Wednesday, November 01, 2006

False Providential Blessing Humility

With this one you have to be careful, because there is definitely a place for giving thanks to God for His work in our lives. In fact, we must do this. And we need not do it only when praying privately to God. God is richly glorified when we tell of His great works to others. We ought never to equate recounting His work with false humility.

That said, it is yet entirely possible to show false humility and to brag when purporting to tell others of God's work. That is to say, I can be telling you about how great I am when I am supposedly telling you how great God is. Where's the line here, you say? Well, this is tricky. I guess I would say that this is a matter of motive and common sense. Is your motive to tell someone you scored 20 points in the game to give praise to God or to puff yourself up? Is your motive to tell others that your wife is incredibly beautiful to give praise to God or to puff yourself up? Is your motive to tell others how your church's attendance has gone up 300% in the last year to give praise to God or to puff yourself up? In the end, only you and God know. It is important, then, that you ask yourself before telling such things to others, why am I sharing this? And who does this make look good--God or me?

I can honestly say that there are times when it is appropriate to share stories of God's providential blessing. In fact, such sharing is biblical--look at the Psalms. People are constantly recounting what God has done. And Paul often cites his apostleship to register his authority with others. But look closer at these examples. In the Psalms, speaking generally, the focus of the story is God, not man. And with Paul, he is often defending his apostleship to those who deride him. So we can take a couple principles from these examples. One, to avoid False Providential Blessing Humility, put the focus on what God has done, not on what you have done (or what you say He has done through you). Two, be careful to choose well when you sprinkle conversation with news of God's blessing. If you're constantly telling people how big your church has gotten, and citing impressive statistics, I'm going to go out on a limb and say you're probably praising yourself as much as God.

Giving thanks to God for your abilities and circumstances can certainly be authentic and genuine. However, it can also be a disguise for bragging, and I see this a fair amount in Christian circles. Remember the idea of the secular film crew--if they followed you around and filmed your life, would they catch you over and over recounting to others what great and amazing things God has done for you? Or would they catch you humbly and carefully citing His providence, showing joy for it but taking care to keep the focus on Him?

Again, only you--and God--knows.


Blogger Mrs. Jamie Butts :) said...

Owen (and Bethany)

I'm enjoying your blog as I stop by fairly often now. Keep it up.

Jamie Butts (from Third Avenue)

12:23 PM  
Anonymous Colin said...

O-what do you think about "bragging" that is clearly bragging?

6:01 PM  
Blogger Dad said...

ESV Romans 12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

In the context, I think one can conclude that we are to know what God is doing in our lives, and be content with this. Your comments about telling of God's work, God's story, are good.

Along with that we need to be mindful that "I" will never have pure motives in this life, and secondly, I am in a position to be able to make some judgment regardings others actions, but in a poor place to be able to judge accurately their heart (motives). Just because someone is doing a public deed of charity (Mt 6) does not automatically mean they are sounding their own trumpet.

Good series.

Grace and peace in the Lord Jesus Christ,


4:20 AM  

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