Whose Kingdom is this Anyway?

 glory humility+

 

I have always been far too preoccupied with my own glory.

I don’t like saying that because it sounds terrible. And embarrassing. And deeply sinful.

God does not share his glory with anyone else and our lives need to be preoccupied with his glory and not our own.

As a child in the hospital, I remember watching TV for hours on end. The ward was dull and boring and the four walls of the hospital were all I knew. But TV took me to a world where people lead exciting glamorous lives, lives that I longed to emulate.

Much of my time was spent fantasizing over what my life would look like. Once I left the hospital, I imagined that one day people would marvel over my beauty. And brilliance. And bravery.

I don’t fantasize about those things anymore, mostly because I’m a realist. I still have same struggles, though they are more discrete and hidden.

I now wrestle with wanting to be “successful” in the Christian world, which is still ultimately about my glory. And of course, I always want to look humble.  It’s insidious and frightening, which makes it all the more terrifying to write it on this screen for others to read and know.

But thankfully, God knows this preoccupation with my glory is poison to my soul and he reminds me that I need to run from it.

My latest awareness of this sin started when I was reading the Bible and was drawn to Luke 14:7-11. In this passage, Jesus says “But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place… For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

I wrote in my journal, “Do not sit down in a place of honor. Take the lowest place. Let others praise you and not your own lips.”

I even wrote “take the low seat” on the prayer card that I pray daily for myself. I am asking God to bring this about in my life.

I don’t like the low seat. I want to take a place of honor. And if other people don’t know my accomplishments, I’d like to make sure they do. And so I would prefer to casually drop into conversation some of my achievements, ensuring that I don’t sound like I’m boasting.

There are so many rationales today for doing that, especially for writers. We’re establishing a platform. We want to get the word out for others so we can serve them. We need to find the people who will resonate with our message. To help them.

While that is very true, there is a dark and ugly side to self-promotion too. We want people to praise us. We want to further our kingdoms. Of course, that’s because God can use us more, right?

Do I think it’s wrong for people to promote themselves? No, not at all. For some people, that’s what God is calling them to do because they need to reach people with the message God has entrusted them with. But for me, God keeps telling me to take the low seat.

As I mentioned earlier, this desire for my own glory has been a lifelong battle for me and it didn’t begin when I started writing publicly. When I came to Christ at age 16, one of the first Scriptures I underlined in my Bible was John 12:43 speaking of the Pharisees, “For they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.”

I knew then that my loving the praise of others was a deeply rooted problem, though I had no idea how deep its roots actually were.

And as other sin came to the forefront in my life, I slowly forgot the deadliness of wanting man’s praise and pursuing it. It was an easy sin to rationalize and disguise.

So now, decades later, I’m grateful the Lord is reminding me afresh that I need to keep bringing this sin to him. Or it will kill me. Because the praise of man is fickle at best and toxic at worst. God’s praise is the only thing that matters.

I need to live for God’s glory and not my own.

I was recently convicted as I read the Resolves” of Frederick W Robertson, a preacher in England in the mid 1800’s. I appreciated his insight into his own heart, which gave me greater insight into mine.

After reading Robertson’s resolves, I have been asking myself: Am I content to be insignificant or am I striving to make a name for myself? Do I turn conversations back to myself so that I can shine? Am I a subtle trumpeter of my own accomplishments? Do I think about myself too often? Am I willing to be overlooked? How am I building my own castles?

As I honestly answer each question, I am embarrassed at how preoccupied I am with myself and my glory. How I don’t like obscurity. I like people to know who I am, what I do and what I’ve done. Which is precisely why the Lord keeps reminding me to take the low seat. To not promote myself. To let God use me however he will.

God often does his deepest work in obscurity. When no one sees but God. And eventually his “Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your master” will bring more delight than man’s praise ever could.

To God alone be the glory.

 

  • February 2, 2017 - 8:36 pm

    Juliemoemoe - Our secret sins are the ones that secretly tear apart our soul. Bringing us farther away from God. Thank you for sharing this??ReplyCancel

    • February 2, 2017 - 8:50 pm

      Vaneetha - They do, Julie. I’m thankful that God loves us enough to keep bringing them to the light!ReplyCancel

  • February 3, 2017 - 8:25 am

    Sheila Dougal - Vaneetha, I so identify with what you write here! One of my life verses is the one you mentioned where Jesus warns of doing what you do because you love the glory that comes from people rather than from God. It’s a spotlight on my soul! Another verse in Proverbs about the fear of man being a snare… that’s the snare I get caught in too often. I hate it. Writing publicly (whether it be a Facebook post or a blog post or article or whatever) has often been the place where I come face to face with this temptation to do what I do for the love of men’s praise again and again. One of the scriptures the Holy Spirit often uses to help me is Galatians 1:10 “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ?” I ask my self is this writing obeying Christ? Is it exalting him or me? Is it putting him as the center and his ways as right? Often times the writings I feel most led to share I don’t want to share because I fear people in my life will be offended by it and thereby I reveal my motive is the love of men’s praise. But those are the writings that usually are most Christ centered and therefore are the ones I know the Spirit leads me to share for Christ’s glory. I also find that looking for comments, and stats on readers are pitfalls for me. I love what you’ve shared here! I think any person in public ministry, writer feels this conviction as a Christian. Thank you for boldly and vulnerably sharing the truth! May Christ be magnified over and over in your life and your joy multiply! Much love!ReplyCancel

    • February 3, 2017 - 7:54 pm

      Vaneetha - Thank you so much for writing, Sheila. I can relate to everything you said. Love that Galatians Scripture and the question you ask, “Is this exalting him or me?” I have so far to go… but thankful that he who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it!ReplyCancel

  • February 3, 2017 - 12:51 pm

    Effie Darlene Barba - Thank you for allowing yourself to be so vulnerable when you write. To God be the Glory, AmenReplyCancel

  • February 3, 2017 - 1:05 pm

    Beth Paul - Vaneetha,
    Again (as you do so often) you have challenged me and written words down that I should be journaling about myself. I can completely relate with these very powerful battles in the mind and spirit. What I am convicted that I “glory in” are the impressions I make or what people believe or think of me. I have known this to be an idol in my life but fight daily to be free of it. Your words helped me to place some scripture along side the inadequacy I feel and recognize that low self worth may just really be a revelation of my desire for glory. I think of you often and thank God for you as you have spoken truth into my journey out of your own brokenness. Though our bodies may fail us… “God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Ps. 73:26
    BethReplyCancel

    • February 3, 2017 - 7:50 pm

      Vaneetha - So thankful this helped you, Beth. I wish it wasn’t such a struggle for me but I know the more I bring it to light and give it the Lord, the freer I am.ReplyCancel

  • February 3, 2017 - 1:19 pm

    Effie Darlene Barba - Also, last Sunday as I lay in the hospital bed recovering from emergency surgery; I realized how blessed my life has been with so many surgeries in the past. Over the years, through all the trials; I have seen God’s miraculous Grace at work in my life. A view I might not have seen were it not for all the trials along the way. I wrote this poem that morning; hope, it blesses you today.

    With Joy and Hope

    By Effie Darlene Barba

    I felt the warmth of love and Grace

    Your breath of life upon my face

    As I awoke this bright new day

    With joy and hope I bow to pray

    To sing a song of love to You

    For all that You have brought me through

    My life so filled with wondrous things

    My spirit soars on gilded wings

    For You my God, my dearest Friend

    Have been my strength to now ascend

    Each mountain peak that I have faced

    Through pathways treacherous sometimes laced

    With slippery slopes that bid my feet

    To fall below in tears, defeat

    Yet on those roads of dark despair

    Your gentle voice was always there

    You gave me hope to then believe

    Your promises I would receive

    You drew me closer to your side

    Where in thy grace I did abide!

    Some would look upon my life

    And wonder with the trials, strife

    What is my source of happiness?

    And why my heart is filled with bliss

    Then I can tell them of Your Grace

    And How to seek Your lovely Face

    If they Accept Your Gift, Your Son

    Their Victory You have already won

    I felt the warmth of love and Grace

    Your breath of life upon my face

    As I awoke this bright new day

    With joy and hope I bow to prayReplyCancel

  • February 3, 2017 - 2:19 pm

    Amy - Excellent, timely reminder, Vaneetha. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • February 3, 2017 - 2:52 pm

    krista - Dear Vaneetha,
    Thank you for being real 🙂ReplyCancel

  • February 3, 2017 - 4:34 pm

    MIke R - Praise is a powerful drug. And it never cures the disease. I should know, as I am a praise addict. I recently read a booklet by Tim Keller, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness.
    https://www.amazon.com/Freedom-Self-Forgetfulness-Path-Christian/dp/1906173419/ref=la_B001H6SAQW_1_9/156-2335874-1212305?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1486157087&sr=1-9

    It is a short sermon on 1 Corinthinians 3:21 – 4:7. The focus is the joy that comes when we are able to stop being concerned with others think of us, and what we think of ourselves. As a person who is constantly afflicted with the sinful habit of “man pleasing.” I’ve got a long way to go, but it greatly helped me on the journey.ReplyCancel

    • February 3, 2017 - 7:45 pm

      Vaneetha - Thank you for the recommendation. I will definitely read that- I really appreciate all the Keller books I’ve read!ReplyCancel

  • February 6, 2017 - 8:06 am

    Kristel Finns - I love this! Do you know the location of the picture? I am thinking of framing a print as a reminder that it’s always about His kingdom. Love love loveReplyCancel

    • February 6, 2017 - 10:48 am

      Vaneetha - The picture is of Neuschwanstein Castle in Schwangau, Germany. Its a photo by Rachel Davis I found on http://www.unsplash.com. Its an awesome site for pictures. What a great idea to frame a picture as a reminder of his kingdom!ReplyCancel

  • February 6, 2017 - 11:45 am

    Sherri Crane - Vaneetha, Thank you for your honest sharing. This has been a wrestle of my own heart and prayers to God for humility–to esteem and promote Him and others as better than myself. To follow Jesus’ example and take the form of a humble servant (Phil.2)

    Thank you for your honesty.ReplyCancel

    • February 6, 2017 - 5:01 pm

      Vaneetha - Glad we are all works-in-progress and that his grace covers all!ReplyCancel

  • February 11, 2017 - 5:50 am

    Derek Riley - I constantly have to remind myself what I do I do for God not myself or man, which must be extra difficult when what you are doing is to be seen, read and heard. Thank you for your honesty.ReplyCancel

  • February 15, 2017 - 1:09 am

    Ruth (Fruitful Today) - Vaneetha, this post really helped me. I thank God forgiving you the courage to use your “platform” for his glory by boasting only in your weaknesses. Your raw honesty has been a blessing to me, not just here but in so many other of your posts. ‬Ruth ?ReplyCancel

  • March 17, 2017 - 9:39 am

    nancy o miller - Thanks for helping me (and countless others) today. You clearly were made to help and that is what you are doing.

    Post polio cannot take away the wisdom God has imparted to you and the extraordinary ability to convey this wisdom in a pragmatic, honest, helpful manner. You are a minister, one who helps the soul, in the truest sense. So glad God blessed my life with you, even if I only talk with you thru your blog.:)

    I rarely read blogs. I won’t miss one of yours. 

    With gratitude and love and prayers for you,
    Nancy ReplyCancel

    • March 17, 2017 - 12:00 pm

      Vaneetha - Thank you so much for writing, Nancy. I am so glad the blog has been helpful!ReplyCancel

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