As believers we know that our goal is to not make much of ourselves but to make much of Jesus. At the root of all sin is this desire to be independent from God and live for our own glory. Or to put it another way, at the root of all sin is a belief that we know better than the creator of the world and would prefer to live by our own standards for our own glory. We truly are a me and we generation. We are quick to point out in our churches and ministries that we are very self-centered, we think the opposite of that is to be we-centered or community centered. If I can't have it my way as an individual maybe I can find a group of people that want to have it the same way I do and call it good. Regardless of how we flesh our sin out, individually or corporately, this is not my main thoughts today. The bottom line is that we are to be about lifting up God's name and living according to his kingdom, not lifting up our names and living according to our kingdoms.
We see in Matthew 6:1-6 that the desire and goal of many as they give to the needy and pray is to be seen by others. God says that they receive their reward! What is their reward? They wanted people to see them, and that is what happened. They want to use the world and people to make them feel special and important by looking spiritual and together.
But, for the believers our reward is not received now, but later. Yes, we have Jesus now and this is enough right. Right, but we long to have and know him in full and this will happen when we see him face to face on that great day of death. Just like we know that our sin has been dealt with, we long for the day where we sin no longer. Reward is always a strange thing for me to grasp. What can I possibly do in and of myself to deserve a reward? I don't think I will ever receive a reward or crown on my own. I also don't think that as a body of believers in great community we can achieve this future reward either...that we would be able to look to Jesus together and say hey look how we lived...give us our reward. But, I do believe that Jesus has earned the reward for us and as we individually and corporately live in faith by grace according to his kingdom rules we will, because of Jesus, certainly one day receive this reward. I personally think that this reward is seeing our savior individually and as a community.
The immediate and fading reward for the self-righteous was being seen. They receive "their" reward.
The prolonged and eternal reward for the believer is seeing Jesus face to face. I may be pushing this too far but...we receive reward...the word here does not say "your" reward.
The world is but provision for the saints, it is their spending money; but it is pay to hypocrites, it is their portion. Matthew Henry
The drive for the self-righteous is our name, fame, kingdoms, and agendas.
The drive for the righteous in Jesus is God's name, fame, kingdom, authority and agenda.
The self-righteous receive the reward of being seen but miss seeing Jesus for eternity.
The believer may miss the applause of men but will clap their hands forever with joy.
As I pray, I am to see how much of a privileged it is that the magnificent one is my Father. I pray out of a need to know him and see him more. I pray to ask him for everything I need to minister and love those around me. I pray, not so others can see me and know me more. Prayers create movement. My prayers do not move God's hand but God moves my hands away from "my crown" and leads me to depend on him to work for his name's sake in all my relationships. True prayer is at the core a stepping away from self and a resting in God's promises by talking to him about them, him, and everything else.
Practical questions for me.
How do I use this blog, social media, and my life? Do I use it for his name and kingdom or mine? Do I use it to love myself or love others? I'm I more concerned with how many hits I receive per post than I am for possibly encouraging someone? When someone stops following me on twitter do I feel like my empire is shrinking or am I content with being encouraged by those I am following and hopefully encourage my "followers".
Unfortunately, in some circles foreign missionaries are considered to be high up on the holy ladder...right under the VBS directors who are on top...sorry that was bad. Those of us on the foreign field know the truth full well...we are losers saved by grace in Christ. But, I often forget this and desire for others to see me for my sake? I did not have to deal with this as much as a youth pastor because we are automatically humbled right when we visit someone in the hospital and they ask for one of the "real pastors." As youth pastors we also try to fight for our name, glory and kingdoms but often from a bottom up proving kind of way. My point here is that all the proving we do for the sake of earthy reward is stupid. My reward from others as a missionary is received now...we are praised often. How do I receive this? We are to encourage one another, but I should always be aware of the traps of vain-glory. My worth is not based on how much praise I receive or do not receive from man. With all that said, encourage your church's youth pastor today. Don't worry, if they were in it for the praise of adults they would have checked out after the first month. Our problems as youth pastors in this area is often a need to feel important from the students and our pastor and co-workers...that is another post for another time.
How do we love other churches and ministries well in light of this? Sometimes I wish churches would just say what they are really trying to say. "Our kingdom over here is better than all other church kingdoms out there. We do things better, other ministries are really stupid." "Did you come from a bad church, welcome...ours is good". I know that is silly, but it only takes a minute to see how self focused a church or ministry is. I have been and am guilty of this. Right doctrine, thoughts, values, leadership structure and right methods do not make one right with God. We are to always point to him and live according to his kingdom rules. As we do, we will display love to the world and other churches, not pride.
How do I love my family according to this? This is where I believe my name and kingdom building shows up the clearest. May I love my wife and daughter more than myself. May I find my worth not in their approval...that I so long for...but may I find my worth in Jesus. Once I am freed from depending on being loved well by my family and once I see that I am completely love by God I can then live for his name and kingdom in my home. This will free me to love well!
May God's name be hallowed not mine nor ours.