“And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” (1 Jn. 2:17)
From The High Standards of God for End-Times Christians
Every person has to examine his/her own motives. When the Holy Spirit puts a person forward as a preacher, evangelist, prophet, scholar, teacher, Christian movie-maker, or writer, then God is present to provide the measure of humility that is needed. This is what He did for the apostles after they disputed who would be the greatest. The last thing that God wants is for a Christian to reach the level of being able to serve and then fall to the temptation of spiritual pride that brought down Lucifer. Entering in at the narrow gate (Matthew 7:13-14) does not allow for Jesus plus worldly validation, acceptance, or acclaim. Our mission is to allow Jesus to glorify Himself in and through us in whatever we do. The correct spiritual equation of a walk of faith, is Jesus minus the need or desire for worldly recognition, validation, or acclaim. Unappreciated, unnoticed, thankless, humble, under-the-radar-screen service to God, when possible, is the safest spiritual place to be in Christian ministry.
Did Peter or Paul have to deal with the “advanced billing” of an exalted reputation that preceded them when they traveled to a new city to teach and preach? Of course they did. That is the reality of human nature. The city at large may not have heard of Peter or Paul, but the local Christian church looked forward with anticipation and “pride” that a great apostle (someone who had personally seen and heard Jesus Christ) was coming to speak to them.
Paul tells us how he stayed focused with the correct attitude. He told the Corinthians: “For I determined not to know any thing among you, except Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). Paul told the Galatians: “But God forbid that I should glory, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14). Paul actually says in 1 Corinthians 4:9 that God “hath set forth us, the apostles, last” in order to establish and maintain a humble context of evangelical outreach, starting at the bottom floor of the social scale, allowing for the broadest possible sweep of lost sinners into the kingdom of God.
Nearly every Christian at some time or another has heard the phrase or the concept “empty vessel for God’s use,” meaning that a person has been prepared by God for some type of ministry or service. But the question can be asked, empty of what? The answer is all of the things that prevent a person from being able to be used effectively by God—pride, self-will, arrogance, haughtiness, fear, self-centeredness, impatience, being judgmental, racial prejudice, social prejudice, personal ambition, and many similar things. All of these attitudes in some measure or another hold back people from being filled with the Holy Spirit power and anointing to minister the gospel to other people.
The Christian disciple who is empty of self and open to service, has stepped off of the throne of their heart and allowed Jesus Christ to take His rightful place there as God. Like a small child (Matthew 18:2), the Christian who is walking in faith and loving service to others is oblivious to the concepts of self-glorification and personal ambition. For the Christian disciple who has an empty vessel open to God for service, the Holy Spirit can prepare ahead of time people in need of ministry and bring them across our path for salvation, healing, deliverance, or encouragement. This is the formula that produces eternally beneficial results.
God knows our spiritual capacity. God knows the needs of people in our immediate, physical vicinity. The Holy Spirit can bring the two together. Our part is to be “prayed up,” live the quality of life that can produce the words of Life when called upon, to be willing and open to be used by God, and to give God the credit and the glory when we see positive results. This approach works for the most average of Christian disciples and for the greatest apostles like Philip, John, Paul, and Peter.
The way to greater power and anointing under the Holy Spirit, like that displayed in the lives of the first century apostles and disciples, is through the humility illustrated by Jesus when he placed the child in the midst of the apostles. The way to real spiritual power is not through succumbing to the temptation to become “somebody” in the Christian world, thereby mimicking what occurs in the conventional outside world. The spirit and attitude of the Christian is supposed to be the opposite of the spirit of this world. The most prepared person for God’s use is not “full” of themselves, but “empty” of themselves. The greatest among us are supposed to be the least in terms of haughtiness and worldly pride. The chiefest is supposed to be servant of all. The person who is truly walking in the Spirit is devoid of self-awareness and self-recognition.
Even experienced, mature, and savvy Christians walk a fine line in this area. As God transforms us into sons and daughters of light, we always have to recognize our need for God. The proud and arrogant cannot do this. That is why the process of salvation begins with humility and repentance, and continues that way as long as we draw breath on this earth.