"Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." — Matthew 23:12 (ESV)
I am sure that the people reading this article are mostly Christians. Most of the people reading this article probably believe in the Bible and believe that Christ is the Son of God, who came to earth to die for our sins. However, there is a problem that I am seeing over and over again that is becoming worse and worse throughout time. An issue that we seem to ignore and never quite bring to light. This is a problem that you may have, and one which I personally struggle with from time to time.
We are told all throughout the Bible to go out into all the world and preach to everyone (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; James 5:19-20; Acts 14:47, etc.). We must always strive to save the souls of the lost, guiding them to the narrow road. We must also encourage our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to keep and grow in the faith (1 Thessalonians 5:14; Hebrews 10:24-25, etc.).
I am not speaking about any one individual, but I do want to address a very prevalent problem: Taking studies and posting them to social media as a way of saying, "Look how spiritual I am!" Or marking in your Bible more just so that when you flip through it during the sermon, people see how much you study. Or getting tattoos with Bible verses or symbols to show people how devoted you are to God. Or parading in the streets and shouting, "I AM A GOOD CHRISTIAN!"
Before I continue, I am in no way saying that there is anything wrong with studying God's Word with whatever method you choose. There is nothing wrong with writing in the margins; there is nothing wrong with highlighting, color coding, Bible journaling, or any of that. I actually just bought a journaling Bible because I have learned that there is no such thing as too much margin space. In fact, I encourage you to find whatever study method works best for you, and use it! The more motivation you have to study, the more eager you will be.
Having said that, in no way should Christianity be used to glorify ourselves. In Luke 18, we are given the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. We often look to the tax collector here as an example, and we rarely even consider that we could be that Pharisee. However, countless people may not realize it, but they are just like the Pharisee here. People who devote themselves to God. This Pharisee was very devoted! In verse 12 he says that he fasts twice a week and gives tithes of all that he gets. This man was devoted. This man was putting his life in God's hands, and he was striving to be acceptable to Him. But even those who are incredibly faithful can get caught up in sin without realizing. Even those that have given up their lives for Christ can forget that they are serving Him, and not men (Galatians 1:10).
Sometimes we can get so caught up in our own Christianity that we forget that we are imperfect. However, we must never allow our glorification of God to blind us to our flaws. We must never allow ourselves to focus so much on the good that we neglect to fix the bad. What I am talking about is not the method with which one studies. What I am talking about is not about encouraging others to study God's word. What I am speaking of is where your heart is. Whenever we only study God's Word to glorify ourselves, whenever we post onto whatever social media we can, pictures of verses over beautiful backdrops, "stylish" sermon notes, and the most marked pages of our Bible, what is the intention? Where is our heart? Whom are we glorifying?
I am not saying that these things are wrong. However, whenever we do them just to lift up ourselves, who are we really glorifying? Is it God, or ourselves? Whenever we stand up and say, "I AM GOD'S!" rather than allowing our actions to prove that, who are we glorifying?
Again, I want to stress that I am not speaking about any one person. I am not saying that these by themselves are wrong. I think it is good when we encourage others to study and when we are not afraid to show others that we are faithful. Once again, what I am speaking about is intent. Is it your intention to glorify God? Is it your intention to inspire others? Or is it your intention to look good? Is it your intention to get more likes? Is it your intention to have others look at you and think, "Wow, they are so spiritual!" Is this your intention?
God never intended for us to use His Word to make ourselves look better. In John 8:54, Jesus says, "If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say 'He is our God.'" Jesus Himself says that even He cannot obtain His own glory. Jesus, who aided in the creation of all things (1 John 1:3). Jesus, who came to save men from their sins (John 11:25). Jesus, who was perfect, though underwent all kinds of temptations (Hebrews 4:15). Even He could not glorify Himself. How can we, then, glorify ourselves (Matthew 23:12)?
I do not want to discourage anyone from spreading the Word of God. I do not intend to hinder anyone from being confident in their faith. However, sometimes it is important to take a step back and ask yourself what your intentions are. Ask yourself if you are the tax collector or the Pharisee. Ask yourself what it is that you are trying to do. Are you glorifying God in all things? Are you focusing on Him more than yourself? Are you the tax collector? Or are you the Pharisee?
The Virtuous Woman is the TCT version of Jayla Sparks' blog, "Marvelously Modest". Its goal is to show that although the world teaches women that to be beautiful is to be of the world, to be steeped in sin, true beauty is being godly.
Hi! My name's Jayla Sparks and I'm 16 years old. I have been a Christian for about 3 years now. I enjoy activities such as reading, writing, playing piano, and baking. My goal in life is to aid as many people as I can to reach the heavenly goal.