Vol. 11 No. 12 December 2009
By Don Blackwell
“You’ll have a hard time topping him!” This was the comment made by a well-intentioned Christian lady to the next speaker on the lectureship. He responded to this sister, “I don’t want to top him. We’re on the same side.” Though this sweet Christian woman surely meant nothing negative, it does remind one of the old saying, “There is no competition among lighthouses.” We would do well to remind ourselves of that sentiment on a regular basis.
There seems to be an infatuation among some members of the church with getting credit for their work. Some preachers have even warned, “If you use my material, be sure to give me credit.” In the secular world, this is surely understandable, but in the Lord’s church, the obsession with getting credit seems a bit out of place. My goal as a Gospel preacher is not about “getting credit.” My “credit” is not on this earth. My goal is to save souls, and if I produce something that will help others more effectively accomplish this goal, then please use it.
The Pharisees were very concerned with getting credit and with being seen of men. When they gave alms, they wanted credit among men. When they prayed, they wanted credit among men. However, the Lord said, “Verily I say unto you, They have their reward” (Matthew 5:2). May our righteousness exceed that of the Pharisees!
One is also reminded of Herod in Acts 12, who evidently had given a very eloquent verbal presentation. Though the praise of the people was certainly excessive, Herod enjoyed it nonetheless. The text, however, says, “an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God.” Without a doubt, this is where all credit should be directed. Though I may have been blessed with great ability, it was given to me by God.
In the business world, employees who work for the same company all labor together to produce a product that will benefit the business. Ultimately, the credit goes to the company, not the individual. In fact, under the U.S. copyright law's work-made-for-hire doctrine, the owner of an intellectual creation is not the employee who originated the idea, but rather the company for whom he works. In the Lord’s church, we all work for the same “company” if you will. Though the Lord’s church is not a company, it’s a team of people all working together to accomplish the same goal — to save souls and to give God the glory. Let's let the credit remain with the Owner of the church.
This “credit seeking” attitude is particularly unattractive when seen among faithful brotherhood works. Due to the difficulty in raising money, sometimes evangelistic works of the church put great emphasis on who gets the credit for work done. While it’s certainly not wrong to point to the effectiveness of a particular effort, we need to be careful not to let pride enter the picture, nor to begrudge another good work in any way. There is no competition among lighthouses, and we’re all on the same side.
PS - If you want to use this, please cite me. :-)
“At the name of Jesus every knee should bow…” (Philippians 2:10). In August 1857, Cyrus Field and his company, Atlantic Telegraph, attempted to lay a telegraph cable from England to North America, but the cable broke at twelve thousand feet under the ocean surface and could not be recovered. During the next nine years, Field and his men made three more unsuccessful attempts. Finally, in July 1866, they succeeded in laying hundreds of miles of cable across the Atlantic.
Israel spent almost twenty-one years rebuilding the temple. The work began in 537 B.C. and was finally completed in 516 B.C. Israel’s enemies continually stopped the work; one period lasted as long as seventeen years. People of less perseverance might have given up, but Israel had a deep desire to worship God.
Paul wrote about Christ’s patience, or more exactly, His perseverance. We may not understand why the Lord demonstrated patient determination in His humanity, but we are to follow His pattern. “May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ” (2 Thessalonians 3:5).