I heard John Piper say something last year that really gave me pause. He basically said, “There is a temptation that in making much of God, we can make much of ourselves.” In other words, our hearts are so wicked that in declaring and holding to His truth, we secretly relish how it makes us – in certain crowds – look very good. Such is the perversion of vanity. And if we know our hearts, we know this to be true.
A couple days ago I read the following quote. When I read it, I realized Piper’s thought wasn’t original. It went back 500 years. However, it goes back further than that – to a garden wherein our first father was allured by a serpent with the same temptation: “You will be like God” (Gen. 3.5b). Are we not robbing God of His glory when our hearts seek to be elevated by men when we elevate God’s truth? Let us praise God for the 2nd Adam who did not seek to steal His Father’s glory – even though He had every divine right to do so. Let us cry out to the Spirit of Jesus today to help us live humbly as we hold to the message that’s transformed our hearts.
The Gospel was not given that we might seek our own praise and glory through it or that the common people might acclaim us, its ministers, on account of it. But it was given that through it the blessing and glory of Christ might be illumined…Therefore the Gospel is the sort of teaching in which the last thing to look for is our own glory…Therefore he who seeks his own glory in the Gospel speaks on his own authority. But he who speaks on his own authority is a liar, and there is unrighteousness in him; but He who seeks the glory of Him who sent Him tells the truth, and there is no unrighteousness in Him (John 17.8).” – Martin Luther, Galatians – 1535 (100-101)