If there’s anything that having been the managing editor of a magazine has revealed about myself, it’s that my flesh really does want glory. As a managing editor, I was required to keep track of the numbers of followers and engagement my brand magazine and website generated.
I became obsessed with social media, and I would catch myself on social platforms past my work hours. I wasn’t trying to be a good steward of my work responsibilities. I was craving attention, connection, and success. It was more than unhealthy; it was seeking glory.
When I seek my own glory, I’m loving myself primarily and exalting myself over God.
The consequences are numerous for seeking my own glory. First my relationship with God suffers. I don’t focus during devotion because I’m thinking about how I can do this or that better. I forget about the responsibilities I have at home or for my own health because seeking my own glory is more important.
It’s really ugly.
Proverbs 25:27 says, “It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory.” This connects to the earlier verse at 25:16, “If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it.”
If I draw on those two verses, when I take in too much of my own glory, my heart and soul and actions are like vomiting this profuse waste because I have no self-control to limit my eating of my own glory.
I am already struggling with wanting to seek after my own glory with this blog, and I’ve only been writing here again for a week or so. I’m thankful for the focus of this blog though: fighting sin, glorifying God, loving God, encouraging other women, and pursuing Christ in everything that matters. If my blog were its own breathing person, seeking its own glory would be its personal anathema.
There’s a temptation inside of me to be hypocritical and pursue glory, but more than anything I want to transform the community of Christian women in the US to love one another and love God the most. I can’t be used by God to do that, if it is his will, if I’m focused on numbers instead of his glory.
I know this is going to continue to be a thorn in my flesh, and so honestly, this article is for me more than it is for anyone else. I need to remind myself that Christ is more satisfying than any success, any accomplishment, any change. I also need you, reader, to help encourage me to follow after Christ not after myself. I welcome rebuke anytime you even get a whiff of self-exaltation.
Without Christ being at the center of this blog, all of this is totally meaningless.
Now, I would love to just be ascetic (abstaining with severe discipline) here and cut off my blog, leave all social media platforms, and call it a day. But that would just ignore my problem of loving my own glory.
It doesn’t matter what I do, I can seek my glory in anything.
I’ve sought my own glory in house cleaning, being a mom, being a wife, exercising, cook and eating, being Vanessa, being a teacher, and being a Christian. I can’t stop eating. I can’t decide I’m not going to be myself anymore. Asceticism changes behavior and substitutes it with another. It doesn’t deal with the heart.
How can you deal with the sin of the heart when you can’t give something up?
1 – Love God, Worship Him
If there’s no love in my heart for God, loving myself will come naturally. I can’t love someone I don’t know, and I can’t know someone if I’m not spending time with someone.
If you told me you loved me, I wouldn’t believe you. You don’t know me! You’ve never spent any time with me; you’ve never done anything for me. And if I compared your “love” to my husband’s profession of love, we both know who would win in that battle of loves.
Well, if I say I’m in love with God but I don’t think about him, read his letters to everyone (the Bible), talk to him (pray), sing praises to him (worship him), give him thanks for his specific gifts to me (the Cross and an abundance more) or have a humble heart toward him, my love for him is not a believable love. Just like your love for me.
As my love for God grows, my love for myself diminishes. The more I love God, the more I want his glory and am disgusted by my own infatuation with myself.
2 – Know the Word, Self-Preach the Gospel
John Piper has said to preach the Gospel to yourself each morning so your heart is singing and new, rejoicing at the mercy of each day. That’s a great way to help your heart readjust to focus on what matters in this momentary life. The Gospel can be succinctly explained by many preachers and believers, but knowing the verses that support those succinct summaries of the Gospel is important for having a Biblical-foundation of trust in the Gospel.
Knowing and mediating on the word is helpful in loving God more and fighting sin. I love that 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
By knowing scripture, I am training myself in righteousness. True righteousness is totally opposed to seeking my own glory and any other sinfulness.
What’s cool is that scripture is like a sword against sin. Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
Whew. Ready for a stab to the heart? Let’s open our Bibles and turn to Hebrews 2, 4, 6, 12, 13 and 1 Peter and 2 Peter. Enjoy your grace-filled conviction and tears.
In all seriousness, knowing what is sinful will help you to battle sin. If you’re oblivious to sin, it will fester and grow faster than cancer. In case you need a reminder of my own devastation with sin, here are links to my painful lessons through adultery and my husband’s struggle with forgiveness.
3 – Take Thoughts and Actions Captive
For some things, we know we’re in sin, but maybe we haven’t quite trained ourselves enough in righteousness to be able to completely resist the temptation when it comes. Therefore, we must be aware of how that temptation starts.
Paying attention to what I do with my time and what I’m thinking about is helpful. I struggle with thoughts of what happened during the adultery. Thinking about what happened is not profitable. It doesn’t point me to Christ, and often points me toward a mess of feelings including condemnation, retaliation, self-loathing, sexual temptation, and shame. I have to be conscious to take captive those thoughts and pray for grace, forgiveness, purity, and self-control.
Philippians 4:8 commands that believers think about what is profitable and holy, and anything attached to memories of the adultery is far from that.
For my struggle with social media, I do need to check it for my blog, but I don’t need to check it ten times a day. Paying attention to how many times I check or how many times I want to check can help me to assess how much I really need to fight my desire for glory.
4 – Confess Sin, Be Accountable
Confessing my sin to God is first, but I can’t just do that. First of all, my sin affects my whole family, not just me.
If I continue to engage on social media when my daughter asks me to read her a book, though I haven’t spent much time with her that day, that’s sinful. I’m putting a higher value on social media than her.
That’s so twisted!
Social media is fleeting, but my daughter is precious. My motherly responsibilities include to love, teach, and guide her through life, not waste time on social media.
So I’ve apologized to my kids, to my husband, and to my friends for misplaced attention. I’ve also confessed this struggle of seeking my own glory to my accountability partners, so they can ask about how I’m doing with this. I lean on the promise that if we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
5 – Learn From Other Believers and Teachers
Lastly, it’s a grace to have the introspection of God-honoring men and women written down in books and in blogs. We live in a world with a wealth of access to people like John Piper, John MacArthur, Tim Keller, Paul Washer, Jonathon Edwards, Dietrich Bonheoffer, and many, many, many more.
I also personally find that the more I’m fellowshipping with other believers, the more I rejoice in the work of God. We encourage one another by testifying to what God is doing in each of our lives. As believers, we are not meant to live out our faith apart from one another. When we try to do this, we become like a spark that’s been spit out of the campfire. It quickly burns out when not connected to the source of the flame.
*All verses are from the English Standard Version (ESV)
I’m curious if you also struggle with seeking your own glory. How have you battled this?
Please comment below
If you have any questions you would like to ask Bobby or Vanessa, please send a message to us via social media, comment below, or send an email to vanessa.jencks at gmail.com