Theme of the Week: Redefining Greatness
Bible Verse: “for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.” John 12:43 ESV
Scripture Reading: Matthew 6:1-4, John 12:20-43
In previous generations, most people felt that it was enough to put in an honest day’s work and provide for their family or contribute in some quiet way to their community. In those eras, most folks felt there was a dignity to that simple, everyday existence. Today, more than half of young people report that being famous is one of their top personal goals.1
When young children feel they are doing something special, they will say, “Look at me!” Adults don’t say, “Look at me!” but inwardly we do say, “Notice me.” We want to be recognized. Though this desire may be self-centered and vain, it is also part of what it means to be a human being, made in the image of God.
When Jesus says we are not to parade our good deeds or accomplishments before others, but rather to live before an audience of one (Matthew 6:1–4), he is not denying our natural desire to be noticed—he is simply redirecting it. Jesus teaches us to live for the applause of our Father in heaven.
Of course, living for the applause of our Father in heaven is no small victory, since our natural instinct is to desire the praise of people more than the praise of God (John 12:43). But if we live for the approval of people, we will discover a gaping void in our hearts, because we can never get enough affirmation, and whatever human approval we do receive will leave us feeling emptier and emptier.
If we are living for the applause of people, we will also discover that someone else is receiving louder or longer applause. When we compare ourselves to others, we will feel envious and miserable; comparing leads to despairing. But if we live for the applause of our Father in heaven, who cherishes us, we will find that his affirmation nourishes us, fills us, and sustains us far longer than human acclaim. As we live for the approval of God alone, we become full and free.
When we compare ourselves to others, we will feel envious and miserable; comparing leads to despairing.
Taken from Survival Guide for the Soul by Ken Shigematsu, Copyright © 2018 by Ken Shigematsu. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com
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