“I have made a fool of myself but you drove me to it.” II Corinthians 12:11
In Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth some asked him to boast of his apostleship, to prove that he carried the weight of other philosophers and religious teachers who peddled their preaching for profit. Paul refused, saying that such boasting was foolish.
He finished with a swipe of sarcasm. “How were you inferior to other churches, except that I was never a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong!”
I'm glad that Paul did not charge for his preaching or demand royalties on his writings but I wonder if his message would be respected in today's climate.
We live in an age of self promotion. We ware clothing with designer labels on the outside of the garment, drive cars with spinning rims and loud music and pierce our body with gold-studded nose rings. We shout, "I WANT TO BE NOTICED."
Even in the world of publishing authors and writers need a “platform” in order to be taken seriously. The publishers ask, can they draw a crowd, motivate the masses and hawk their book?
But Paul was right when he warned that we should hold our tongue and keep silent. Boasting only brings us sorrow. In some cases it defines our legacy.
“I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” - President Clinton, Jan. 26, 1998, months before he redefined the nation’s definition of sex.There’s a saying among fishermen that states; “A whale never get’s harpooned until it spouts off.” Before you spout off about your good deeds, righteousness and standing before God remember the whale. Or, at least, remember our former American Presidents.
“Read my lips: no new taxes.” – President George H. W. Bush August 18 1988, two years before he raised taxes.
“I am not a crook.” - President Nixon, Nov. 17, 1973, nine months before he resigned from office.
I laid in the grass gazing up at the sky. The winter winds had died down and the sky had lost its grayness giving way to the glistening of a crystal clear blue. Tuffs of clouds eased across the sea of turquoise as a boat sailing on the calm of a quiet ocean. Reaching my arm upward, I imagined to grab hold of the bow and slip aboard the ship. Once aboard, I hung my hand from the craft and dragged my fingers in the coolness of the color. It felt refreshing, easy – restful.
The Father was there, His sailing hat cocked to one side of His head and a content smile showing just the edge of his teeth. So, I asked Him, “How is it that this sea of sky is so peaceful?” He walked to my side and leaned across the railing scooping a hand of blue.
“The glassy sea that rides so smooth are my works done for you. Things provided for you out of love, compassion and necessity. Things done quietly –but done nonetheless.
Suddenly a wave swept across the tiny boat. I was soaked with a darkness. Stained with a color I’d not seen before and when I cried to the Father, “What is this?” The boat rocked with a violently.
“This is the boasting of man over his works. He shows no humility, knows nothing but what pleases himself or lifts him high before his peers. It’s a rough way, filled with selfishness,” the Father replied. With a motion of His hand He pushed the boat aground, then climbed out and started His walk along a white sandy beach, head hung and somewhat sad.
“What do I do?” I shouted as the distance grew between us. He turned and lifted His hand, cupping it around His mouth whispering on the wind.
“The works of a servant are done because they must be done. They are done because the servant loves his master, done in silence, and without expectation. When the master pays the servant a nod, the servant blushes and directs the attention to others who may have helped. His deeds are given in love and with no desire for praise. They are not boasted over. Simply done.”
Works are a reflection of our hearts – an expression of our faith. When given in with the right intention, God is pleased, even proud of His servant. But when given in a haughty, boastful manner their effectiveness is lost. The calm blue of the sky becomes riddled with waves. What do people see in you? Do they see the face of a servant looking through the eyes of the Father? This is the heart of a servant: humble and meek, giving freely of himself and expectant of nothing – content in everything.