1 Kings 13:1 By the word of the Lord a man of God came from Judah to Bethel, as Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make an offering.
This particular story is interesting to me particularly because of the total anonymity of this “man of God.” That he was not a manifestation of the pre-incarnate Christ (as the “commander of the army of the Lord” in Joshua 5:13-15 is sometimes said to be) nor even an angel, is shown by the fact that he was later deceived by the “old prophet” who appears later in the story. He was used mightily by God, yet the only thing we know about him is that he came from Judah and was boldly obedient to God, at total risk of his own life. We tend to evaluate people on the basis of what other people say about them, but God knows absolutely everyone, and some of His greatest servants are totally unknown to the world at large. There are people today who are literally famous for being famous, out of no special virtue, ability or achievement. That’s about as meaningless as it gets! Sadly, this Information Age we live in teaches people to strive for exactly that, and gaining a following on social media is a major goal for many. The thing is, none of us are here forever, so being known and approved by God, who is forever, is unquestionably the better goal. I don’t doubt that the particular individual in this story is secure for eternity because of his faith and obedience, and there are countless more who don’t even have this much mention in human records. Our goal should not be the acclaim of men, but the simple words of our Lord, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21)
I can hardly say I am immune to the opinions of men, but I have been saved from seeking that as a major goal in my life. It is nice to be known, to be acknowledged, and misplaced priorities are always a temptation. This is particularly pointed at this moment because my father’s biography has just been published. It is a slim volume, doubly so because it is bilingual in Japanese and English. Part of me wants to promote that book all over the world, but I am very aware that my father himself wouldn’t care about that at all. The only benefit he would have seen in the book would be if it encourages others to seek God and be faithful to Him. I have had people encourage me to write my own life story, and that remains a possibility, as an expression of the gift for words that I have been given, but my concern likewise would be whether it would encourage people to follow God. (On top of that is the simple question of whether anyone at all would be interested in reading it!) What remains clear, however, is that self-promotion is not to be a goal. I’m sure the man of God in this story is deeply humbled to even be mentioned in the Bible, if he is at all aware of it. I am to strive consistently and tirelessly to draw close to my Lord and please Him, whatever that means in this world’s terms.
Father, thank You for this reminder. I am fairly well known in some circles, in part simply for longevity as a Caucasian in Omura. I continue to pray that the many people who know me or know of me would be drawn to You because of me. So many seem to care nothing about you at all! May my life be a demonstration of Your existence, Your love, grace, and faithfulness, so that people will repent of their indifference and believe You, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!