Have you ever noticed the tenor of biblical exhortations? I think we sometimes fall prey to the error of seeing the Josephs, the Davids, the Elishas, the Daniels, the Peters, and the Pauls as heroic figures that were larger than life and impossible to emulate. That line of reasoning may emanate from mistaking the results of their lives for the aims of their lives. It may also be the fruit of an egoistical desire to be perceived as heroic or great in some manner.
While it is true that God does call and prepare some people for great endeavors (Moses, for example), and while it is true that exhortations sometimes take the form of encouraging us to “heroic” attitudes and behavior (“Be strong and of a good courage” [Josh. 1:6]; “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong” [I Cor. 16:13]), the general thrust of scriptural exhortations is not toward encouraging us to some single, gigantic heroic endeavor but to daily steadfast manifestations of the mind of Christ in faith and obedience.
The believer who daydreams about doing something great (or being someone great) has the wrong ambition. Greatness is not merely an elusive goal; for the believer it is an erroneous goal. It has the wrong focus: self-glorification. And it has the added problem of draining valuable energy from the proper focus: faithfulness to God’s Word that He might be glorified. Few people are less valuable than the hero wannabe. He sits around dreaming of heroic activities and waiting for greatness to be thrust upon him oblivious to the myriad “little” opportunities to serve faithfully and obediently that the Lord puts in his path each day.
Not one of the people mentioned in the first paragraph spent his life seeking to be great. Rather, all of them gave heed to God’s Word and obeyed Him in faith day-by-day. It was that attentiveness to the “minutiae” of faith that fitted them to do great things for the Lord. We were reminded in our Sunday evening service of the “Battle Plan for Victory.” It is simple: 1) “Walk in newness of life”; 2) “Walk not after the flesh”; 3) “Walk in the Spirit”; 4) “Walk honestly”; 5) “Walk worthy of your calling”; 6) “Walk not as the Gentiles walk”; 7) “Walk in love”; 8) “Walk circumspectly”; and 9) “Walk in wisdom.”
Following that pattern is the stuff of greatness. That’s not to say that everyone who faithfully obeys the Lord will become a recognizable hero. Quite the contrary, God is glorified not only by David’s mighty men who go out to battle but also by those who faithfully abide “by the stuff” (I Sam. 25:13; 30:24) as required. God is glorified by men who serve Him faithfully as they earn their living and by women who faithfully raise their children in the Lord.
We are not exhorted to be great, prominent, or impressive—those are natural ambitions. We are exhorted to be believing, faithful, obedient, and charitable. We are exhorted to be selfless, self-effacing, self-sacrificing. Given a scriptural understanding of the concept of goodness, we can truthfully say that we do not waste our lives because we fail to do something great; we only waste our lives because we fail to do something good.
Some may still become heroes of the faith, but that designation will not be the result of their seeking prominence; rather, it will be thrust upon them because they have selflessly abandoned the pursuit of their own will and desires that they might live wholly for the Lord. The exhortation is: “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (I Cor. 10:31). The results are in God’s hands.
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