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Glory-recipient

I shared my horror at discovering I was a glory-stealer in a recent blog. It is still a spiritual battle for me. I continually plead with God to help me do everything for his glory and not for myself. God graciously comes to my aid and reminds me of the truth of who he is and who I am in Christ. The truth squelches my desire for glory and motivates me to give it all to God.

But guess what? Christ will generously share his glory with us someday! I won’t have to struggle against being a glory-stealer, because I will be a glory-recipient. “For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.” (Colossians 1:27 NLT) We don’t deserve anything, yet Christ will share his glory with us. Isn’t Christ amazing!

When will we share his glory? “…And I, too, will share in his glory when he is revealed to the whole world…” (I Peter 5:1 NLT) “So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day that Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” (I Peter 1:7 NLT) Peter writes that it will be when Christ is revealed to the whole world. “Since no one knows exactly when that time will come, we must wait.”

Scripture also makes it clear that suffering for Christ’s sake is a part of sharing in his glory. “And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.” (Romans 8:17 NLT) We need to be willing to suffer for Christ sake. When we suffer for him, we proclaim to the world that he is our worthy King. No one would willingly suffer for a dishonorable King. Suffering for Christ brings him, and eventually us, more glory.

Peter also alludes to increased glory for remaining strong under trial in I Peter 1:7. Does that give you any encouragement as you struggle under the weight of a heavy trial? Not only does God use tribulations to strengthen our faith, but he gives us more glory for standing firm under them. Satan wants to destroy our faith through suffering, but we must stand firm and when we do, God will honor us.

If only, we could grasp the truth of the gospel, then maybe we would be more patient and not so prone to keep some of God’s glory now. The gospel claims we will receive glory in the future. We can have confident hope of sharing in Christ’s glory. Let’s focus on who we are in Christ so we don’t need to steal any glory. Let’s strive to be glory-recipients not glory-stealers while living for Christ today.

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Glory-stealer, part 2

Self-confessed glory-stealer that I am, how do I combat this desire? I focus on the gospel and all its implications. There are two portions to the gospel; one, what Jesus did for us and two, our new identity in Christ. We tend to focus on the first part because it is the most important, but we rarely remember the second part. Christ changed who we are when he died and rose again.

After God’s revelation of my glory-stealing heart, I asked him to show me what was at the root of my problem. He showed me how he created man with great significance. But man rejected his God-given significance. As a result, we vainly search for our worth in others.

Unfortunately, we use the wrong standard for judging someone else’s value or importance. We look at outward appearance, socioeconomic status, intelligence, talents, accomplishments, etc. Unknowingly, we base our significance on the wrong things. When we look to others for value, we put ourselves at the mercy of someone else’s opinion of us. We feel good about ourselves when we measure up and not so good when we fail. A roller coaster ride perfectly sums up our search for significance through others.

We ingrain ourselves in this pattern to seek confirmation from others to feel good about ourselves. However, once we place our faith in Christ, we become a new person with our true significance back in place. Therefore, we must change our way of thinking about our old self. Paul understood he had to forget about his old identity, “I once thought these things (all of who he was before Christ) were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him…” (Philippians 3:7-9a NLT)

God opened my eyes: I was still operating from my old sense of Identity and seeking my significance from others. My desire for praise from others and thus stealing God’s glory was rooted in old lies. What lies? “Who God says I am isn’t true.” “Who God says I am isn’t enough; my old identity is preferable.” Even worse, “His opinion of me isn’t as important as man’s esteem of me.” Wow! The lies we believe consciously or unconsciously are so wicked. How dare I say to God his view of me isn’t good enough for me to feel significant!

Let’s commit to believing the truth of our new Identity in Christ. Let’s quit our glory-stealing ways and give all the glory to God. Remember, the judge of all the earth has declared us holy and blameless, an heir, a sweet aroma, a partner, a friend, a child of his, a masterpiece, and so much more. Great news! God’s never changes his view of us because of Jesus. Who we are in Christ is more than enough; we are very significant. Let’s live like it!

 

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Glory-stealer, Part 1

I confess, I have been a glory-stealer in the past. I still struggle against my flesh which craves the glory that is due God. I was oblivious to my hidden agenda for many years. On the surface, I believed I was serving God to glorify him. Underneath ran this current of desire to claim some of the glory for myself.

I relished the compliments and praise that came my way from fellow believers. I drank in their admiration. I fooled myself and others, saying it was all for God’s glory. Yet when God called me to step away from a ministry that showered me with kudos, I resisted. God illuminated my true reason for resistance. It wasn’t my love for who I was ministering to, but my love for the praise and recognition.

Torn open and laid bare before God, I was shaken to the core. Horrified, deep guttural sobs escaped from my throat. I wept and wept over my wicked heart. I confessed my glory-stealing ways and asked God to help me. I felt so unworthy of God’s love and grace. Yet, God lovingly unveiled my mixed motives for serving him that day. I sensed no anger or condemnation from him, only the desire to purify my soul.

I did want to glorify him, but I wanted to keep some of the glory for myself. “God, for serving you, I’m going to keep 50 percent of the praise for me. That alright with you?” Not that I ever tried to negotiate those terms, but that is what I was doing. When we steal some of the glory, we minimize what God has done. We take credit for what only he can do in and through us. We change the perspective of who did what; subtly my part is amplified and God’s part is diminished.

Paul told the Corinthians to do everything for the glory of God. “So whatever you eat or drink, whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (I Corinthians 10:31 NLT) Paul doesn’t say anything about taking a percentage for ourselves. Jesus also warned us about our motives. “Watch out! Don’t do your deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1 NLT) Glory-stealing is serious business.

Only God, and God alone, deserves our praise and worship. “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (Revelation 4:11 NIV) He is the creator! All exists because of his will, including us. How dare we incline our hearts toward glory and praise!

I’m guessing I’m not the only Christian who struggles with glory-stealing. Maybe you have never labeled yourself as such, but do you do it too? Do you enjoy the praise of others? Do you secretly desire others to notice your good deeds? Do you occasionally feel the need to “toot your own horn?” Do you feel let down if no one says anything about your solo or leadership or mentoring or acts of service?

We must put to death our fleshly desire for praise. We start by asking the Holy Spirit to reveal any ulterior motives so we can confess them and repent from them. We must humble ourselves before God. “And he gives grace generously. As the scripture says, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ So humble yourselves before God.” (James 4:6,7a NLT) Let’s make sure we are doing everything for the glory of God and not even a tiny bit of glory for ourselves. No negotiations for percentages with God, he gets 100%!