“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father." (Matthew 5:13-16 NLT)
It's there in everyone -- that yearning for approval, the longing to be something. It's almost lik ean insatiable thirst in each and every one of our hearts, a gnawing hunger, an inextinguishable fire. We want to be approved, and that need for approval causes us to search and steal glory for ourselves.
We wear our Christian teeshirts and listen to our worship music and go to church every Sunday and do all the "right" things, but why? Why do we strive so much to do the right things? Is it really to honor God, or is it because we can't stand that bruising feeling of guilt when we mess up, the shame that never pulls its punches, the anxiety that beats on us until we're curled in a ball on the bathroom floor, beaten and bloody and just ready for the end? Are we really doing all the "right things" to glorify God? Or are we simply doing it to make sure that we don't lose our good reputation?
These questions are on my mind day in and day out as i evaluate my every move, my every thought, my every feeling, and the reason behind all of it. I'm constantly on high alert, looking behind every corner of my heart to find a monster, all the while ignoring the one that's been attached to my hip since my first breath, hoping and praying that maybe God will ignore it, too. It's exhausting. And I can't help but think that my pursuit of perfection is actually the result of a selfish heart that doesn't want to give God His rightful throne.
I tell others about Jesus, but if I'm really honest, I don't always do it because I care about them or about giving God glory. (I know, I'm a terrible human being.) I am the salt of the earth because I know that's what I'm supposed to be. But does being the salt of the earth only for my glory mean that I've lost my flavor? I think it does.
I help others in their times of trouble and try to be a lighthouse when they're shadowed by darkness, but sometimes I just do it because that's what's expected of me. I am a city on a hill and the light of the world to draw attention to myself, not God.
To quote Jesus, what good is that????
I may be able to gain others' approval and praise, but have I really gained anything? What good have I done? None. My efforst are worthless. My striving means nothing. If it is not for God's glory, it is meaningless.
When I try to shine light to put a spotlight on myself, not God, I'm hiding God's glory under a basket. I'm robbing Him of His glory. I am robbing people of knowing who God really is, seeing Him in all His goodness. Because I'm too busy pointing at myself.
Friend, I don't want to be one of those people who looks only to myself, only cares about myself, and I sure AS HECK don't want to be robbing God. That's bad mojo.
I do not want to:
- dress to bring attention to myself
- utter words that praise myself
- act in a way that puts me in the spotlight
- work to show off my worth
- try to prove my capabilities
- ponder on what others think of me
- let the enemy talk me into measuring my value (I shouldn't even measure it if God has already made it abundantly clear. I don't have to check God's math.)
- worry about the future
- constantly think about my own failures and triumphs
Instead, I want to point to Jesus. I want to give Him all the glory that I possibly can, and then some. Because He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Because He is wrapped in love and righteousness and chose to pull me out of my brokenness and make me like Him. Because no matter how much I screw up or how far I run, He's there. Right by my side, always and forever.
He is worthy of all the glory.
In what ways am I stealing God's glory? What do I need to work on? How can I give God all the glory? Am I hiding His light so that I can shine my own? Have I lost my flavor in a pursuit of perfection?
What is the Holy Spirit saying to me through this?
Father, my King, you are worthy of all praise. You are matchless and powerful in your name. You are goodness and kindness wrapped in one. Your love knows no bounds, and you shower it on me every moment of every day, though I don't deserve it. You are worthy, Jesus. Thank you for being all that you are.
Lord, I pray that we will not be a selfish people. I pray for a killing of the fleshly sin in us, a breakthrough even if it means breaking. I ask that you give us eyes to see and ears to hear, so that we will not continue in sin. Convict us, and set us free. Let your Holy Spirit flood our hearts and souls, purifying us and making us like you. We don't want to steal your glory. We don't want to rob you of your praise. You deserve it all. Forgive us for our pride. Forgive us for stealing from you. Forgive us for loving ourselves and not you.
Forgive me for not giving you the praise that you deserve, Lord. Work in me, and remind me of your worthiness when I am tempted to point to myself. Remind me of who you are when I lose sight. Remind me of where I would be without you. Help me to shine so that others can see you. Remind me to do the "right things" out of a reverent love for you, not religious need. Help me love you, and thank you so much for loving me. To you be the glory, forever and ever. Amen.