Daily Devotional for Tuesday September 20, 2005
Loving the Praise of Men More Than the Praise of God
I want to ask you a very personal and direct question this morning. Do you love the praise of men more than the praise of God? I am going to assume most everyone answering that question will immediately say, NO! Are you sure? You SAY you love the praise of God more than the praise of man but do you really? When you are confronted with a situation where you have the opportunity to proclaim Jesus Christ as the only way, the only Truth, the only life, the only answer . . . do you do it? Or, do you chicken out? The last time you were in a conversation with people who didn't believe in Jesus and you had the opportunity to defend Christ, did you? Or did you sit back and go along with the others by your silence? My friend, when given the opportunity to proclaim Christ and Christ alone and you fail to do so, despite what you may say, you love the praise of men more than the praise of God.
I was in my office Friday morning working away when the coverage of the National Day of Prayer service at Washington's National Cathedral came on. I don't usually watch these events since I end up so frustrated hearing the one true God of the Bible spoken of in the same breath as the false gods of the world, seeing the false religions of the world put on the same plane as faith in Christ. I realize that at these national events this is the script, so rather than be frustrated watching the house of God desecrated by the false gods and religions of the world, I simply don't pay much attention. However, Friday was different. As the service moved forward, all of a sudden I saw a familiar face striding to the pulpit to deliver the sermon, Bishop T. D. Jakes. I quickly turned up my volume to hear this bold and brazen Gospel preacher stand before that congregation and the world watching and tell people that JESUS CHRIST IS THE ONLY ANSWER!
I am still waiting.
If you are not familiar with Bishop Jakes, he has become well known in the Christian world as the pastor of The Potter's House in Dallas, Texas. He is on all the Christian TV stations daily and is a powerful and articulate preacher of the Gospel. Some have questioned his theology, but the bottom line is he preaches Christ and Christ crucified with blazing rhetoric that brings his audience to their feet numerous times during his message. Even though he is virtually unknown outside of the Christian community, here was his opportunity on a world stage to deliver a passionate message of the hope we have in Jesus Christ, the only One men can turn to in times of trouble. It is Christ and Christ alone who is the answer for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, for the rebuilding of New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf, and it is Christ and Christ alone who is the answer for this lost and hurting world.
Sadly, with the world watching, Bishop Jakes never talked about Jesus.
As he stepped down from the pulpit Friday morning, I could only think of when Jesus said, "if you are ashamed of me, I will be ashamed of you before my Father." How could a man who is so bold when he preaches to the choir be so meek when preaching to the world? The message was nice. It was a politically correct and socially acceptable message, one any Jew, Muslim, Hindu, or New Ager could have given. I can only guess one of two things happened. When asked to give the sermon he was forced to give an advanced copy of his sermon to the White House for approval and was told specifically NO JESUS ( at that point he should have either declined to speak or done what I would have done in that situation, say OK and half way thru my message preach JESUS anyway!), or he simply decided to "play it safe" and leave Jesus out of his message so nobody would be offended. Either way, Bishop Jakes decided to go for the praise of men over the praise of God.
*Note: For anyone that is going to try and defend Bishop Jakes by saying "this was not the place to talk about Jesus," please save your emails. If God's house is not the place to talk about Jesus, where is? If the people of the false religions of the world are going to be offended, so what? I've got news for you. When they die in their sins and are cast into everlasting darkness they are going to be offended for all eternity! When you are there to bring hope to the hurting and encouragement to the world, Jesus is the ONLY One who can do that! When those who are supposed to be the spokesmen for Christ fail to tell people about Jesus, who is supposed to tell them?
The point of today's Devotional is very simple. Do we live our lives for the praise of man or the praise of God? Let me assure you that it is easier to get the praise of God than of man, and it is praise that is not temporary but eternal!!! You see, trying to please man is an impossible task because what is expected and required of us changes so often. You can try your entire life to please man but you will end up most sad and frustrated because it is not possible. The wonderful thing about God is that He has told us in His word what He expects, thus we know without a doubt what is required to please Him.
The other problem with the praise of man is that it is so temporary. How many people in the entertainment, athletic, the industry you may be part of are "hot" for a period of time, then are all but forgotten. The praise of man is fleeting, temporal. The praise of God is everlasting. I realize that many of you struggle with this issue. Trying to get the praise of someone in your life, whether it be in school, professionally, or in some sort of relationship. I am not saying not to try to please others or do a good job. What I am saying is that your first priority is to please God. So many email me how distraught they are because they just can't seem to make this person or that person happy. Continue to try, but always remember that your goal should not be to receive the praise of a man, but the praise of God.
I realized a very long time ago that I could not make everyone happy. No matter how hard I tried it just wasn't possible. I still do my best each day, but in that effort, I never forget that ultimately it is God that I have to please. Even though everyone else may not like what I do, as long as I am doing what God wants and He is pleased then I have succeeded.
We read about the human cry of the prophets in the Old Testament complaining how nobody would listen to them. Nobody was willing to heed their warnings. How frustrated they were. I can guarantee you this. None of those men were ever going to receive any awards from their city, but they were receiving far greater rewards from God because of their faithfulness. In the Book of Acts, Stephen's reward for preaching the Gospel was death by stoning. Even though those around him were so upset they literally stoned him to death, Jesus rose from His throne and stood to welcome Stephen into Heaven because of his faithfulness!!!
I love you and care about you so much. I pray today that you will never forget that it is God who we must ultimately please each and every day, not man. I will be praying for you that the next time you are in a situation where you can tell someone about Jesus, that you will "always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks you the reason for the hope that is within you." (1 Peter 3:15) Like everyone, I enjoy the praise of man but I do not live for that. I live my life for the praise of God and to one day hear those words, "Well done thou good and faithful servant."