Posted by: mikenicholsblog | January 17, 2010

who knows

Can I tell you how much I love the gospels?!  So much truth at every turn!  You can’t “look” away for even a single verse, or you may miss something amazing.

In one of the very first verses of our Matthew readings last week, I was confronted again with a phrase that, until recently, I have to admit I hadn’t really noticed.  I say confronted again, because some more recent reads and studies of the gospels have brought this phrase to the forefront of my attention.  Matthew chapter 8 begins with the story of Jesus healing a man with leprosy.  As I began to read the words of verse 4, the confrontation recurred … “Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone.” The verse ends with part B of Jesus’ instruction, that the man present himself to the priest and offer a sacrifice as a testimony.  But it is part A that spoke to me so profoundly.  You find similar instructions from Jesus several times scattered throughout the gospels.  It occurs again in verse 30 of Matthew chapter 9.  Jesus heals two blind men, and as verse 30 ends, we read  … Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.”

There were multiple reasons, the multiple times He gave similar instructions.  But I believe there is a consistent and relevant spiritual application, in our personal pursuit to model Jesus in front of others.  We may not have the ability to physically heal, as Jesus did on both these occasions.  But we do have the opportunity to serve and minister to others in humility and anonymity.

How many times have I served and helped, with just a bit too much “me”?  Judging my motives and desires in retrospect, and finding varying degrees of self-interest and gain.  We’ve all fallen victim to reaching down, or reaching out to help someone, only later to find ourselves telling the story and receiving praise for the charity we showed.  How hard it is to truly serve in silence, and simply leave it at the feet of Jesus.  But how much more is God glorified when we do?!  We may not intend it, but every ounce of praise that stops with us, is that much less than goes to its rightful recipient.

God knows our human frailty.  And in challenging you with this thought, I do not pretend to assert that you should shun even the tiniest hint of praise that is offered in your direction.  He knows us, and wants our best.  And He sends encouragement our way from time to time, in the form of kind words.  But our desire should always be for the praise to not end with us.  But rather be redirected to the only One that is truly worthy of it.  And when we serve, always meet the opportunity with humility and a genuine desire for anonymity.  It is only from that heart attitude, that we can truly model our Savior and the living legacy he left us.

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