Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"Not Unto Us!"

A famous preacher was asked upon his retirement, "How do you want to be remembered?" He responded without hesitation, "That I was faithful to the end, and lived above reproach."

Another less famous minister was asked the same question. He paused before answering, and seemed uncomfortable with the question. Finally he said, "That I had a merciful and gracious God who was unceasingly and undeservedly kind to me."

I love the answer of the latter gentleman. He clearly desired to deflect attention away from himself, and unto the Lord who had forgiven his sins, changed his heart, and revealed His faithfulness in life and ministry time and again. Indeed, the gentleman emphasized God's faithfulness rather than his own, and the hearer's attention was directed toward the Lord of Heaven rather than the servant of earth.

As I write, I am mindful that the Apostle Paul wrote of himself near the end of his life: "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing" (II Timothy 4:7-8). Perhaps, therefore, a time and a place exists for testimonies that mention personal faithfulness. However, we must remember that Paul was largely not famous in his day, but rather infamous. He was rejected and disrespected by many believers as being a deceiver and a false apostle. The truth of the matter was that he was "the apostle of the Gentiles," and the writer of much of the New Testament (Romans 11:13). The Holy Spirit inspired his words, and thus the affirmation of his faithfulness was actually the necessary confirmation by God that Paul was His chosen servant.

Rare, if ever, will be the time when such testimony of our own faithfulness is so required, and the Holy Spirit will doubtless lead us to instead proclaim the faithfulness of the Lord Jesus Christ. When I think of the testimonies mentioned above, one leads me to think of the man. The other leads me to think of the Lord. I opt for the latter, and believe that the Spirit of God most often leads us to the emphasis expressed by the Psalmist...

"Not unto us, o Lord, not unto us! But unto Thy name give glory, for Thy mercy, and for Thy truth's sake."

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