I confess. I’m a chronic thief. Almost everyday, something inside of me, something irresistible, drives me to steal. It’s as if I’m unaware of my looting. In fact, unless I consider my previous actions and motives, I usually excuse myself from any wrongdoing. It’s as if I do it and don’t even realize I’ve done it until it’s been done. Not only that, but it’s habitual. I do it daily, sometimes more than once a day.
But I’m good. In fact, I’m so good at it that you probably don’t notice. I’ll bet that I’ve done it right in front of your very eyes and you probably have never even suspected me. You’ve probably never noticed what was missing or that anything had been taken. More than likely, I fooled you into thinking that I was actually giving, not taking. I’m slick, I’ll tell you, slick…
What is it that I’m so good at stealing? What thing is it that I am so talented at slipping right out from under your nose and replacing with a look alike, substitute, while you, and sometimes even I, remain unaware? It’s glory, but not your glory. It’s God’s glory. I’m a chronic and habitual thief of God’s glory.
I constantly find myself, after the fact, wondering why I do what I do. In fact, as I write this blog I am asking myself why. I’m not actually asking what the purpose of the blog is but what is my purpose in writing it. Do you see the nuance there? I am not questioning the blog itself; rather, I am questioning my motive in writing it. I realize that there should only be one ultimate goal in view, yet I also realize that it is much more complicated than that. I may have, as a peripheral or a primary goal, the glorification of God. I probably though, have in mind, at least somewhere in my conscience, my own glorification. Sure, I want people to see the glory and the majesty of Christ, but I cannot deny that somewhere in myself, I want people to see me. I want people to see my individuality, or talent, or ingenuity, or closeness to Christ, or self-realization of my own depravity, or craftiness, and the list goes on. Do you see it? I’m stealing God’s glory. I am taking something only He should have. I am not after it in totality, only little pieces. I may not be overtly trying to steal it. It may be that I only realize my tainted motive in retrospect. I am doing it all the same.
This is hard to explain to people. People generally believe that their motives are generally pure when it comes to ministry. In a recent event in which I worked with some co-ministers on a very heart wrenching issue, we each did lots of introspection of our motives. It was the type of situation in which we wanted to make sure that we were transparent with ourselves, and our congregation as well. It was serious and we knew that any selfish ambition would not be helpful and could be catastrophic. The more I prayed and the more I studied my own motivations, the more I understood my depraved nature. Because of the serious nature of our quest, I spoke freely of my own lack of purity. I’m not sure that I wasn’t misunderstood to be self-ambitious rather than simply self-consumed.
Maybe this is a problem that is intrinsic to myself alone. Maybe I have no accomplice, there are no collaborators, no conspirators. I know this; I am a man who is consumed with self. My motives are perforated with ideas of self-aggrandizement. I am consumed, chronic, habitual, and helplessly criminal. I pilfer, plunder, and embezzle the glory from God. My King has entrusted me with his treasure, and I sneak little pieces out in my pockets. I line my coffers with stolen loot owned by my gracious King. It is his alone and he will have it, I know. This is why I hold so tightly to his grace, why I am so desperately in need of his mercy. He knows me better than I know myself. I can not hide my nibbling of his treasures. It is useless to lie to him as I speak of my plans to promote his Kingdom while I also conspire to promote myself. Oh, he sees my petty pilferage. He smells the rat who he allows to roam his castle vault. He is a jealous God. It is a dangerous place to be, between God and his glory, and I stand there, red-handed.
I don’t believe that I stand here alone…