Let’s start today’s thought with a few quotes from the Scriptures:
I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another
If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already
Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake
I will not give my glory unto another
These thoughts today are addressed to those who stand behind pulpits; not only pastors, but evangelists, staff members, and perhaps deacons. It can also apply to those who give testimonies, but guest speakers in pulpits are by far the worst offenders.
I have been in many, many conferences and have heard guest speakers in various churches, and I’m a little tired of hearing them go on and on for 10-20 minutes about how wonderful the pastor is; how wonderful the church is; how wonderful the people are… but they have almost nothing to say about how wonderful God is. If they say anything, they say “God’s been good to me” – five words. That’s it. And yet, they can go on eloquently how wonderful the pastor is, and how he is unusually blessed of God, etc, and so forth for many long minutes. It gives the impression that they feel that they must do this in order to be invited back again. This is the kind of behavior I’m used to seeing in the world of business, but not in a church that is (supposedly) founded to glorify God.
Some staff members apparently think it is their duty to exalt the pastor; and that is false – your PRIMARY duty is to glorify God through your position (that is the primary duty of all Christians). If a man is worthy of praise, go ahead and praise him – but don’t give that man a hundreds words of praise, and then all you can say about God is “God has been very good to me”.
I’m afraid that exalting and praising God is a lost practice; when most people praise the Lord, they do it by listing the good, great, or miraculous things that He has done for them. But God is still worthy of our praise even if He didn’t do anything good, great, or miraculous for us. One problem with listing the unusual good things that God has done for you is that it can create the impression in the minds of the people listening to you that YOU are the special one (more spiritual than others, perhaps?) because of what God does for you that He has not done for others.
Maybe a couple of examples will help clear up what I’m trying to say:
#1) God has been so very good to me; the other day, I took my car to get inspected, and discovered that it needed new tires. That was going to cost me several hundred dollars that I didn’t have. I laid the problem before God, and that very day I received a check from a church I had preached in last year – enough to cover the need! Praise the Lord!
#2) God is awesome in His majesty and in His holiness. But I thank Him tonight for His equally amazing mercy and grace. He had no cause to reach down and save me; I have no merit of my own; nothing to recommend myself to Him. But He took the time and trouble to gather me to Himself. When I have been in trouble and distress and not knowing what to do or where to go, He put His loving arms around me and let me know that He loves me.
The first testimony is very common these days. Let’s be honest, however – these kind of things do not happen to most people. As much as it attempts to glorify God, it seems to also be sending the message: “see how important I am to God? He takes care of expenses for me (that he doesn’t take care of for you)”
Certainly the Bible says to give honor to whom honor is due, and the position of a pastor is worthy of honor; I am not trying to detract from that at all. However, we should never honor and exalt any man more than we exalt the God of all the ages, the living, holy, and true God. If you can talk about how great your pastor is for ten minutes, you should be able to talk about how great God is for at least double that time.
Related to this are the so-called testimonies that I have heard and (sorry to say) that I have given… they often begin with six words that purport to glorify God: “I thank God for my salvation”, and then it veers into either something unusually good that God has done for them, or (worse) into a praise of the church, or the pastor, or some other church member. Salvation is a wonderful gift from a loving, kind, and merciful heavenly Father, and we SHOULD thank Him for it… but He deserves much better than “I thank Him for saving me”.
Let us determine to give Him the glory He deserves!