1 Corinthians 4:1-21, Zephaniah 2:3, 1 Peter 5:5
On numerous occasions, people have told me that they reject the idea of an infinite God who does what He wants for His own glory. In response to such assertions, I sometimes say, “Well, we’re finite, and by nature, we want to do whatever we want for our own glory! Why would it be wrong for God—that being of which there is none greater—to seek His own glory?”
The sad reality of life in this fallen world is that we are all hungry for the applause of others. Scripture teaches us that we are either seeking the praise of men or the praise of God. This is an important recurrent theme in the letters from the apostle Paul, whose reputation was constantly demeaned by men who presented themselves to the members of the church as being “super apostles.” They sought to convince the Corinthian church that they were superior to Paul because of their credentials, gifts, and accomplishments, and they boasted in them constantly. In order to help the members of the church learn to think properly about who is truly approved by God, Paul taught a valuable lesson on stewardship.
The apostle constantly viewed himself as a steward in the house of God. He considered the ministry to which Christ had called him as something precious and entrusted to him. He wanted to be found faithful to carrying out the work of the gospel in the church and in the world. Paul was motivated by a desire to bring glory to God—not for himself to be praised by other men.
It is far too easy to start wanting to serve in the church or in ministry for the applause of men. We can do this very subtly. Many of us are skilled at what is known as the “humble-brag.” We may not appear to be overtly seeking the praise of men, but our desire to number the size and scope of our service shows that we are seeking it in more covert ways.
At the end of our lives, the only praise that will matter is that which comes from the only true and living God. “And then praise will come to each one” from Him (1 Corinthians 4:5). Everything about our lives right now is just scaffolding. Once the scaffolding is taken down at judgment day, God will reveal who He has approved as being a faithful steward, and who He has not.
As we look to the Lord Jesus, and labor to bring Him glory, we find we care less and less about the praise of men, and more and more about the praise that will come from our living God. May God give us grace to seek that praise continually. And may we seek to bring Him the glory for His mercy, grace, and goodness to us in Christ.
Written by Nick Batzig