Spiritual Trophies

“I led Ignatias Fibwitz to the Lord last week.” I hear this line, in various forms, quite frequently. Indeed, I heard it just last evening. “I led this person to the Lord,” or “I led that person to the Lord.” I get it. I understand what the person saying this means, yet, I confess that the line makes me just a bit uncomfortable.

Far too often, I see this phrase tossed out as a spritual trophy in much the same way as some collegiate football players earn dozens of stickers for their helmets for making yet another great tackle, a sack, an interception, or for accomplishing some other heroic feat on the gridiron.

A gentleman named Jason Robért has published a book with the title How I Led Over 700 People to Christ in a Year: How to Lead People to the Lord Easily and Successfully. I cannot even get past the title of the book, much less make a purchase and read it. Hopefully, it comes with a Ginsu Knife. How many people have you led to the Lord? That few, huh? Here, take a look at my helmet! And I did that in one year!! Read my book.

In the conventional understanding of the phrase, I have lost count of how many people I have “led to the Lord.” But the reality is, I would set that number at zero. I did not lead anything or anyone. What I did was open my mouth and speak. I opened my Bible and read. I prayed for specific men and women, and when the opportunity presented itself, or when the appointed time came, I spoke. That is it. Anything beyond that was out of my hands.

Jesus said in John 6:44a “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him,” (NASB). How arrogant of me to say that anyone’s response to the grace of God and gospel of Jesus Christ is anything but the work of God, that in some way it was my doing?

This parading of trophies is the flip-side of a problem with which the believers in the church at Corinth struggled.

For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men? What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.” (1 Cor 3:3b-7, NASB)

Here we find a bunch of church folks trying to outdo one another with their spiritual one-upmanship, based on who it was that taught them the gospel. “Oh, I was taught by Paul, so clearly I am in a whole different spiritual league than you!” Really? Is that how we are to relate to one another? Paul was nothing. Apollos was nothing. God gave the increase! (KJV)

Resist the urge to toot your horn. We are servants of the Master Most High. That is all. In the end, rather than displaying all our gold medals, here is the banner that should hang on our doors, straight from the lips of Jesus: “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.'” Luke 17:10 (NASB)

Victoriously in Christ!

– damon

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Damon Gray

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