A writing opportunity fell into my lap the other day that had me aglow with excitement (Seriously. I think there was actual glow-age.)
I was going to get to write an article like I do here on the Wicket Gate but for a site that gets thousands of visitors each day instead of a handful each week. Writing is my dream and my heartbeat, especially when I write to share with people the beautiful truth of God’s Word. Getting a chance to do so for so many people had me thrilled.
Then my pride muddled things. My brain started painting me this lovely picture of getting accolades for my brilliant, inspiring words. My friends would see my name in the byline and congratulate me, I would see the numbers of those reading MY words growing daily, and the Wicket Gate would explode into this overwhelmingly popular blog because of it.
In other words, this idea that I had for ministry had kind of devolved into an ugly mess of self-glorification.
Thankfully for me, the opportunity fell through.
This whole experience raised a question for me, though. How DO we use our talents for God without getting in the way of His glory? After all, 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (emphasis added).
Let’s look at some Biblical examples of talent, shall we? We’ve got David, the wise king, fierce warrior, and talented musician. Then there’s Samson, the all around strong guy who could basically defeat the Philistines one handed. And finally, Paul, the guy who could speak the truth of the gospel in such a powerful, logical way that masses of people were moved.
Romans 15:4 tells us, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” Their stories were written to teach us. So what can we learn?
David: Constantly refocus
David was not a perfect man. He messed up. A lot. But what stands out to me about him is that he always turned his focus back to God. All through the psalms, he keeps his focus on the One who deserves glory. For example, Psalm 96:9 says, “Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth.” There is a constant, conscious effort to turn his thoughts back to God, especially in the psalms in which he is most tempted to turn away. When he struggled with anything, pride or otherwise, he walked himself back through the wonders of God.
Samson: Pride is really, really dangerous
This is actually the guy that got it wrong. I already said he was wildly, unbelievably strong, and that was because he had been given that gift from God. He, however, let it go to his head. If you read through Judges 14, you see he gives away the secret of his strength to impress a woman, which leads to his ruin. All through Judges 12-14, Samson comes off as arrogant and selfish, full of pride at all he accomplishes. And it destroyed him.
Paul: We are weak, but He is strong
Paul, I feel like, is the perfect example of a person who knows that all of the credit goes back to God. In 2 Corinthians 12, he said, “for though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool” and then pointed out, “a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.” He saw that, while God had gifted him, it would be foolish to boast when the gift was from God. Then, he noted all of his weaknesses, requiring him to completely depend on God. He said that God told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (1 Corinthians 12: 9). It was always all about God’s strength.
Remember the verse I quoted at the beginning? It said that no matter what we are doing, whether we are playing in front of an audience, giving a speech, or walking a dog, you should be able to give glory to God through it. If our attitude toward God is right, we will naturally do this with every breath that we take.
And if it’s not, all the good we might do is almost wasted. If I had taken that writing opportunity only so that I would look good, it would have been pointless and sinful!
So how do we do it right? Like David, we constantly remind ourselves of the power, holiness, and grace of God. And like Paul, we always steep ourselves in the knowledge that it is our weakness being used by God’s strength.
God’s strength is made perfect in our utter weakness. How blessed we are to be used by Him!