As I read 2 Samuel this morning, I was thinking about the way other people behave. Caught with conviction, I asked the Lord to speak to me about the way I behave. Every time I do that, I should duck.
As I read chapter 2 Samuel 12:26-28, I was convicted. It says, “Joab fought against Rabbah of the Ammonites and captured the royal citadel. Joab then sent messengers to David, saying, ‘I have fought against Rabbah and taken its water supply. Now muster the rest of the troops and besiege the city and capture it. Otherwise I will take the city, and it will be named after me.’”
In those days, the one who conquered the enemy got the glory, and it was usually the king or head of the army, not one of his generals. In this case, Joab was David’s general. Considering human ambition and the tendency of those days, I’d not been surprised if Joab simply finished the job and captured the city. Instead, he wanted his king to take the credit. Joab was a noble man.
Sometimes I start something in my own strength, without prayer or even a thought about God. It may not be as momentous as conquering a city, but I’m headed in the same direction as Joab and about to receive some type of recognition for what I am doing. But unlike Joab, I can’t remember ever stopping in the middle of such an activity to ask my King to take over, to empower me or in some way do the rest of it—so He gets the credit and the glory, not me. This glory may come from others, but even when it is what I am thinking in my own heart only, self-glory is sin.
Also, I know that whatever I do, if Jesus is not in it, it is worthless. However, when He is involved, my pride becomes humility. Not only that, Jesus’ involvement means that there will be eternal consequences. How foolish to want ‘cities named after me’!
Then, in a different topic but also convicting, I read this from God is Enough: “When a believer really trusts, he ceases to worry about the thing he has entrusted. When he worries, it is proof that he does not trust. Tested by this rule, how little real trust there is in the church of Christ! No wonder our Lord asked the pathetic question, ‘When the Son of man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?’ (Luke 18:8). He will find plenty of work, a great deal of earnestness, and doubtless many consecrated hearts, but will He find faith, the one thing He values more than all the rest?”
How many times have I prayed and told God that I trusted Him with the answer, then stewed about it? Or if I wasn’t agitated, I simply didn’t really believe that the answer was in His hands? Far too many.
Many of my prayers are about the spiritual lives of others. If God saved me (a truly stubborn and hard heart), and if God can take care of my spiritual life, why can’t I trust Him with the souls of others? Is my worry about them a genuine burden (which calls for prayer and spiritual warfare), or is it a reflection of an unbelieving heart?
At first, I thought these two things, the one about giving God glory and the other about truly trusting Him, were not related, but they are. If I wanted a tiny bit of credit for the salvation of souls, or for the growth and maturity of those I pray for, then I would have a tough time handing them over to my King because He would take over, do the rest of it, and get the glory. Perhaps the reason I am anxious for others is that I want some part in their spiritual well-being, even if that part is constantly bringing them to God in prayer?
Oh, I know I’m to pray continually for others. That is not the issue. The issue is whether or not I am praying in faith, really trusting God to do it and really wanting Him to get the credit. Or am I just working hard in prayer thinking that if I don’t, it won’t happen, or worse, thinking that if I do, I’ll be recognized in some way for my efforts?
One thing is certain; Jesus will never give up filtering out the dross and changing the way I think and act. It seems to take a long time to realize that this life I live is not about me.