by Mike Ratliff
And you said, ‘Behold, the LORD our God has shown us his glory and greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire. This day we have seen God speak with man, and man still live. (Deuteronomy 5:24 ESV)
The Christian whose ‘heart’ is aware of God’s voice revealing the truth to it in the midst of circumstances that are trying or difficult or even disturbing should be grateful for that. This ‘awareness’ is a gift from God and we dare not squander it. When we question why our circumstances seem to ‘against us’ in every way possible then we become aware that we are being tried and these ‘things’ are being used by God to accomplish His will in us, then we have a choice. Some may refuse to go further in their sanctification and will not ‘tolerate’ any more cutting, chisling, or shaping by the hand of God. However, the Christians who submit with a grateful heart are the ones who are working with God to conquer their pride and flesh.
We all have a value system. We all have a ‘grid system’ that we use to ‘judge’ or ‘discern’ how to react to our circumstances. God is working in all who belong to Him to conform their value system unto His. When we are self-focused and react selfishly to our circumstances then we are doing so by our own fleshly values. However, any reaction that is patient and submissive and gracious is the product of God working through us and the value system He is building in us. This value system is geared towards God and His glory rather than our own exaltation.
God’s great design in all His works is the manifestation of His own glory. Any aim less than this were unworthy of Himself. But how shall the glory of God be manifested to such fallen creatures as we are? Man’s eye is not single, he has ever a side glance towards his own honour, has too high an estimate of his own powers, and so is not qualified to behold the glory of the Lord. It is clear, then, that self must stand out of the way, that there may be room for God to be exalted; and this is the reason why He bringeth His people ofttimes into straits and difficulties, that, being made conscious of their own folly and weakness, they may be fitted to behold the majesty of God when He comes forth to work their deliverance. He whose life is one even and smooth path, will see but little of the glory of the Lord, for he has few occasions of self-emptying, and hence, but little fitness for being filled with the revelation of God. They who navigate little streams and shallow creeks, know but little of the God of tempests; but they who “do business in great waters,” these see His “wonders in the deep.”
Among the huge Atlantic-waves of bereavement, poverty, temptation, and reproach, we learn the power of Jehovah, because we feel the littleness of man. Thank God, then, if you have been led by a rough road: it is this which has given you your experience of God’s greatness and lovingkindness. Your troubles have enriched you with a wealth of knowledge to be gained by no other means: your trials have been the cleft of the rock in which Jehovah has set you, as He did His servant Moses, that you might behold His glory as it passed by. Praise God that you have not been left to the darkness and ignorance which continued prosperity might have involved, but that in the great fight of affliction, you have been capacitated for the outshinings of His glory in His wonderful dealings with you. – Charles Spurgeon from C.H. Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening Devotional for Saturday July 19, 2008
My brethren, I pray that you will look at your circumstances with a deliberate intent to not allow your own honor to enter in to how you respond. To be able to do so requires our focus to be on Christ instead of self. Those who are able to do this have learned to not be concerned for self-exaltation and actually prefer to serve God with no one observing. They never talk to others about their service because that is dangerous. The danger is that our pride may come out of its vile hole and seek glory. As long as what we do is between God and us then we are content. But we are even more so if we view even our good works as simply acts of obedience that are required by our master of all of his bond-servants.
We must learn to view ourselves as slaves to our Lord. Slaves receive no glory. They serve their masters for His glory alone. If we attempt to serve Him for any other motive then we will find ourselves ‘competing’ with other servants and that is not good. The greatest joy for our Lord’s servants must be to be content in serving Him even if no one knows about it except Him and us. Those of us whose ministries are somewhat public must learn to minister in such a way that perceived success or failure are viewed that same way, as God working through us for His glory alone. What I mean is that some may see success or failure in our ministries, but we must view all that happens through us as God’s will and in that we must be content.
If we mature into this value system then we will be content no matter what our circumstances are because we know that God is sovereign. We must remain obedient and serve Him as we are called, but we must never use the world’s value system to measure the success or failure of our ministries.
Soli Deo Gloria