Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 3:1-4
“Are we beginning to praise ourselves again? Are we like others, who need to bring you letters of recommendation, or who ask you to write such letters on their behalf?” [2 Corinthians 3:1 NLT].
Have you met people who boast of their abilities and achievements, and who seem to have such a high opinion of themselves that they think that everyone else needs them? When I was a boy it was constantly drummed into me that self-praise is no recommendation, and here it is in God’s Word, “Are we beginning to praise ourselves again?” J.B. Philips in his translation of the New Testament translates this as, “Is this going to be more self-advertisement in your eyes?” That’s exactly what self-praise is – it is self-advertisement! It is an attitude of “I have got what you want, and here I am.” It has a real feel of pride about it. Most instances of words that begin with the word self come from the lips of people who have never learned the meaning, or have forgotten the meaning, of being crucified with Christ.
There was a time when I became disappointed that a particular church no longer seemed to want me to preach, but in my heart I kept pushing for it. I asked a very godly friend’s advice. He asked me about my opportunities to minister in various parts of the world over the previous months. When he heard of the places I had been he responded by saying, “Then why do you need to preach in that church.” What a revelation! The wrongness of my attitude and my pride suddenly became clear to me, and I repented of it.
Over the next couple of weeks I received several invitations to preach in different parts of the United Kingdom, but imagine my surprise when I was asked to speak in the church that I had thought no longer wanted me. It was as though God had to deal with me first! It was when I let go of something that I had been holding on to that God then made a way for me. There is a vital spiritual principle here – what we try to hold on to we lose, but what we release and let go of God often gives back to us. It is so easy to begin to depend on our own gifting and develop an attitude of pride.
Early in the ministry I learned that a man’s gift makes room for him [Proverbs 18:16]. We don’t have to recommend or advertise ourselves, and if invitations don’t come then we wait for God. That is God’s responsibility. His Word says that promotion comes from the Lord: he puts one down and sets another up [Psalm 75:6-7].
Is there a burden or some other thing that you have been holding on to that God wants you to surrender to Him?
However long we have been following Jesus we all have blind spots, and need the fellowship of more mature, godly people to speak into our lives. Do you need to humble yourself and speak to someone about the thing that you are struggling with?