Vainglory

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. – Philippians 2:3‭‭

“Let nothing be done through vainglory‭.” The word here used —‭κενοδοζια‭ ‭kenodoxia‭, occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, though the adjective—‭κενοδοξος‭ ‭kenedoxos‭, occurs once in ‭Galations 5:26‭.  It means, properly, empty pride, or glory, and is descriptive of vain and hollow parade and show. The idea seems to be that of mere self–esteem; a mere desire to honor ourselves, to attract attention, to win praise, to make ourselves uppermost, or foremost, or the main object.

The command here solemnly forbids our doing ‭anything‭ with such an aim—no matter whether it be in intellectual attainments, in physical strength, in skill in music, in eloquence or song, in dress, furniture, or religion. ‭Self‭ is not to be foremost; selfishness is not to be the motive. Probably there is no command of the Bible which would have a wider sweep than this, or would touch on more points of human conduct, if fairly applied.

Who is there who passes a single day without, in some respect, desiring to display himself? What minister of the gospel preaches, who never has any wish to exhibit his talents, eloquence, or learning? How few make a gesture, but with some wish to display the grace or power witch which it is done! Who, in conversation, is always free from a desire to show his wit, or his power in argumentation, or his skill in repartee? Who plays at the piano without the desire of commendation? Who thunders in the senate, or goes to the field of battle; who builds a house, or purchases an article of apparel; who writes a book, or performs a deed of benevolence, altogether uninfluenced by this desire? If all could be taken out of human conduct which is performed merely from “strife,” or from “vain–glory,” how small a portion would be left!‭

– Albert Barnes, 1798-1870, Barnes Notes

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The Arm of the flesh

 “Without me, you can do nothing.” – John 15:5

Until we are utterly empty of self, we are not ready to be filled by God; until we are conscious of our own weakness, we are not fit platforms for the display of the divine omnipotence. Until the arm of flesh is paralysed, and death is written upon the whole natural man, we are not ready to be endowed with the divine life and energy.

– Charles Haddon Spurgeon, 1834-1892

Published in: on October 22, 2017 at 12:17 am  Leave a Comment  
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The true ideal of all Christian life

Jenny Lind (known as “the Swedish Nightingale”) once said to another, in accounting for the motive and spirit of her wonderful singing, “I sing to God!” She meant that she looked into God’s face, as it were, and consciously sang to Him. She did not sing to the vast audience that hung on her words and was held spellbound by them. She was scarcely conscious of any face before her, but God’s. She thought of no listening ear, but God’s.

We may not all be able to enter into such perfect relation with God as did this marvelous singer — but this is the only true ideal of all Christian life.

We should do each piece of work for God.
The business man should do all his business for God.
The artist should paint his picture for God.
The writer should write his book for God.
The farmer should cultivate his ground for God.
This means that we are always engaged in the Father’s business, and must do it all in a way that He will approve.

Jesus was a carpenter, for many years working at the carpenter’s bench. We are sure that He did each piece of work for His Father’s eye. He did it skillfully, conscientiously, beautifully. He did not skimp it nor hurry through it, so as to get away from the shop earlier.

– J. R. Miller, 1840-1912, The Glory of the Common Place

To be more hidden

“And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman (Mary of Bethany) came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head.” – Mark 14:3

“Jesus said,…She has done a good work for Me.” Mark 14:6

“She,” said Christ, “has worked a good work for Me,” which He never said of Martha, good as Martha was. He censured, a little, the elder sister for being cumbered with much serving. But Mary’s work He commended and decreed that it should be remembered as long as the world stands. Though she does not bear the name of a worker in the vulgar judgment, yet is she the queen in the kingdom of good works! Yet, I remind you, she did not say a word. There is such a thing as spoiling what you do by making so great a fuss, before you do it. Moreover, there is such a thing as talking so much afterwards of what we have done that it spoils it all. It seems as if we must let all the world know something about ourselves — whereas the joy and bliss of it all is not to let yourself be seen, but to let the oil go streaming upon the Master till He is anointed with perfume and we, ourselves, sink back into our natural insignificance. Silent acts of love have musical voices in the ears of Jesus! Sound no trumpet before you, or Jesus will take warning and be gone!

If we could all do more and talk less, it might be a blessing to ourselves and, perhaps, to others. Let us labor in our service for the Lord to be more and more hidden! As much as is the proud desire to catch the eye of man, let us endeavor to avoid it.

– Charles Haddon Spurgeon, 1834-1892

Published in: on September 11, 2016 at 8:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Work for God’s eye

 

“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” Matthew 6:1

No grace shines more brightly in a Christian, than humility. Wherever SELF comes in–it mars the beauty of the work we are doing. Seek to do your work noiselessly. Do not try to draw attention to yourself–to make others know that you did some beautiful thing. Be content to pour your rich life into other wasted, weary lives–and see them blessed and made more holy–and then hide away and let Christ have the honor. Work for God’s eye–and even then, do not think much about reward. Seek to be a blessing–and never think of self-glory.

“Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:4

J. R. Miller, 1840-1912

Published in: on July 24, 2016 at 10:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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We are in debt to everybody!

“Little children, we must not love in word or speech–but in deed and truth.” 1 John 3:18

“Do not owe anyone anything–except to love one another.” Romans 13:8

We are in debt to everybody! Love is a debt which never can be altogether settled. You may pay it all off today–but tomorrow you will find it as heavy as ever. It is a debt which everybody owes to everybody. Nor can it be paid off with any mere sentimental love. It cost Paul a great deal, to settle his obligations and pay his debts to others.

There is a sort of philanthropic sentiment which some people have, which does not cost them very much. But to pay his debts of love, Paul gave up all he had, and then gave himself up to service, suffering, and sacrifice to the very uttermost. True love always costs! Love’s essential quality, is unselfish helpfulness, the carrying of the life with all its rich gifts and powers in such a way–that it may be a blessing to every other life which it touches.

As Christians, we owe love to everyone–and love always serves. Serving is an essential quality of love. The true standard of greatness–is service. It is not what our life is in gifts, in culture, in strength–but what we do with our life, which is the real test of character. Our Lord taught this truth when he said, “Whoever wants to become great among you–must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first–must be slave of all.” Mark 10:43-44. He who serves the most fully and the most unselfishly, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Love seeks to give, to minister, to be of use, to do good to others. The true Christian desires to serve others, to minister to their comfort, to be a help and a blessing to them. It is thus, that we should relate ourselves to every person who comes within our influence. Love will lead us to ask concerning everyone who passes before us, “What can I do to help this brother of mine, to add to his happiness, to relieve his trouble, to put him in the way of holiness, to comfort his sorrow?” If this were the habitual attitude of our love, paradise would soon be restored. It would put an end to all our miserable pride, to all our petty tyrannies and despotisms.

Love works most effectively–when it works unconsciously, almost instinctively, inspired from within. That is the best service, which flows out of the heart and life–as light from the sun, as fragrance from a flower. There is no other way of paying our debt of love to others, which is so Christlike as this. We are to be to others–what Jesus would be, if He were in our place!

– J. R. Miller, The Building of Character, 1894

Published in: on June 26, 2016 at 1:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Dying to Self

Another step in the death of self is to seek in every thing to be child-like, and extremely simple in our manners, words, dress, tastes, and interior experiences. Self naturally feeds on complexity and things grand and large and loud.

Christ is the very embodiment of divine and eternal simplicity.
The deeper we sink into the Christ-life, the more we become disappointing to the people.
Our learning, or talents will not show off to such fine advantage.
We talk less.
We live more quietly and interiorly.
Our labors are less ostentatious.
We do more hard fighting with fewer dress-parades.
We bring things to pass through prayers and faith in God more than by outward showy methods.
We love to live like God, a profound hidden life,
in which people think we don’t amount to very much.
This is one of the tests of sinking out of self.

G. D. Watson, 1845-1924

Published in: on April 10, 2016 at 12:48 am  Leave a Comment  
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