It is commonly believed that honour and glory belong to those who are rich and powerful. Everyone has great esteem for the Forbes and Fortune lists of billionaires, but how many will give the teachings or philosophy of a poor carpenter any serious thought? However, the Bible is filled with verses that suggest that our salvation is dependent on our believe in Jesus Christ, a poor carpenter who lived more than two thousand years ago (Cf. John 3:16,18,36; 8:24; 11:25-26). How can we reconcile these confilcting worldviews?
Jesus asked the Jews: “How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” (John 5:44)
Many of the Jews were studious of praise, and lived for pride, ambition, and vainglory. This desire, Jesus says, was the great reason why they would not believe in him. They were unwilling to renounce their worldly honours, and become the followers of one so humble and unostentatious as he was. They expected a Messiah of pomp and splendor, and would not submit to one so despised and of so lowly a rank. Had the Messiah come, as they expected, with pomp and power, it would have been an honour, in their view, to follow him; as it was, they despised and rejected him. The great reason why multitudes do not believe is their attachment to human honours, or their pride, and vanity, and ambition. These are so strong, that while they continue they cannot and will not believe. They might, however, renounce these things, and then, the obstacles being removed, they would believe.
A man cannot believe the gospel while he is wholly under the influence of ambition. The two are not compatible. The religion of the gospel is humility, and a man who has not that “cannot” be a Christian.
Great numbers are deterred from being Christians by pride and ambition. Probably there is no single thing that prevents so many people from becoming Christians as this passion. The proud and ambitious heart refuses to bow to the humiliating terms of the gospel.
Though while a man is under this governing principle he cannot believe the gospel, yet this proves nothing about his ability to lay that aside, and to yield to truth. That is another question. A child cannot open a trunk when he gets on the lid and attempts to raise his own weight and the cover of the trunk too; but that settles nothing about the inquiry whether he might not get off and then open it. The true question is whether a man can or cannot lay aside his ambition and pride, and about that there ought not to be any dispute. No one doubts that it may be done; and if that can be done, he can become a Christian.
The honour which comes from men is their praise, flattery, commendation; the honour that comes from God is his approbation for doing His will. God alone can confer the honours of heaven – the reward of having done our duty here. That we should seek, and if we seek that, we shall come to Christ, who is “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). Christ “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:8-11)
So what will our answer be if Christ asked us the same question he asked Martha (sister of Lazarus of Bethany) more than two thousand years ago, “Do you believe?”(John 11:26) ?
Let the hymn “He is Lord” remind us that Christ is our one and only Lord and Saviour: