Glory to God

I have discipled a lot of hurting Christians who struggle with the concept of doing all to God’s glory. They reason: God gave me lousy parents. I had no money for a decent education. I’ve been mistreated by others my whole life. Now God wants me to stroke His ego and build His kingdom! People don’t naturally glorify God if they believe that it was God who dealt them the bad hand. Additionally, defeated Christians struggle giving glory to another when they are desperately in need of affirmation themselves. Some believers have a “worm” theology, thinking that God is everything and they are nothing. Jesus didn’t die for nothing. How is God being glorified if His children grovel in some pitiful existence living defeated lives?

If I had to pick a rising star in evangelical circles, this man would have been at the top of my list. He was an excellent student, and an outstanding communicator with a winsome personality. He accepted the challenge of a small pastorate, but he failed morally. After attending one of my conferences this very gifted, intelligent and personable man wrote me the following:

I’ve always figured I was just a no-good, rotten, dirty, stinking sinner, saved by grace yet failing God miserably every day. And all I could look forward to was a lifetime of apologizing every night for not being the man I know He wants me to be. “I’ll try harder tomorrow, Lord.”

As a first-born son, I spent my life trying to earn the approval of highly expectant parents. I’ve related to God the same way. I felt He just couldn’t love me as much as other, “better” believers. Oh sure, I’m saved by grace through faith, but I’m just hanging on until He gets tired of putting up with me here and takes me home to finally stop the failure in progress. Whew, what a treadmill!

Neil, when you explained our new identity in Christ, you totally blew me away. Isn’t that strange, that a guy could go through a good seminary and never latch on to the truth that he is a new creation in Christ? This has been so helpful and liberating to me. I’m beginning to grow out of my old ways of thinking about myself and about God. I don’t constantly picture Him as disappointed in me any more. If He can still love me, be active in me and find use for even me, after I’ve failed Him as badly as I have, then surely my worth to Him can’t be based on my performance. He just plain loves me. Period!

What a new joyful walk I’m experiencing with Him. Praise God. I have been so deeply touched by the realization of who God is and who I am in Christ. Each day of service is a direct gift from God, and I bank each one carefully in heaven’s vault for all eternity to the honor and glory of my Savior.

Dr. Neil

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