Ministry: Glorifying God or Glorifying Self?

Ministry provides an interesting opportunity for believers to glorify themselves while appearing to serve God and His people. It’s amazing how subtle the pride and selfishness of our hearts can actually be. Finding our identity in anything or anyone other than God and His gospel work (on our behalf, for HIS glory not ours)–is idolatry, no matter how you slice it.

Robert Barnes, pastor of Dayspring Church, wrote a very insightful, self-evaluation about his tendency to glorify self rather than God:

“…My preaching and writing isn’t much better. Too often, communication is my way to demonstrate what the world should have understood already–that I am extremely smart and spiritual and worthy of being paid and admired. The words I’ve been called to write and speak often speak of humility, of God-sized truths that transcend our tiny space and time, and yet I see in my heart–and on the page–me writing words to glorify… ME!” [1]

The impetus for serving, teaching, preaching, or writing may be “self” rather than God; and yet God is merciful in glorifying Himself and providing our good even in the midst of our sin. Christ is the antidote for the poison of self, as the cross shows us God’s hatred for sin and His love for the sinner. He unleashed His wrath for our self-pity, self-entitlement, self-justification, and self-admiration upon His own beloved Son in order that we might be forgiven, by faith in Him. Talk about a self-less display of love and grace!! God glorifies Himself, even in the midst of our selfishness. Robert Murray M’Cheyne wrote: “For every look at self, take ten [no, a thousand] looks at Christ.” Treasuring Christ helps us to glorify God by proclaiming HIS worth (not our own)!! May we learn to use our spiritual gifts (that He gave us) to magnify His greatness, not our own.

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[1] Robert Barnes, “To Whom Be the Glory?” (You can read the entire article here!)

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