Many of the great heroes of the Bible were humble people. They weren’t out to get fame for themselves, or the admiration of their peers.
Think of Moses, who was reluctant to move away from his role as an obscure shepherd in the wilderness to confront Pharaoh as leader of Israel. He is described as:
very humble – more humble than any other person on earthNumbers 12:3 (NLT)
Or we could consider David, who was willing to be considered undignified and humiliated in front of those who viewed themselves as better, in order to worship God (see 2 Samuel 6).
Whatever our role as Christians, whether in leadership or just an ordinary church member, in service great or small, we should not be drawing attention to ourselves, but instead live lives that point to and glorify God:
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name goes all the gloryPsalm 115:1 (NLT)
He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.John 3:30 (NLT)
I don’t think we really get this right. We have our revered leaders and favourite preachers or authors who we look up to and follow. Yes it’s good to respect others, but it can and often does go too far. They are at least in part the ones that get the glory, not God.
One of the reasons we should work together as Christians is so that God gets the glory. We may think that we have it right and that it’s best if people join our church, and have the same theology as us. But if we (and those like us) are really the only ‘sound’ ones does that not mean that the glory goes to us? But if instead we work and worship together, there is no particularly group or leader that is promoted above others, rather we work and serve together as God’s children and the glory goes to Him.
We certainly should only do and believe what we are convinced is right in our own mind, but we usually go beyond that. We fail to realise that we almost certainly won’t have got things correct on some issues, and yet we insist that things should be as we believe, and that to be a ‘proper’ Christian people should be largely like us.
It seems that Paul had various ‘enemies’ who were jealous of the position that he had. They presumably though that they would do a better job as a leader in the early church and that others should follow and look to them instead of Paul. No doubt some of them would argue for this in theological terms, that they were more faithful or more suitable leaders, it was better for the other believers to follow them etc. They then went around preaching about Jesus to draw people to themselves and make matters worse for Paul.
But I love Paul’s response here, saying:
But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false, or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice.Philippians 1:18 (NLT)
This is a great attitude to have. As long as people are telling others about Jesus, and putting Him as the one we need in life, then we can rejoice, even if we would do many other things differently.
Who do we want to get the glory? God? If so, then it’s His church (all of it) we must uphold, not ours.