By Xiaocao, China
God once said, “You shall have none other gods before me” (Deuteronomy 5:7). This is one of God’s commandments which we mankind must abide by. God is the Creator, the source of life for all things, who constantly supplies all things and rules over and controls all creation, so it is the law of heaven and earth that we creations obey and worship God. For us Christians, exalting God as great in our faith is of the utmost importance, because it directly concerns the big issue of whether we gain God’s approval. However, when faced with difficulties in daily life, we, rather than pray to and seek God first, often seek help from people we worship and admire. With our hearts occupied by people we look up to, we often fail to follow God’s commandment to exalt God as great.
So how can we truly exalt God as great? As for this question, my co-workers and I together sought guidance from God, after which we summarized three principles for practice. Now I’d like to communicate them with you and hope we can enter into this aspect of the truth together.
First, we must only have a place in our heart for God, not for any man, and neither should we worship nor look up to any man.
It is mentioned in the Ten Commandments, “You shall have none other gods before Me. You shall not make you any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth: You shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them: for I Jehovah your God am a jealous God” (Deuteronomy 5:7-9). This tells us that we believers in God cannot exalt and look up to any idol, because God is a God who hates evil. God’s words say: “People whoshould obey God and worship Him. You should not exalt or look up to any person.” These words tell us that we believers in God should worship God and only have God in our hearts. No matter what we encounter, we should seek and think about how to satisfy and glorify God. This is a proof that we have a place for God in our hearts. On the contrary, if we don’t act like this but turn to people we worship and admire for advice and blindly listen to them, regardless of whether or not their opinions conform to the truth and God’s will, then we are liable to be led astray. Seeking help from people we look up to in all things means that we see people as greater than God in our hearts, and that we are actually worshiping man and looking up to man. Just as those Jewish people recorded in the Bible—they didn’t exalt God as great, so when the came to work, they, though hearing Him speak with authority and power, still went to ask the chief priests and Pharisees whether He was the Messiah; when the Pharisees denied the Lord Jesus as the arrival of the Messiah and even judged and condemned His work, because they thought the chief priests and Pharisees understood more knowledge of the Scripture they blindly worshiped and listened to them, following them in condemning and rejecting the Lord Jesus, and in the end lost the Lord’s salvation. Meanwhile, there were some other people who, unlike those Jewish people, could honor God as great, such as Peter, John, and the Samaritan woman. Though at that time many Jewish Pharisees resisted, condemned, and spread rumors to slander the Lord Jesus’ work, doing everything they could to prevent people from following Him, these people didn’t blindly believe the rumors, but carefully investigated the Lord Jesus’ words and work with a God-fearing heart. When they found that the Lord Jesus’ words and utterances had authority and power and were all the truth, they recognized that He was the Messiah they had yearned for, and thus followed Him without hesitation and finally gained His salvation.
So today if we don’t exalt God as great in all things, we are also prone to blindly looking up to and worshiping people, especially those pastors and elders who are familiar with the Scripture and can talk about some profound theological knowledge. For example, some of us, when faced with big events like getting married, having kids, buying a house, or finding a job, would immediately seek the pastors and elders for advice instead of praying to and looking to God to seek His will; some have to ask for the pastors’ and elders’ permission before they go to listen to other sermons, and even have them determine whether it is the true way. Are these people the true believers in God? Definitely not! They actually have no place for God in their hearts, not to mention exalting God as great. In comparison to them, there are some people who can pray to and rely on God and seek His enlightenment and guidance when encountering things, who can unyieldingly put God’s words into practice without being constrained by any person—they are the ones who exalt God as great, who will gain God’s care and protection as well as His blessings, because the Lord Jesus once said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you: For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).
Second, in serving God, we should exalt God and bear witness to God in all things, put God first and let God reign in our hearts.
God’s words say: “Man should not magnify himself, nor exalt himself. He should worship and exalt God.” This is one of God’s administrative decrees which must be obeyed by each of us believers. As people who serve God, it is even more our duty to exalt God and bear witness to Him in all things, and to lead our brothers and sisters to obey and worship God. If someone brings the brothers and sisters in front of himself, he is definitely not a person who exalts God as great. For example, some people, when preaching sermons, only focus on explaining Bible knowledge and theological theory to show themselves off so that others will regard them highly and look up to them. They neither communicate how to practice the Lord’s words and follow the Lord’s way, nor fellowship the truth or witness what God has and is or His intentions, but like to make others follow rules. As a result, after their years of service, people they lead, instead of gaining some knowledge of God, actually get more and more familiar with them and even worship them as idols in their hearts. Obviously, they are vying with God over status and their service is that which resists God—how could people like this be approved by God? Let me use an example that might not be very appropriate: A mother has to go out for work in order that she can raise her child, so she hires a nanny to look after her child. Unexpectedly, after a period of time, the nanny actually says to the child, “You should call me mom. The woman you called ‘mom’ before is not your real mother. I’m your real mother.” Don’t you think this nanny is rather despicable? Similarly, if we don’t exalt God and bear witness to God in all things, but rather bring the brothers and sisters into our presence, then it proves that we don’t have a place for God in our hearts, and that we are not serving God but are managing our own status. But if we exalt God and testify to God in all matters, fellowship our own experiences and testimonies of practicing the Lord’s words, and lead the brothers and sisters to put the Lord’s words into practice so that they can rely on, obey and exalt the Lord as great, then it can be said that we are serving God and fulfilling our duties for satisfying God. And only such kind of service is after God’s heart. Take Peter as an example. He never asked people to worship him during his service, but only focused on communicating the Lord Jesus’ words and his own experience and knowledge of them, leading the believers to know the Lord’s salvation and love for mankind. It is recorded in Acts 10:25-26: “And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.” From these two verses of Scripture, we can see that Peter didn’t want others to look up to him, and so he made it clear to them that though he could work for the Lord, he himself was still a corrupt man whom could not be worshiped. So in our service, we should imitate Peter, helping our brothers and sisters gain knowledge of God through our fellowship and know how to rely on and look up to God in difficulties. This is also a manifestation of exalting God as great.
Third, faced with things we don’t understand, we should have a reverent heart for God and never speculate about them at will.
Jehovah God said, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways” (Isaiah 55:8). From this verse, we can see that we humans will never be able to fathom what God says and does. So as created beings, we should have hearts that revere God, and not arbitrarily judge and guess whatever comes from God. God’s words say: “Your heart should be ever reverent before God, you should be moderate in your words and actions….” God’s words tell us this: No matter what the circumstance, in doing and saying things, we should have principles and act according to the truth; we should seek the truth and the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit with a reverent and obedient heart for God; when we can’t understand God’s work thoroughly, we shouldn’t judge or speak carelessly, but should just say what we have understood. As for the part we don’t understand, we should pray to God and seek the truth instead of blindly analyzing and judging according to our minds. As we all know, when Job lost his livestock that filled the mountains and all his children and had his body covered with sore boils, although he couldn’t understand why these things befell him, he didn’t use his notions and imaginings to judge and complain against God, or sin with his lips, but prayed to and relied on God with a reverent heart, and obeyed His sovereignty and arrangements, standing witness for Him. Job’s three friends, however, didn’t have a reverent heart for God; they randomly made guesses and judgements about Job, thus provoking God’s wrath. The Pharisees are another example. When the Lord Jesus came to work, seeing that His work and words didn’t conform to their conceptions and imaginations, they arbitrarily judged and condemned His work without the tiniest bit of fear in their hearts, and even conspired with the Roman government to crucify the Lord Jesus, offending God’s disposition and thus suffering His punishment. Therefore, we must not jump to conclusions about things we don’t understand. Especially at the crucial moment for the Lord’s return in the last days, we must have a heart of reverence in regard to the Lord’s return. We shouldn’t define God’s appearance and work according to our own imaginations as the Pharisees did, but should act like people such as Peter, Jacob, and John who could humbly seek and investigate the Lord’s work and words and follow Him. This is the only way to witness God’s appearance and the Lord’s return, and also a manifestation of exalting God as great.
Brothers and sisters, I believe through today’s fellowship each of you have gained some knowledge about how to exalt God as great. As long as we put these three principles into practice, we will certainly become people who exalt God as great. Just as God’s words say, “Start practicing the way of fearing God and shunning evil from this point forward; manage to honor God as great in all things; don’t use your own personal fancies, viewpoints, or beliefs to define yourself, define God. And instead, you seek out God’s intentions in all respects, you achieve a realization and understanding of God’s attitude toward humanity, and you use God’s standard to satisfy God—that would be wonderful!”
All the glory be to the unique God!