Who Gets The Credit?
The evidence of God's work in your life will produce the recognition of God when people meet you. Give God the glory.
Alright, thank you very much, and hello again, radio friends! How in the world are you? Are you doing alright today? Well, that little greeting establishes the fact that this is indeed your good friend Dr. Bob Cook, and I’m so grateful to be back with you again. I get lonesome to get with you. Did you ever have that feeling? No, I’m not with you physically. You’re there and I’m here. But oh, my heart and my mind and my thoughts, and my longings for God’s best in your life…they’re all with you. And I guess you know it, don’t you?
Well, we’re looking at 1 Thessalonians Chapter 2, and it’s Paul’s appraisal of his own ministry. He has some negatives and then we get down to some positives as well. He said “When I came, no deceit; I told you the truth. No uncleanness; I was right with God. No guile; I didn’t try to manipulate you. No flattering words; I didn’t lay it on with a trowel. No covetousness; I wasn’t trying to get something out of you. That was as far as we got the last time we were together. Now, you look at verse six: “Nor,” said he, “of men sought we glory, neither of you nor of others, when we might have been burdensome of the apostles of Christ.” “Give me my place because I am an apostle!” No, he didn’t do that. Leadership, beloved, has to be deserved; it can never be just demanded. Well, it can be demanded, but the minute the pressure is released, the leadership evaporates. Leadership has to be deserved. Bob Pierce used to say, when they asked him why he would take boatloads of rice over to Korea after the Korean War, feeding the refugees, he’d say, “You have to deserve a hearing. You can’t come to a person who’s starving and preach the gospel without helping him some.”
It’s a profoundly true statement. You have to deserve a hearing for the gospel and you have to deserve any leadership that you have. So he said, “We didn’t seek glory, neither of you nor of others.” Now there are two groups involved in this. Let’s admit at the outset that it’s nice to have somebody recognize you as being a person of some worth. Isn’t it? It’s nice when people recognize anything that you are doing or a position that you hold. You know, people introduce me and they say, “Mr. Cook was President of Youth for Christ, and President of the National Association of Evangelicals, and Vice President of Scripture Press and President of the National Religious Broadcasters,” and when they recite all of that, you sometimes think you’re sitting in your own funeral listening to your obituary. But a recital of who you are and what you’ve done…it feels good. You know, you have to admit that. And if people snub you, and somebody says “Bob Cook,” and somebody else says “Who?” you feel kind of let down. Am I communicating with you there, beloved? We’re all human, aren’t we? The point is, if that area of your life, the area that feels good when people recognize that you’re worth something, becomes the motivating force in your living and ministering, you’re in trouble. “Neither of men sought we glory.”
Why? Because the glory belongs to God, the recognition belongs to God. Promotion cometh not from the east, nor the south, nor the west, but from the Lord! He putteth up one and putteth down another, said the psalmist. Jeremiah said to his servant, “Seekest though great things for thyself, seek them not. The Lord is able to give thee much more than this,” is the Word. See, if that part of your life that enjoys being recognized (and we all do, I guess; I’m trying to be as honest as I can here) becomes the motivating force of your efforts and your ministry, you’re in trouble. Why? Because God is the one to get the glory, and because demanding recognition and leadership never satisfies and never lasts.
Oh, what a lesson to learn. “Neither,” said he, “of men sought we glory, neither of you nor of others.” Now, there are two publics: One of people that know you and the other, the people who don’t know you. The temptation is to do and to say those things that will get you recognized by those two groups. The people who know you of course, that’s the most difficult, because the more intimately people know you, the less likely they are to put you on any kind of a pedestal. You have to work harder to be recognized by your peers than by others. And so, here you have the pitiful spectacle of folk and you can see them all around you in business and in religious work and in the community, or if you’re a student you can see it happening on the campus. And if you can back off and look at it, sometimes it becomes laughable, the frenzied efforts that people make to be recognized. And sometimes, of course, it takes the form of bizarre behavior. Well, we had an epidemic years ago of ducktail haircuts. Do you remember the ducktail haircut, or the Mohawk, the Indian haircut? Where the head was shaved on both sides, leaving a strip of hair sticking straight up in the middle, and a few of the young fellas did that. All they wanted was to be noticed, and they were, I assure you. Somebody came to me and said, “Dr. Cook, what are you going to do about these outlandish haircuts?” I said, “I’m just going to let them grow hair again. What can you do?” They were noticed, but people laughed at them. It’s laughable, the attempt to be somebody and to be recognized as somebody oftentimes makes you ridiculous.
Recognition and leadership is a result, not an end in itself. Just like joy and happiness are results, not ends in themselves. People write to me and say, “Brother Cook, I don’t feel joyful.” And I write back to them and I say, “Do the things that God says bring joy and you’ll be joyful.” “Now the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost,” Romans 15:13 says. When you start committing your life to Him and start letting the Holy Spirit fill your life, you’ll be full of joy as a result. Recognition is nice, but if it becomes the driving force in your life, you’re in trouble.
Now Paul said, “I had a right to throw my weight around as an apostle; I could have been been burdensome as an apostle. I could have given orders, I could have strutted, I could have said, ‘You’d better recognize me, you’d better listen to me. I’m an apostle.’” But he said, “I didn’t do that. I didn’t seek glory from people.” Don’t touch the glory. T.W. Wilson, I guess it was, told me coming from a team meeting of the Billy Graham association a few years back with a touch of awe in his voice, “Billy talked to us for quite awhile.” And I said, “What did he say?” And he said, “Don’t touch the glory. The glory belongs to God. Don’t ever let me hear of any of you touching the glory. The glory belongs to God.” A wise, wise statement. “I am the Lord, that is My name, and My glory will I not share with another,” says God. “Neither of men sought we glory.”
Now, the other side of that is in Colossians 3: “Whatsoever ye do, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him, and whatsoever ye do, do it heartily.” Colossians 3:17 and 23 are the verses. Do it heartily; psyched-up, as to the Lord and not unto man, knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance for ye serve the Lord Christ. And in 1 Corinthians 10, “Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all, whether therefore you eat or drink or whatsoever ye do to the glory of God.” That’s the verse. What I am doing, what I am saying, the ministry I have, the Sunday School class I’m teaching, the precious little youngsters toddling around my knees that I’m raising in the family. The business that I’m carrying on, the sales pitch that I’m making, the budget I’m constructing, whatever it may be, look up and say, “O God, I’m doing this for you.” That makes a difference. And as I’ve said to you once or twice, or more, when you do things for God, routine becomes touched with the glow and the glory of Heaven.
Routines can be so boring. Filing, for example. I don’t think I would ever volunteer to be a filing clerk. The very thought of it just shakes me up. Routine work. This lady said she didn’t mind doing housework, but it was so daily. Routine can get on you. But when you do it as unto the Lord, it’s touched with glory. You can have a touch from Heaven while you’re standing at the kitchen sink doing the dishes. Yes you can. Oh, he said, “I didn’t seek glory from people. I could have, as an apostle.” But he said, “I didn’t.”
Now you want to back off from your own life and just ask this question. It’s a little uncomfortable to ask and answer. And that is, “How much of my life, and the force and the drive of it, is really slanted toward somebody else recognizing me, somebody else saying, “Thank you,” to me? It’s tough when your own loved ones never say “thank you,” isn’t it? Or when they snub you, or when they downright oppose you. And so you find yourself thinking and planning how you’re going to accomplish that thank you and that recognition. No, back off from it and say, “Lord, you’re the One. You’re the One that gets the glory. You’re the One that gets the praise. You’re the One that gets the recognition. You’re the One.”
“Neither of men sought we glory, nor of you, people who knew us, or of others, people who didn’t know us.” How do you impress people who don’t know you? That’s a tough one, isn’t it? I have been snubbed by some of the greatest people in the world. It’s hard to get people who don’t know you to be impressed by you. And I have to tell you, the only answer is to be found in the working of God the Holy Spirit in your life. Our Lord Jesus said of John the Baptist, “He was a burning and shining light and ye were for a time willing to be reflected in that light.” John was a burning and a shining light. People came to see him shine. The evidence of God in your life will produce recognition of God when people meet you. Well, we’ll get at that the next time we get together.
Holy Father, today, help us to give Thee all the glory. In Jesus’ name I ask this, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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