Several years ago I undertook to deliver the eulogy at the funeral of my dear mother-in-law, reading a series of descriptions of her life, some of which she had written herself, and some which were edited by family members and myself. It was a solemn responsibility and I prayed earnestly beforehand that I would do justice to the memory of a very special lady.
As I stood at the lectern in a large room of people, all of whose eyes were on me, I began my reading with a certain degree of nervousness. As it was quite a long eulogy, after a while I found myself relaxing. I will always remember a moment, when, somewhere in the midst of the reading, I found myself thinking that it was proceeding according to plan and almost began to enjoy the fact that I had the rapt attention of everyone (after all it was a funeral and they could hardly mutter amongst themselves or look out of the window, could they?) Afterwards I received some kind words regarding my portion of the proceedings.
I will always remember the feeling that swept over me during that delivery, because it taught me a valuable lesson. I believe that God showed me clearly how easily those who are involved in ministry, especially any form of ministry in front of a group and particularly on a stage, can be tempted and seduced into prideful ways of thinking and behaving. How easily we can usurp the glory intended for God alone. When we are doing God’s work, we use the skills and talents He has given us. We are enabled with opportunities that He provides. He resources and anoints us with His Holy Spirit. Yet when we succeed, we want to take the credit. We’ve done great things for God? No, in fact, a great God has used us for His purposes.
Paul reminds us of this fact in several verses of 2 Corinthians chapter 4:
“we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. (v2)
For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. (v5)
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. (v6)
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (v7).
The Bible tells us that Satan became obsessed with his own beauty and pride and began to place himself above his Creator:
“You said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God” (Isaiah 14:13)
“Your heart was proud because of your beauty;
you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.” (Ezekiel 28:17)
The result was that Satan was cast away from Heaven and similarly Adam and Eve, who were tempted by Satan to become as gods, were cast away from relationship with the one true God. Human pride in our own abilities denies our need for God’s anointing and provision and separates us from Him.
God does not share His glory, that of the divine trinity, with any other:
“I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols.”
When we witness or minister to others it’s not a performance, but rather a commission each Christian is given to extend God’s kingdom through whatever relationships, situations and tasks, great or small that He has entrusted to us. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit we have tremendous inner power to influence others who see the beauty and wisdom of Christ in us. It’s our task to remember from whom this power derives and to reflect any kudos we incur back to the One worthy of all our praises.