Journal John 12 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “Isaiah said these things because he saw his (Jesus’) glory and spoke of him. Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it (so that they would not be put out of the synagogue—
for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. John 12:41-43
Observation: This is the pitfall of many people: Desiring the praise of man.
Analysis: I recognize my particular struggle here. I have had this struggle for a long time. There is probably a mitigating scripture verse somewhere in the Bible…but for the life of me, I haven’t found one yet.
Doesn’t this scripture reference sound like (applied to the face in the mirror) there is a tendency to avoid doing the right thing in the Gospel so that I won’t be talked about badly in the local church or community?
It is difficult because I don’t know if man is built to be completely ego-less. Man needs the pat on the back, the engaging and specific compliments—Man needs to be “encouraged day by day, as long as it is called today, lest any would fall into deceitfulness of sin.”
Here is my conclusion: 1) It is wrong to go looking for a compliment, to boast about yourself; 2) It is equally wrong to not be discerning when others need to be noticed, mentioned, congratulated, and encouraged.
I can get soooo wrapped up in myself that I am unaware of others. I am not discerning enough about others, which makes me wonder: How do I increase in discernment?
I am not asking “why” I need to increase in discernment (personally, I think that is kind of obvious. If I need to augment my eyesight, I get glasses or even binoculars. If I need to add something to my hearing, I get hearing aids. If I need to increase my awareness on a “spiritual” level, increasing discernment is the answer.)
So, again, how? Increasing discernment is two-fold. On the physical side, I can start cultivation of “…(d)oing nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count(ing) others more significant than yourselves.” (Phil 2:3) and listening more than speaking; asking questions and asking again; showing and having true interest in another’s life. That’s the Human Responsibility towards living the Gospel.
The spiritual: Discernment is a Spiritual Gift—ask for it, meditating on how not to abuse it—for the Gift of Discernment is just not convenient for understanding another’s issues, problems, and needs, it is the doorway to the gifts of Words of Knowledge and ultimately prophecy (as is practiced and is taught through the New Testament. (c. 1 Cor 14)).
The Authorities (referenced in the passage) and the Pharisees looked for applause and glory. I look for applause and glory—can’t help it, it is part of the Sin of Adam. But I can fight it in a healthy manner in the Name of Jesus, for God deserves all the Glory available in Creation. You know, that is one of the results of the Gospel—that, at the end of all things, God will be singularly, effectively, and in an all-encompassing way, be Glorified.
Prayer: Lord, there is an End to all things, a last Day, on the way to being the New Heavens and New Earth where you will be on the Throne and Joy will ring out over all Creation.
Until then, You call Man to hear and respond to the Gospel. To those that do, You call to pursue Yourself, grow in maturity in all things, being part of a local church, who reflects the power of the Gospel.
Help me increase in discernment, O God, that I may serve my fellow believers in an ever-growing manner. I want to grow in humility…
Ricky Two Shoes