“Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31
The news from our mechanic threatened to scuttle our plans. A suspicious rattling noise prompted me to take our clunker of a car to the shop a day before we were scheduled to drive through the night to Florida for our family vacation. The mechanic informed me that the rattling noise was our transmission’s farewell song, and that we were going to have to replace it—a time-consuming and expensive repair.
Seriously discouraged, I made my way back to the church office. I was considering how I would break the news to my family, when the phone rang. On the other end of the line, one of our church members said, “Hey, Pastor, I hear that you’re going to Florida on vacation. You know, my wife and I are worried about you taking your family to Florida in that little car. Our cars belong to God, and we would like you to take one of them on your vacation. Your choice!”
Wow! I knew that his cars were beauties—so either one would have been incredible.
With vacation plans intact and with a heart of gratitude for God’s provision, my family made our way to Florida in our friend’s beautiful car. I’ve got to be honest: I loved driving that car. I loved the stares we got at stoplights; and I felt pretty proud as I pulled up to a gas station. As I was pumping gas into the car (it had a huge appetite for fuel!), a guy walked out of the gas station and said, “Hey, that’s a beautiful car. How do you like your car?”
This was a big moment for me. Do you think I wanted to tell him it wasn’t my car? No way! A spiritual battle raged in my heart for what seemed like an hour (but was probably only 10 seconds). Truth finally won out, and I said, “Well, it’s not my car, but I like it a lot!”
Through the course of life, we all have opportunities to take the credit for ourselves when we shouldn’t. In the spotlight of some success, it’s tempting to keep the applause focused on “me.” But when you think about it, we would have no success in our lives at all if God did not see fit to give us the opportunities to succeed, the brainpower, the education, the temperament and gifts to accomplish praiseworthy things. Even so, when people notice that we have something good going, an internal spiritual battle occurs: Do we keep the glory for ourselves, or do we turn the spotlight back to God where it belongs?
Paul had it right in Philippians 3:1-11 when he encouraged us to stop bragging about ourselves and to start rejoicing in the Lord. He put together an impressive list of his own accomplishments and then said they were like “dung” compared to the glorious reality of Christ in His life. Jeremiah said, “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight” (Jeremiah 9:23-24).
It’s not that we can’t enjoy our moment in the sun. Pleasure in good things is a gift that God has given us. It’s just that it’s important to give the credit for all we have and are to the appropriate person: God, the giver of all good things (1 Timothy 6:17).
- Think back on some areas of accomplishment in your life. How were those moments (or how could they have been) used to bring God glory? What can you do in the future to tactfully give God the credit?
- Think about some of the activities, hobbies, or pursuits that bring you genuine joy in life. Thank God for the opportunity to use the body and talents that He has given you to enjoy these things! Read Acts 12:20-23, a sobering thought about stealing the glory from God.
- Corollary verses: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Philippians 3:1-11