My oldest son, Nathan, planned to propose to his girlfriend, Aleaha. He was living in Switzerland at the time while she was at school in Ohio. His plan was to fly home, propose, spend a couple weeks, then return. But, he needed a ring. So Nathan gave me a description of what he wanted and I began to search. Communicating by Skype, we found the ring he wanted and we got ready for his surprise visit.
Everything went according to plan. Aleaha was surprised, they got engaged and married, and now they have four children.
Why do I tell you this list of facts and details about my son’s life?
Because, recently, as I was cleaning dishes with my daughters (including my daughters-in-law), the topic of engagement rings came up. As we talked I made it clear that I had found Aleaha’s engagement ring, and that I had gotten a good deal for Nate. The conversation ended, we finished the dishes, and we went on with our day. But God kept bringing the desires of my heart, and the words that came out of my mouth, back into my mind. “Why do I have to point that out? Why do I want credit? Why do I want others to think I am great?”
Earlier this year I began praying that God would show me my sin. Not just sin that I knew about and worked at fighting, but sin that was really in my heart.
And on several occasions He pointed me to my desire for glory…something I was only to give to Him.
A few days after cleaning dishes with my daughters, while reading through John, verses began to jump out at me. The first one came in John 5, verse 44. “How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?”
Wow! My words to Aleaha had been ringing in my ears, and now God was pointing out in His Word the sin of my heart. I desired the praise of man. I wanted others to think well of me, to tell me that I have done well.
“How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?”
The words “How can you believe?” stuck with me all day. Do I believe God? Then I don’t need praise from men. My works are for His glory, not my own.
As I continued to read, I came to John 7:18, “He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.”
Who was I about honoring? Myself or God? Clearly, my heart often desires that I be honored.
In John 8, Jesus was speaking to the Jews when He said, “If I glorify Myself, My glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the One who glorifies Me.” (v. 54)
I desire to be a follower of Jesus Christ. To imitate Him in my life. Yet Jesus’ whole focus was to glorify His Father. Jesus did an incredible work–He sacrificed all of Himself!–yet His desire in doing this work was always to bring glory to God. What a challenge this is to me: to imitate Jesus.
As the suffering of the cross drew near Jesus’ humanity was evident as He prayed to God, “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. “Father, glorify your name!” (John 12:27-28)
This work that Jesus did on my behalf was a work that was filled with pain and suffering. Yet, for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame. His eyes were focused on His Father knowing that He gave Him this work and He wanted to honor and glorify Him through this work.
These words in John have made me think each morning,
“Am I following Jesus in this life?
Can I look at suffering and pain, and find joy because my enduring these with joy bring glory and honor to my Father?
Do I want God to get credit no matter what I do, or am I willing to steal from Him what is rightly His?”
I want to daily remember the example of Jesus, and to be able to say with Him, “I have brought You glory on earth by completing the work You gave Me to do.” (John 17:4)