Reputation and Discipleship

Reputation and Discipleship

“But made himself of no reputation…”
Philippians 2:7

The God and creator of the universe made Himself of no reputation. He was not motivated by the approval of men, He required no support system to propagate His message. He did not need marketing efforts and promotional strategies for the proliferation of His purposes. He was born in a lowly stable, raised by simple folks in a village of no regard as evidenced by the question “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46)

This passage has deep things that can be learned in our own interaction with Him in this world. There is a freedom from strife, from craving recognition and acceptance. Sooner or later there comes an acknowledgment that truth requires nothing but His Spirit to stand. We stand in His righteousness, His merit, and we are fully dependent upon His Fire burning within our own hearts. We are to be witnesses of Him, not of ourselves, and for that reason we feel the great responsibility to be faithful to represent Him.

Humility is a fruit of the Spirit rooted in the power of relationship.

“Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that, he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.”
John 13:3

Jesus’ ability to gird Himself as a servant and to wash their feet was based on the security of being in a right and pure relationship with His heavenly Father. His freedom was a revelation of true power; to Peter, it was an offense. Service to God will often offend the carnal aspirations of men. The same freedom that allowed the Son to speak the truths of the Kingdom of God without restraint is to become ours. Freedom from self allows us to be free in His Spirit. There can be no true freedom in Christ while we cling to the corruption of self.

As we walk with Him in the experiential realities of life we discover the taint and malaise of self. We see it in our interactions with others, in our own internal conflicts, and in the hidden motives of our hearts. Thankfully He is faithful to correct us, and we must be willing to heed those corrections. Failure to do so will result in selfish living and disappointment.

“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.”
Matthew 6:1

There is a precious internal work of the Holy Spirit whereby our intentions are freed from the lust of the acceptance of men to live for His approval only.

“Because of this, we also are striving to be pleasing to Him,
whether being at home, or being away from home.”
2 Corinthians 5:9

Why was Paul so passionate about this?

“For we all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive the things done through the body, according to what he did, whether good or bad.”
2 Corinthians 5:10

Only by the fear of the Lord are we freed from the fear of men. Accountability to God frees us to live right and to walk right. He who made Himself of no reputation will free us to do the same

True humility is always predicated on the power of truth.

“If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
John 8:31-32

The fear of man, and the need for acceptance, bring men and women to the snare of conformity to a group, a congregation, or to something other than Jesus Himself. The scriptures declare emphatically:

The fear of man bringeth a snare:
but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe”
Proverbs 29:25

There are many precious people in God who because of their own insecurities develop unhealthy alliances to leaders, denominations, groups, or teachings. Too often this results in tragic and heartbreaking situations, broken and impoverished lives. The disillusionment and realization that they have been bound to something other than Christ leave them isolated and wounded. Freedom in the fear of the Lord must be the atmosphere of serving God.

“Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”
John 12:42-43

See: Faithful and Wise Servant

___________________

“Jesus Christ is always unyielding to my claim to my right to myself. The one essential element in all our Lord’s teaching about discipleship is abandon, no calculation, no trace of self-interest”
– Oswald Chambers (Disciples Indeed)

Brian Troxel

 

 

The River of God

The River of God

“Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus,
better than all the waters of Israel?
may I not wash in them, and be clean?
So he turned and went away in a rage.”
2 Kings 5:12

There are endless strategies and so-called resources to treat the ills of the human heart. Many seem right and sound right to a heart desperate for change and deliverance. Yet there is only ONE river that can bring the cleansing and healing power of God to the soul of man. Many will take a sip of it; they may even dip their toes into its life-giving flow and feel temporary relief; but few dare to immerse themselves into its depths and embrace the import of its full power.

By definition the River Jordan means to descend, to be humbled and brought low. It speaks of freedom from the pride, arrogance and self-seeking of the human condition. The horror of this pride is rampant within the Body of Christ with all of its associated vices: competition, rivalry, division and strife. These are clothed in spiritual garments of deceit and guile that keep His people suspicious, restless and out-of-sync with the character of God. These ones seek relief in confessions, exclusive cliques, and the pre-eminence in religious circles in an effort to appease the emptiness within. When invited into an immersion of a true “baptism” of humility they become angry at the audacity of such a notion. The God of all grace offers no other solution for any of us. We must do it His way or stubbornly refuse the waters of His Life and remain unchanged.

But made himself of no reputation,
and took upon him the form of a servant…”
Philippians 2:7

God has a provision. It is stepping into this river of humiliation and rejection, in concert with Him who deliberately “made Himself of no reputation”, wherein we find the wholesome life promised to all who would obey Him.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me;
for I am meek and lowly in heart:
and ye shall find rest unto your souls”
Matthew 11:29

The call of Christ is to Himself. In coming to Him, in taking upon us His yoke of obedience, we will discover this “rest” for our souls. It cannot be learned or experienced apart from obedience. The proud seek the accolades and approval of men, while inwardly they are excluded from the “learning of Him”. The River Jordan is deep and costly. It is filled with sufferings and humiliations, denunciation by friends and foes, but only by immersing ourselves in it are His graces formed within the depths of our being.

“Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins. Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place”
Psalm 66:11-12

The wealthy place of His ways in us is a land of broad streams, where His mercy flows freely. Forgiveness has been learned in the furnace of affliction and the Character of Christ has been formed in the inner recesses of our hearts. How good and wise are His ways in the lives of His own!

Can we not hear His Call?

“Come unto me,
all ye that labour and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest…”
Matthew 11:28

The wisdom of Naaman’s servant applies to us regardless of our situation in life.

“And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?”
2 Kings 5:13

Humility frees the heart from its own poison. It is the Balm of Gilead alone which can bind up the wounds of relationships from the rivalry, envy and jealously which are the offspring of pride and the source of so much division in His Body. This is the River of Life of which the inspired Psalmist declares:

“There is a river,
the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God…”
Psalm 46:4

Brian Troxel