A man is the sum total of his parts, and as the world likes to say, a man wants to leave his mark on the world. The total of all those parts are irrelevant if the purpose does not include the glory of God, not one mark he leaves will be legible after he is gone. “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.” (Eccl. 9:5)
The deeds, the pride, the accomplishments all echo the adversary’s words, “I will.” For the born-again believer to speak the words “Thy will” is not normal, the continuous battle between our pride and the leading of the Holy Spirit rages until our last breath, and although I may abate for short periods of time, it takes very little for the “me” in all of us to want more. More recognition, more accolades and acceptance of what we have accomplished.
The more a man submits to the will of God, the less he appreciates, or even seeks for this recognition, in fact when others attempt to place it upon him, he will not only not accept it, but he cannot understand why they would attempt to do so. He understands John 15:5, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” And so he wonders, are those who are attempting to heap praise upon his head serving the Lord and recognizing that the accomplishments were only done through this man, or are they, perhaps inadvertently at times, trying to lead him astray.
It is perhaps the most obvious and the most missed trap of Satan, self-recognition, pride, the small, subtle step that leads a man to believe that he must leave his mark. The “game,” if you will, is played out most subtly in the minds of many Christians, they understand that it is indeed the Lord that works through us for His glory, yet there is that five percent inside of us that wants recognition, and for some it is much more than that. What they will do is concentrate on rewards, the rewards of heaven, (1 Cor. 2:9) granted, most of them cannot tell you what they are, but even in those thoughts the tinges of pride will arise, for have they not been willing servants, devoting a large part of their lives to Christ, have they not sacrificed their time, their energies, did they not deny themselves those things of the world that were readily available to them. “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” (Rev. 22:12)
Far too many will deny themselves things here for the hope of that reward, and most cannot even tell you what it is. They believe that by denying themselves “here,” they will get more “there,” that by waiting patiently they have proven their worth. They cannot see that they are still attempting to leave a mark, they have missed the subtle influence of pride.
You can do nothing without me means just that, not one thing that will be written down about us will be recorded unless it was Christ that did the work, we are vessels, not potters, we bear fruit, we do not produce it. The lost, and even many who profess Christ as Lord, cannot seem to grasp that when a man of God says, “The glory goes to God,” that is what he means. Many will say we are being too modest, that the Lord is using us mightily and we should accept their accolades, but they do not understand yet that we can do nothing without Him.
It is the Almighty that decides how much He wants to place in a vessel, if He wants to make that vessel over again, or if He desires to make it one fit for destruction. (Romans 9:22) We are the clay, not the potter. “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?” (Romans 9:20) Those who have been crucified with Christ have one purpose in this life, to glorify God, the same purpose Christ has, and if you want to be Christlike, the first thing you must do is stop living for yourself, you must stop trying to leave even the smallest of marks. “Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42)