A Scripture verse I’ve come to love this week is Psalm 73:26. It reads, “My heart and flesh may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” He is the one who gives me strength. He is the one who gives me all that I have, and without Him I have nothing. All that I do, all that I seek to do, should honor and glorify Him. He’s the one who deserves the praise for what I do, not me.
Recently I had been offered a volunteer position for a website. It’s a “traveling with kids” website where people write reviews of different places they’ve been to, to help other parents decide whether or not they want to take their kids. It’s a great resource, and I was asked to head up assignments in New York State. At first I was afraid because of my fear of phones and communication, but I decided to push through and really give it some thought and prayer. I didn’t want to brush it off so quickly. Unfortunately, though, I felt like I was pushing God away, though I prayed for a decision. What I realized right before I emailed the one in charge of this with a “no” was that what had kept me from saying no until that point was the fact that I would have loved to see my name and picture up with the rest of volunteers who do this same thing in other states. That was my big draw. Sure, it might be fun, and it would be a big help to the site, but I wanted to see my name up there. I wanted to be recognized. When I received an email detailing what was involved, I knew it was just too much for me to handle with everything else in my life right now. I had to look at my priorities and there was no place for this. I told my husband that it was pride that had been keeping me from saying no as he had watched me struggle with a decision.
I used to sing with my church when I was a teenager up through my early twenties. I love to sing, and this was one of my favorite things to do. But as the years passed I realized that I wasn’t singing to glorify God, but myself. I reveled in people coming up to me and thanking me for a solo I sang, telling me how beautiful my voice was. Oh how great that felt. I would get upset with myself if I didn’t do a great job with this song or that, and I would wait to see if anyone would praise me the Sunday mornings I felt I did superb job. As I entered into my later twenties my husband and I ended up at a different church, but I would skip a Sunday here and there to head back to my old church whenever my dad asked if I wanted to sing with him – he would cantor certain Sundays, and I loved to sing with him, but again I was looking for praise since we always chose such wonderful duets to sing together. It was all about me.
I still find myself at times looking for praise for myself, which is why this morning was so perfect. I was reminded that I have to focus on giving Him glory. I want to write to teach about God, to bring people to Him. When I sing, I want it to be giving praise to Him and only Him. This is true with anything I do in my life. I just need to remember this.
2 Corinthians 4:5-6 says this: “For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants of Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” It’s not for ourselves, but for Him. We need to be humble servants, seeking praise and glory only for Him. This is what we are called to do. This is what He gives us when we come to Him. When we humble ourselves and allow Him to guide our actions everything will be where it should.
In Psalm 34, verses 1-3 David writes, “I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.” Interestingly enough this was one of the psalms I used to sing at church. The answer was right in front of me the whole time, but I never saw it. I love what David says in verse five, just two verses later. He says, “Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” When we seek to glorify God and not ourselves, His light makes us radiant. When people see us ,God shines through. Because we make Him the focus, give Him all credit, we will never be shamed. Oh how good that feels! I’m giddy just thinking about that.
So, let’s not seek praise for ourselves, but for Him, and Him alone. Let us seek out His glory. Let us be humble servants, never taking praise for ourselves.
Lord God, thank you for showing me that all praise, glory and honor goes to You, and when I give it to You, You will make me shine with Your light; my face will never be covered in shame.