Sunday, March 18, 2007

Day Twenty: The Implications of the Promise, Part IV

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:7-8).

The fourth and final implication I see from John 15:7-8 is this: in light of the fact that the glory of God is the ultimate purpose of Jesus’ teaching in these verses, we ought to train ourselves to give glory to God at every turn. Every time we see the fruit of the vine being borne in our lives we should glorify the Father in the secret places of our hearts and, as appropriate, in the sight and hearing of others. “In the same way, let your light shine before others that they may see your good works [i.e., your fruit] and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Now, there is a balance to be struck here between letting our light shine before others and living for the glory of God alone. Jesus said, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 6:1). Thus, we must work hard to ensure that we are seeking the glory of God and not our own. A. W. Tozer once said that among the worst of sins is promoting self under the guise of promoting Christ. We don’t want to be hypocrites, but we do want to be truth-tellers—and the truth is that we are not responsible for the fruit of the vine being borne in our lives, the Father is. And since he is responsible for the fruit he must get the glory.

There is a way to remain silent and sin. If someone offers us praise for the fruit they see in our lives and we fail, in some appropriate way, to deflect that praise to God, we have sinned. Thus, let us pray for the wisdom of God to know when to speak and when to be silent, and let us allow God to train our hearts so that we can maximize his glory at every turn.

And we should know that as we seek to glorify God at every turn, not everyone will appreciate us for it. Indeed, some will even malign and persecute us for it. Jesus himself warns us about this in John 15:20: “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.” But then he offers us these hopeful words in Matthew 5:11-12: “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Brothers and sisters, we must learn to give glory to God at all times even if it results in suffering, for in the end we will rejoice in God. The prize is worth the pain. The joy is worth the sacrifice. The glory of God is worth the suffering. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Prayer Focus: Pray that the Father will teach us to glorify him at every turn, teaching us to die to ourselves and live to him, teaching us to suffer with Christ that we may also rejoice with him.

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