Reach • Devotional #5: “God’s Glory”

Have you ever watched or listened to a preacher or teacher and wondered about their motivations? I find myself listening to “big name” preachers from time to time and sometimes I get the feeling that, even though they are preaching the Bible, they are not looking to give God the glory. Instead, they are using the Bible as a prop for their platform.

In 1 John 4:1, God speaks through John to give believers this warning, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” John is writing to a people he loves dearly, calling them, “Beloved.” Because he cares for them deeply, he warns them to test prophets and preachers. This same instruction applies to believers today. Just because a sermon is circulating on Facebook does not mean it is credible. Even though a song claims to be by a worship band and it sounds really good, that does not mean it is worth singing. The test that John gives to see if it is from God or not is this, “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already” (1 John 4:2-3). A preacher or Christian artist that does not magnify the work of Christ is not worth listening to.

Paul also talks about this in 1 Thessalonians, which we have been studying. In 1 Thessalonians 2:5-6, speaking of his preaching motivations, he says, “For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed – God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ.” Paul’s motivation was God’s glory, making His name great, not his own. He could have made demands but chose not to, only preaching the work of Christ through simple words, not flattery.

I listened to a podcast recently about the collapse of a megachurch. As the podcast went on, it became clear that the reason this church grew so rapidly was that the leader was charismatic and an entertaining preacher. People came to hear him. For that same reason though, the church collapsed. When motivations are not pure, ultimately, it will crumble because it does not have the blessing of God.

As you share the Gospel, is your motivation to make God’s name great? If so, God will bless and use those words. As you take in sermons and music, are those leaders preaching Christ or themselves? Test the spirits, if it is not for God’s glory, it is not worth consuming.

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