|Vol. 15 No. 6 June 2013||
I am sure you have heard some Christians express that thought. Many Christians want to be sure that if anyone uses any of their material that they receive credit for it. If an idea is generated from something they said or did, they want their share of the credit. Many Christians want to be sure they get their share (or maybe more than their share) of whatever credit is coming.
Seeking credit and honor is fine and necessary in the business world. We have patent laws to protect those who have worked hard and spent a good deal of money to perfect a new product or invention. We have copyright laws to ensure that those who write literature or music will receive credit and whatever money may come from those things. Such things work well in the business world.
The church, however, should not operate like a business. As Christians, we should not be concerned with receiving credit, because our purpose is not to glorify ourselves but to honor God. Many verses could be mentioned emphasizing this. “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever” (1 Peter 4:11). “To God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever” (Romans 16:27). These verses point out that our main goal is to honor and glorify God, not ourselves, and that everything we do should work towards that goal. Furthermore, rather than selfishly working for our own benefit, we work to benefit others and lift them up. “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interest of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).
My credit is not to be gained on this earth. My goal should be to save souls and to help others be more effective servants of God. If I can produce something that can help others accomplish that goal, then other people should be able to use it without first giving me a lot of money or credit. We are not competitors, but coworkers. We are on the same team! The apostle Paul was not worried about receiving credit. For example, Paul was in prison when he wrote the Book of Philippians. In the first chapter of that book, he wrote about some people who were preaching Christ out of envy or jealousy, thinking that by preaching they could somehow increase Paul’s affliction. However, Paul did not care. In fact, Paul rejoiced because people were being taught and saved (1:18). Who received the credit was not Paul’s concern. People were being saved; God was being glorified, and that was all that mattered. Whose glory are you seeking?
[Editor’s Note: There is a difference between permitting brethren to freely use the fruit of one’s labors and on the other hand, for instance, photocopying literature to avoid paying for additional copies. Circumventing the purchase of literature under ordinary circumstances by photocopying it instead of buying it prevents the authors and publishers of literature from recouping their investment to make it available in the first place. World Evangelism Literature gives away tens of thousands of books and tracts annually, bearing the expense as well for shipment throughout the world (through the gracious gifts of members and congregations of the churches of Christ). We provide digital material as well, such as through Gospel Gazette Online. We will work with precious souls stateside and abroad to make sure we accommodate everyone that we can with good, Christian literature. There is, though, a fine line between providing biblical resources widely, not concerned about who gets the credit, and those who may take unfair advantage of one’s good will in the matter. Besides this, honesty and ethical integrity would preclude someone from plagiarizing (e.g., word for word, punctuation mark for punctuation mark) another’s writing, claiming or implying that it is his own. With balance in mind, keep the goal of edification foremost before us. ~ Louis Rushmore]
Imagine for a moment that your life is represented by a circle. Inside that circle, in the very center, is a throne. On that throne sits, by your choosing, the ruling influence in your life. Who is sitting on the throne of your heart?
Some put their enemies on the throne of their hearts. These people allow their enemies to consume their lives because hate for their enemies controls their thoughts, their actions and their attitudes. Some put their friends on the throne of their hearts. Many allow their friends to dictate what they wear, what they say, what they do, even what they believe about God. Friends can be a blessing or they can be a curse. In the Bible, we read about Amnon who had the wrong kind of friends (2 Samuel 13). Even in the New Testament, we are warned, “Be not deceived: Evil companionships corrupt good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33). Most people, though, put self on the throne of their hearts. They say, “What’s in it for me?” and that becomes the determining factor in the lives of those who are dominated by self. If we will stop and think, however, the most miserable person and the most selfish person are one and the same!
Thus, we should put Christ on the throne of our hearts. If we want to experience an abundant life now (John 10:10) and an eternal life in heaven (Romans 6:23), we must allow Christ to rule our lives! Christ is Lord (Acts 2:36). The word “Lord” means master, owner; one who has power or authority over another. So, is He your Lord? You know He wants the best for you. Know this; Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). He has also said, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). In our individual lives, if Jesus is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.
Each of us will serve someone. Each of us will put someone on the throne of our hearts. It may be our enemies, our friends or loved ones, ourselves, Christ or some other. We are going to serve someone! Whom do you serve? Who is your lord? Who controls your life?