Note from Joanna: Sue Edwards is our guest blogger today and this is a message that is close to my heart! You can find out more about Sue at the end of the post.
Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips. Proverbs 27:2
Have you ever gone through boxes of old unlabeled pictures to find that you can’t identify your own relatives? You may resemble them, but you don’t know their story. Did they make a name for themselves? Even if your grandmother’s generation knew their name, we have forgotten it.
Solomon laments: No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them. (Ecclesiastes 1:11) One day our children’s children will hold up a picture of us, and say “Who’s that?” Sobering, isn’t it! But God never forgets our name. Still, something in us wants to make a name for ourselves. And a good name is an honorable pursuit, but is making a name for ourselves a worthy enough goal to spend our lives on? No. But our flesh may not agree.
Jesus offers related instruction in Luke 14:7-11. He’s eating dinner at the home of a big-name Pharisee, and the guests vie for seats of honor at the dinner table. It’s nauseating Pharisaic self-promotion. Jesus was appalled. He took the lowest seat, and from there instructed us to take the seat of least importance too. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
Jesus advises us to go low. If we do, we will need to be content with a name no one knows. Resist that subtle sin of self-promotion, a heart attitude that elbows its way to the head table. It’s tough to go low! Our flesh yearns for recognition, enjoys accolades. That’s natural. Giving and receiving praise is fine but it must not drive us. Daily we navigate that tension. Jesus says, let others praise you, and not your own voice.
As a new believer, my flesh clamored for attention. It’s worse for those of us raised in homes that denied us unconditional love. We can go through life attempting to prove our parents wrong. I am worth something. I will make a name for myself and they’ll see. But that is self promotion and sin.
For years, God assigned me to small places. I taught in small Bible studies and retreats. I remember my flesh whispering, maybe it was the enemy, small numbers, small stuff–doesn’t count for much, no one knows your name. Maybe one day you’ll do something significant for Jesus. So subtle, so insidious.
Does the enemy whisper these lies to you? Don’t believe it. Instead, determine to go low, and make a name for Jesus. If you do, He promises to one day raise you up, and He’s the One who deserves those accolades anyway.
Sue Edwards is associate professor of Christian education with a specialization is women’s studies at Dallas Theological Seminary where she has the opportunity to equip men and women for future ministry. Her Bible studies have ushered thousands of women all over the country and overseas into deeper Scripture study and community experiences.
She writes Bible studies to carry women deep into God’s Love Letters, hoping the words turn their lives upside down much the same way they revolutionized her own life. Writing is her way of reaching women that she cannot connect with one-on-one.
Sue has been married to David for more than forty years. They have two married daughters and five grandchildren.