In the past 7 years, the hardest Christian concept for me to grasp has been understanding how to give God the glory and remain humble.
I’m a do-er by nature. I don’t sit still very well. I’m also very transparent; I don’t have much to hide. And the things I “hide” from people are just things that would gross them out or things I know not everyone can appreciate.
I thought being humble meant I could never talk about the cool things happening all around me and in me! I learned a hard lesson in separating the definitions of bragging and letting God have the glory… uh multiple times actually. I think it’s perfectly biblical to help others. And I also think it’s completely against biblical teaching to let your good deeds shine for all to see. I think that’s bragging.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16
“Um Ann, you just contradicted yourself.”
“Actually, no. I didn’t.”
(pretend conversation between you and me, in case you were wondering)
Jesus says to let our LIGHT shine so that they may see our good deeds – the good deeds that are meant to glorify God, not ourselves. I have come to understand that when Jesus is IN me, I am the light of the world. When I am not representing Jesus and glorifying God (AKA bragging), I am like one of those cheap little flashlights that you have to smack on the side to fire up the puny little light bulb. I admit it, sometimes I need a good smack on the side of the head.
I tried on humility like you try on 15 pairs of jeans before you find the ones that fit right. Each time I failed and I could feel myself wanting to brag. The desire to brag never went away. But this weekend was different.
Our church hosts an incredibly cool fall picnic each year called Punkin’ Chunkin’, and I had the pleasure of co-leading it for the second year in a row. The event was to be held on Sunday afternoon. Now, if you’ve ever planned a party you know that the planning and purchasing starts months in advance. Hosting a church picnic is no different. The set-up we did on Sunday was like putting the last few pieces into a puzzle… it was almost complete.
And then it started to mist. And rained. And misted. And it was super cloudy outside.
I couldn’t stop praying, in fact I think I might have been begging in there at some point. “God, this picnic is for your people to celebrate all you have done, PLEASE take the rain away! I don’t need sun or anything drastic, just no more moisture! Please bless our efforts to spend this kingdom money wisely, bless our time spent planning so that your children can embrace joy and community for three hours today! Let people see a great example of a healthy and non-judgmental Christian community here on the land you have given to us!
One of the families that was helping us set up in the rain had a precious 7 year old girl and her prayer was this, “God, please stop the rain.” I saw her resting her elbows on a pumpkin, praying for God to stop that rain. And you know what? He did. Not a drop fell on us at our event.
So in the end, when people were congratulating us on a job well done guess what happened? I knew it wasn’t all me, or all my co-leader, or all the volunteers… I completely felt 100% secure giving God the credit. Through Him we had multitudes of people wanting to serve. Through Him we had joy and safety and blessings. It was for Him, and through Him, that the picnic was a successful event.
And yes, I let my light shine for all to see.
No, I did not let my good deed shine for all to see.
And in reference to the C.S. Lewis quote above, I was able to accept the compliments and the thanks from people for a job well done because it was indeed a lot of hard work and planning. However, I was very quick to make sure that my thanks led to God getting the spotlight.
And guess what?
It wasn’t hard.
Because my heart is finally in the right place.
And my cheap flashlight is in the trash where it belongs.