Give God the Glory
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They had been at these noon meetings for four days now, and it didn’t often happen that they had such an opportunity for self-examination. They hadn’t often had such a heart-moving and such an overturning of themselves. It should trouble them, this question should, why God didn’t use Christians more.
They’d had this thought before them all the week. Now, what was the motive they had? Was it God’s glory or their own they were working for? Was it Christ’s name or their own? The longer he lived the more he was convinced that the greatest enemy he had was spiritual pride. The soul that wasn’t renewed had enough of pride, God knew; but when it came to the Christian, he had it too. It was spiritual pride. He wanted all this rubbish in the heart cleared away. They’d got to live in the power of God, and feel the truth of the hymn “Oh, to be nothing!”
The subject he’d read, he said, was in the tenth chapter of first Corinthians, and at the thirty-first verse: “Do all to the glory of God.” They’d got to get self out of the way. They’d got to feel just as the apostle did when he wrote this. Whatever they did had to be done to the glory of God. How quick God would come into their hearts when they got self out of the way.
In another place Paul says that Christians are not to give this glory to men. They had got to empty themselves of self, and come to Him. They weren’t fountains, they’re only channels the streams flowed through; they weren’t [gas] light, but merely the pipes the gas came through. John the Baptist was only “a voice” in the wilderness. And when Elijah was under the juniper-tree he got to be jealous and wanted to die, and said he wasn’t any better than his father. It was the same with Jonah. He couldn’t do anything until he let God use him just as He wanted to. It wasn’t the glory of God he was seeking. They had got to get out of self, then it would be easy enough for God to use them.
It seems strange that twelve men had been with Jesus for three whole years and yet hadn’t got out of self. But they hadn’t. In the ninth chapter of Mark at the thirty-first verse we read that He told his disciples that he’d have to be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be killed, and then rise again, on the third day. They could not understand Him, and were afraid to ask Him. But a little further on, Mark says, when they got to Capernaum Jesus asked His disciples why they disputed on the way, and then, when they were silent, He told them that they’d been talking about who’d be the greatest. Then Jesus taught them humility. They were ashamed of themselves. This was why they did not speak when He asked them.
He prayed God would make each one ashamed of himself. They might have an unholy ambition. It was their own glory, not Christ’s, they were looking after and thinking of. “Who should be the greatest?”
He put a little child where they could see it in their midst. Jesus wanted to show them their sin and folly – John wasn’t humble enough, and yet was the most loving. They might be jealous because they didn’t belong to some clique or party. They shouldn’t have any such feeling.
Then again, in the tenth chapter of Mark, at the thirty-third verse, He had to reprove the same thing. He was now coming to the cross, Jesus was, and His heart was sorrowful, and He was on His way up to Jerusalem. James and John came to Him in the midst of all this, and after He had been talking about His suffering – how He’d be killed and cast out. These two disciples nearest to him wanted to sit, the one on His right hand, the other on His left in the kingdom. This is what comes in the churches when there are strifes among the brethren. And even at His death, in the twenty-second chapter of Luke, nineteenth verse, when He was at the last supper, the disciples were again discussing who should be greatest. Here we had it in a Baptist minister, going across the way to see how a Methodist minister was getting on. He didn’t “thank God” for the work; until they were ready to do that they wouldn’t be vessels fit for the Master’s use. They hadn’t got deep enough yet. They must be emptied of self. God must show them the sins that clustered around their hearts. Could they rejoice when God blessed someone else? Then they had got down where God wanted them. If it was God’s glory they were after, all will be willing to be nothing.