“He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the one who sent Him, He is true…” (John 7:18 NAS).
“…there is nothing false about him” (John 7:18 NIV).
With one eye on his sermon, and one eye on the old wise minister sitting in the first row, the young minister strove to produce a good impression on his older and wiser friend. Once the evangelistic meeting was over, he quickly walked up to the aged minister, and with an apparent air of self- congratulation and subtle pride, not to mention a feeling of having preached really well, he asked how he fared. The aged minister fired a sweeping retort that proved very valuable, although at the time disheartening, to the young preacher. “How many people came to the Lord?” the aged minister asked.
The lesson was as obvious as the answer to the question. None were saved that night. The young man’s falsehood was exposed. He was more interested in his sermon than his subjects. He was more interested in how he fared than how many were saved. He was seeking his own glory rather than the glory of the One who sent him.
A young group of Bible school students left the seminar frustrated because their desire to hear the deeper truths of the Bible expounded by the old prophet of God seemed to be denied. They just didn’t understand why the old, experienced man of God didn’t delve deeper into the Word of God.
“Maybe he’s just getting too old to preach,” they thought. “Or maybe he’s just not studying and praying as much as he should.” But the truth was that the older minister purposefully made himself look less intelligent and “lacking depth” to the public eye so that the simple in attendance that evening could understand him.
The old prophet of God was more interested in relating to his audience than receiving applause. He was more interested in appealing to his needy subjects rather than appeasing his greedy fans. His teaching originated from God and not from himself. He was true.
Any word spoken or act done in falsehood, no matter how acclaimed it is by public opinion, will not receive honor from God. I do not use ministry examples to expose, bring suspicion, or breed mistrust concerning ministers. Neither is it to cause you to doubt every minister that comes down the pike. Thank God there are many honest, pure-hearted, and upright ministers still in the land. As a matter of fact, I believe the number of them is growing. Only God alone knows the true motives of every man’s heart. Every individual must examine his own heart. Every minister must search his own motives.
There’s no need to look for something that’s not there, either. You can’t keep tormenting yourself and doubting every single thing you or others do. However, we must also understand that the most deceiving words and acts are those covered and cloaked with the name of the Lord, and done under the guise of ministry, charity, and religion.
Jesus and the New Testament writers warned of false prophets and false teachers. These foundations were the first of many things Jesus taught (Mat. 5-7). People often only know ministers by the visible fruit of their ministries, but God knows us by the fruit of our lives. We are known and will be judged more by the fruit of our lives than by the fruit of our ministries (Mat 7:20, 22). The latter is only an outflow of the former. What is more important to you, being successful in public or being successful in private?
I have often wondered in my own ministry how much merit I will receive for all the words and works I’ve said and done in the name of Jesus. It has caused me to reflect on how much has really been accomplished purely for the glory and honor of God and out of a genuine love for the people. You could say I’ve done a lot of reflecting, and a lot of repenting. Our own hearts can so easily deceive us if we’re not careful.
Let us seek to be true, beholding the glory of the Lord and not of ourselves (2 Cor. 3:18).