double-minded? Or, are we so taken up with making ourselves great that such issues are never addressed or are always pushed aside? Of course we cannot afford to do that.