May I propose to you that it is only in understanding and employing this concept- becoming less– that we ever truly meet with God and His Will for our lives? In fact, it is only through the humbling of one’s self that a true surrender to God is possible in the first place. I and God cannot both be seated on the Single Throne of my life. I must surrender my will to His- only then will He take up residence in my heart and mind, and begin directing me in the Way I should go.
Make no mistake- we are glorious creatures, fearfully and wonderfully made by the hand of God (Psalm 139:14). Made in His Magnificent Image (Gen 1:27), we are fully equipped to do the good works He prepared in advance for us to do (Eph 2:10), and we do marvelous things as we strive for excellence (Col 3:23)! – And herein lies the danger. – In beholding our amazing selves, abilities, potential, progress, accomplishments, we are continually presented with the most titillating temptation- to acknowledge Self instead of God. This is especially challenging for those of us trying to “make a name for ourselves,” perhaps most challenging for those who have already succeeded in doing so. Though I have not personally been conspicuous about this desire, I must confess there have been many times in my life that I was on some level working hard to make a name for myself- desiring that people see me a certain way and think well of me. I still struggle with this. You may say, well what’s wrong with that?…God says to win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man, just as Jesus did–
“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.” – Prov 3:3-4
But if you read these verses carefully, you will see that favor and a good name have nothing to do with Self-glorification; rather, they are the direct result of a heart of love and faithfulness to the Living God- they are designed for GOD-glorification. Lest we think our good works are meant to glorify anyone but God Himself, Peter makes it clear in his words to the Christians in Asia Minor —
“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” – 1 Pet 2:12
Glorify GOD on the day he visits us. As we mature in our walk with God, in fact our lives will reflect less Self and more Christ, our glorification turning from inward outward. Imprint this perfect illustration in your mind.–
Certainly this is the antithesis of what today’s society teaches us with its daily injections of “Becoming More,” and weaning off all dosages of Christ. Most people find it convenient to fill society’s popular prescription of Me, Myself and I-There is no other. Yet, God says this–
“I am The Lord [YHWH], and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.” – Isa 45:5
Yes, we do set ourselves up as gods when we focus on our Selves alone- and as the light begins to turn on to us in all our glory, we glance downward to find that we have managed to position ourselves on the Throne where God Alone belongs. And we may wonder, how on earth did that happen?? Answer: The titillating temptation to glorify Self instead of the God Who made us.
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was a perfect example of this. God had given him dominion, power and glory and placed mankind and all beasts and birds under his rule. King Nebuchadnezzar was “king of kings” on earth- he had everything a man could possibly want and more. But even when the he began having troubling dreams and Daniel’s interpretation revealed God’s grave prophetic warning about consequences of his pride, the King continued to glorify him Self, seeking more, even erecting an image of gold that all should bow down to or be thrown into a blazing furnace. Yet even after witnessing God’s Hand rescue Daniel’s friends from the blazing fire the King threw them into, and then actually praising God as the “only One who could save,” the King continued to refer to Daniel as Belteshazzar (the name of Nebuchadnezzar’s “god”) and spoke of Daniel as having the “spirit of the holy gods” (yes, plural!). Finally, God gave the King a dream about a tree, which Daniel interpreted for him, warning the King that he would be driven from his people and assume the mind and habits of a wild animal unless he acknowledged that God Alone was the Most High Sovereign over all. Daniel advised the King to humble himself, yet even 12 months later the King instead stood on the roof of his Royal Palace in the city of incomparable indulgence and uttered these words-
“Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” (Dan 4:30)
I built! MY power! MY majesty! Wow!! The power and deception of pride! While these words were still on the King’s lips, God humbled him exactly as He described. Yet even after all of this, in His Great Mercy, God restored the King- receiving the praise and glory from him that belonged to God all along. Here are the final words documented from the lips of King Nebuchadnezzar:
“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” (Dan 4:37)
The King had learned that firsthand!
Yes, everything we are and have is from God’s Hand, as apostle James asserted.—
“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” – Jam 1:16-17
Jesus put it this way–
“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:4-5
Apart from me you can do nothing. Apart from me there is no God. I AM and there is no other! Jesus’s beloved apostle John understood this. He knew that though he, John, came before Jesus to baptize many with water- the Lamb of God would come after, in all of God’s glory, to baptize with the Holy Spirit. John likened himself to friend of the Bridegroom, not desiring to take the light off the Groom and on to himself, but full of joy at the Bridegroom’s arrival!–
“After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were coming and being baptized. (This was before John was put in prison.) An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.
To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.” – John 3:22-30
How this story would have been different if John had allowed the hoards of people flocking him for baptism to move his eyes off God and on to him Self. If he began thinking about his own name instead of God’s, accepting praise and honor on to him Self for what he was doing. What if John had allowed the argument about Jesus being seen baptizing with people flocking to Him to inspire envy or jealousy in himself? Would Jesus’s baptism even have taken place by John’s hands if- while in the water- John discovered that he had positioned him Self on the Throne of God Almighty?
Thankfully, the beloved apostle John knew- and announced for the generations to come- that Jesus must become greater and we must become less! If he hadn’t, then just as Satan took full advantage of Nebuchadnezzar’s pride, you can be sure he would have had a field day with John- as he has done every person created from the beginning of time who has allowed Pride to substitute Praise. Even in the Garden, Satan joyously turned the light from God onto Eve with the titillating temptation of Self-glorification. Moving from a posture of thankful trust and dependence on God Alone, Eve found herself desiring to “become more”- questioning God and His motives, wanting to know as much as God- inching her way onto His Throne. And we today carry on the prideful tradition. Dare I say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
But there is Hope for our prideful sin nature! There is an Antidote for the disease of Self-absorption! There is a Way Out to the temptation to believe “I am, and there is no other” — and that Hope is Jesus Christ! Hallelujah!, we have a Merciful Father with a Redemptive Remedy! Read carefully Paul’s words to Christians at Rome:
“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” – Rom 7:21-25
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” – Rom 8:1-4
And Paul’s affirmation to maintain a posture of sober judgement about ones Self–
“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” – Rom 12:3
Peter echoes Paul’s summons to Sobriety of Self, with a graphic visual of Satan’s desire-
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” – 1 Pet 5:8
Yes, Satan desires to make a meal of us- a headstone of our pride, and with it he will take us to the grave if we do not have Jesus Christ- our Sole Hope! Though many of us are unaware, Satan knows there is an ironic twist to this “becoming less” business of God’s. He knows that once we understand the Divine nature of this concept and trust God completely to employ it in our lives- that is when we by God’s Hand truly become more- our will submits to His and we get to experience God’s unfathomable Glory! For when we are humbled, face down before the Living God, prostrate before Him- the very “least” we could be- that is the moment God lifts us to our feet and exalts us with a Crown we could never gain on our own!—
“You save the humble, but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low.” – 2 Sam 22:28
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” – Matt 5:5
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” – 1 Cor 9:24-25
“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Cor 12:7b-10
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” – 2 Tim 4:7-8
“’God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’ [Prov 3:34] Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” – 1 Pet 5:5b-6
“I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.” – Rev 2:9-10
Dear Friends, If you find yourself flirting with thoughts of Self, impressed by what “you’ve” done or have, desiring MORE attention and things- STOP and Pray! You are on dangerous ground. The same ground that breeds quarrels, judging, even pity parties- this is the acreage of Pride owned and operated by Satan, designed to help you inch your way on to God’s Throne. The Throne is God’s and His Alone! He has made a Name for Himself, and there is NO OTHER NAME on earth or in heaven to which men must bow!–
“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Phil 2:9-11
Jesus Christ Alone is worthy of all praise and adoration! Humble yourself before Almighty God, and He will lift you up in due time! Fight the temptation of Pride and Self- Glorification- God has given you a Way out! Trust in Him- Flee from idolatry of Self!-
“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.” – 1 Cor 10:12-14
Pursue the Wisdom of BECOMING LESS, that Christ would BECOME MORE in you!!! For the Praise of His Glory, Nancy
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