“Earlier this morning,” Stan commented, “I was reading in the Book of Acts and I was reminded of two essential things about my faith walk. One I am to do and one I am not to do.”
“One to do and one not to do,” I repeated. “What were you reading?”
“It was about two of the apostles, Paul and Barnabas, who were in Antioch working with the early church. A lot of great things were happening, but as is likely whenever people are involved in anything, a dispute arose.”
“I’ve seen that lots of times,” I replied, “as soon as good things are happening in the church, Satan tries to cause some problems. Is that what was going on?”
“I don’t know about Satan’s involvement in this instance,” Stan said, “but you’re right. Satan just hates it when good things are happening with the church and just loves to cause division.”
“In this instance,” he continued, “there were a lot of Gentiles who were coming to faith, and some of the Jewish believers wanted to require that the Gentile believers be circumcised before they could be ‘real Christians’.”
“A little legalism can go a long way in causing a problem,” I commented. “It’s kind of like belief in Jesus alone is not enough. Some people are always saying there has to be more.”
“You’re right,” Stan replied, “but that’s another story for another day. The point here I want to talk about has to do with how Paul and Barnabas handled the situation in the right way, and how too often my tendency is to do it wrong.”
“This was a big issue between the Jewish believers and the Gentiles who were coming to faith,” Stan replied. “The matter was so big, in fact, that Paul and Barnabas made their way to Jerusalem to talk with the elders and leaders about the question.”
“It wasn’t something they wanted to decide on their own,” I commented.
“That’s right,” Stan said, “and it’s how Paul and Barnabas handled the situation in Jerusalem that’s important for me to remember.”
“What’d they do?” I asked.
“They reported on all the great things going on in the church in Antioch,” Stan replied. “And they pointed directly at what God was doing, not anything they were doing on their own.”
“Oh,” I said, “they didn’t pat themselves on the back and point to themselves for the great things that were happening. Is that it?”
“Exactly,” Stan replied, “and if I’m not careful, my tendency is to take credit for what God is doing. I tend to think too highly of myself and think abut how God must be really pleased with what I’m doing for Him.”
“Versus what?” I asked.
“Giving God all the credit for whatever He’s doing in and through me.” Stan said. “All for him; none for me.”
“Seems to me,” he continued that my role is to be surrendered to what God wants to do. If He wants to say, ‘Well done,’ I’m okay with that, but I don’t think it’s my role to point to myself and say anything about what I have done for God. I am to be a conduit for whatever He wants to do, and I am to give Him all the credit.”
Bible verses to consider:
And when they arrived at Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. Acts of the Apostles 15:4.
And when they had arrived and gathered the church together, they began to report all things that God had done with them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. Acts of the Apostles 14:27.
And all the multitude kept silent, and they were listening to Barnabas and Paul as they were relating what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. Acts of the Apostles 15:12.
I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:5.
For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. Romans 12:3.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, that you want to do your will and your work in and through me. I confess that too often I want to take personal credit for what you are doing. Please forgive the foolishness of trying to exalt myself by taking any credit for what you do. Please help me in denying myself and in setting aside my self-focus and desire to be recognized by others. Help me in giving you all of the credit, honor, and glory for what you are doing. All for you, none for me. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Think on this: Do you believe you cannot enter into God’s eternal presence by anything you do other than accept His free and gracious gift of life eternally with Him when it’s time? If you do believe that, have you accepted that gift? If no, why? If you are a Christian, how are you doing with giving God all of the credit, honor, and glory for whatever He chooses to do in and through you? If you sense there may be a need for change in how you give all credit to God, and take none for yourself, how is that change going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?