Saturday, October 15, 2016

Seeking Glory from God

Thou Art Worthy by Charity Lacroix
Dear God-seekers,

From whom are you seeking praise and honor? Is it from men or from God? The Lord taught about this in a discourse with the Jews recorded in the fifth chapter of John's gospel. He said:

"I do not receive glory from men; but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?" (Joh 5:41-44)

To begin with, let's focus on two phrases. He said, "I do not receive glory from men," and "you receive glory from one another."  In order to correctly understand these statements, we need to define a coupe of key words first. In this passage, the Greek word for "glory" is "doxa" meaning "glory, honor, praise, or worship." So some translations use the word "praise". Moreover, the word "receive" is a bad translation on the part of most English translations, and the use of the word "accept" in the NASB is just as inadequate. The Greek word is "lambano" meaning "strive to obtain, reach after, take, lay hold of, get, get back." It is not a passive word.

Therefore, when Jesus said, "I do not receive glory from men" (Joh 5:41), He meant He did not strive to obtain or reach after honor from men. He also said, "But I do not seek My glory; there is One who seeks and judges." (Joh 8:50). Even though He is worthy of glory, He still did not seek it for Himself, but the Father sought it. And Jesus sought to bring glory to the Father. He explained, "If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, 'He is our God'." (Joh 8:54)

One example of Jesus not seeking the honor of men was when they decided to make Him their king. "Therefore when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, 'This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.' So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone." (Joh 6:14-15). He withdrew to a solitary place, so that they could not accomplish what they wanted to do. He came to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many (Mt 20:28), not to be made king on earth by men and die a natural death. He was already a King, but His kingdom was and still is from another world (Joh 18:36-37). His Kingdom is a secret kingdom. He first had to suffer and be rejected by men before He was glorified (Lk 9:22; 17:25; Mk 8:31).

However, He did accept it when it was appropriate, such as the time when the little children were praising Him. "As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, shouting: 'Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!' Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, 'Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.' But Jesus answered, 'I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!'" (Luk 19:37-40). He also accepted honor from His disciples. For He said, "You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am." (Joh 13:13, NIV). For example, there was the occasion when Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven." (Mat 16:16-17). So we see that Jesus did accept glory, honor, and praise from men, however, He did not strive to obtain it.

On the contrary, the Jews, especially the Pharisees, sought after and strove to obtain praise from one another. They enjoyed the praises of men. They loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God (Joh 12:43). The Greek word for "approval" in this verse is the same word "doxa" meaning glory. In fact the English Revised Version translates that verse to say, "For they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God." Jesus indicated some of the ways they sought glory, honor, praise, and approval from men, rather than that which comes from God, when He said, "They love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called 'Rabbi' by others." (Mt 23:7, NIV). They did not seek the glory that is from the only God (Joh 5:44). The word "seek" is "zeteo" meaning "seek, seek for, seek after, aim at, strive, after, desire, crave, demand something."

We must not seek to obtain, strive after, or try to get praise from men (1 Thes 2:6). "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full." (Mt 6:2, NIV). If you strive after honor from men, you have already received your reward in full, and there will be no reward in heaven for you. "We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts." (1 Thes 2:4b, NIV). "If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." (Gal 1:10b, NIV). Jesus told the Jews that did not receive Him (Joh 5:43) that their seeking of honor from men was a hindrance that was keeping them from believing in Him. He said, "How can you believe" when you do that? (Joh 5:44). You cannot be a servant of Christ and seek to gain honor from men or to be a man pleaser.

As with the Jewish religious leaders of Christ's day, titles are still one way that men today seek to obtain honor from men. In my article, Visitation of Jesus to Samuel Oghenetega, I reported that the Lord gave a warning to those answering to big titles. He said, "Preach the Truth or else you will be cast into the bottomless put. Tell those answering with big titles like Bishop, Archbishop, Most Reverend, Reverend, Right Reverend, I don’t know them by that. I know them by their name and their works." (see Matthew 23:8-10). Our "Senior Pastor" is the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Pe 5:4), as I wrote in my article, Our Senior Pastor. Nobody else truly deserves to be called by that title.

When people seek honor from men, it keeps them from obeying God. That's why Peter and John did not pay attention to the Jewish Sanhedrin council, when they ordered the apostles to stop preaching in the name of Jesus. Peter said, “We must obey God rather than men." (Ac 5:29).

On the other hand, King Herod is an example of a man pleaser. He "laid hands on some who belonged to the church in order to mistreat them. And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword. When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also." (Ac 12:1b-3a). Herod's desire for praise from men ultimately cost him his life. "On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, 'This is the voice of a god, not of a man.' Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died." (Ac 12:21-23, NIV). Governor Felix was another one like that. He left Paul imprisoned as a favor to the Jews (Ac 24:27). Governor Festus was the same way, wishing to do the Jews a favor (Ac 25:9). Governor Pilate was another example of a man pleaser, agreeing to have the Lord crucified to satisfy the crowd, even though he knew Jesus was innocent (Mk 15:15). There are plenty of examples of those who seek the praise of men, rather than the glory of God. But this must not be so in the Church.

We must make every effort to obtain glory from the only God. We must seek after and strive for honor from Him. "To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life." (Rom 2:7, NIV). We seek the glory not of ourselves, but of the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We seek to glorify God. We must do everything for the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31). And in the end He will glorify us in His presence. We will share in the glory of Christ, if we share in His sufferings now (Rom 8:17).

If anyone honors us or praises us, we need to deflect it to God and not accept it for ourselves. What do we have that we did not receive? (1 Cor 4:7). We have no reason to be proud or take any credit, since all that we have comes from Him. Any gifts, talents, or abilities we have all come from His hand. Every good and perfect gift comes from above, flowing down from the Father of the heavenly lights (James 1:17). We can do nothing apart from Jesus (Joh 15:5). Anything good you see in me is Jesus, and all the mistakes are mine. We say, "Not to us, LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness." (Ps 115:1). But, "Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord." (1 Cor 1:31; 2 Cor 10:17). He alone deserves all the praise, all the glory, and all the honor. He alone is worthy. "Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen." (Php 4:20). "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen." (Rom 11:36)

Attribution notice: Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, except where otherwise noted. Other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, unless otherwise noted. The "Thou Art Worthy" illustration is by my daughter, Charity Lacroix. You may find more of her lovely artwork at A Brush with Life.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like For the Glory of God Alone, The Light and the Glory, Whatever You Do, Do All Like This, Pleasing the Lord, Success in God's Eyes, Having a Servant's Heart, Holy Living in a Perverted World, The Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer, Seeing Jesus, Loving Him, Character and Glory, Walking in the Perfect Will of God, One Thing, Our Senior Pastor, Ask for the Ancient Paths, Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God, Living a Life Worthy of the Lord, Aim for Perfection, and The Wardrobe of the Saints. I highly recommend reading Visitation of Jesus to Samuel Oghenetega, Only the Holy -- Three Shocking Testimonies and Holy Fire Baptism. You may find the Main Directory for this blog at Home, and also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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