Imagine having a life motto at the age of 17.
He had grown up in a Christian home. At 15 he began to journal. A practice that would attend his private devotions all his life.
On Sunday March 6th, 1859, the words of Jeremiah 45:5 struck him with force. He wrote that day: Those words are still sounding in my ears. “Seekest thou great things for thyself, seek them not.” It has always been one of my dreams to be distinguished. I have always been seeking great things for myself. To be honored, loved and respected by all has always been my greatest ambition and is it wrong to wish to strive for these? Are these great things? Will striving for them be seeking great things for myself? The answer I fear is yes, though I would not have it so…I will not seek great things for myself; I will seek them for God.”
This is the wonder of spending time with the Lord in prayer. He brings the Scriptures alive. He applies them to our lives. Not just for today. But forever.
This work is not easy. You and I are from the world. Our identity – who we are – has been shaped by our family and friends. By our experiences in life. By the values and priorities of our culture. We learn early on what we need to do to get people to love us. Accept and approve us. And make us feel good about us.
Add to that the principle of sin.
We need to be recognized. The desire to be honored. Distinguished. To make a name for ourselves. To be remembered. The first sin of the devil himself was to achieve greatness: “I will raise my throne above the stars of God.” (Isaiah 14:13) Even the disciples found themselves arguing about which of them would be the greatest. (Luke 22:24)
This young man in 1859 realized this sin principle in himself. He was simply in the Scriptures, in prayer, before the Lord when the words of Jeremiah 45:5 pierced his 17 year old heart. He immediately confessed it all to be true. He wanted to be honored, loved, respected – to set out in life to achieve greatness!
He made a commitment that day.
When he wrote in his journal, “I will not seek great things for myself; I will seek them for God” he meant it. It became his life verse -- the words inscribed into his heart by the Holy Spirit of God. It defined him for the rest of his life.
He became a country pastor. He gave himself to serve the marginalized, the needy, poor and lowly. On countless occasions he received invitations for great pulpits, more money, more prestige and honor. He rejected them all because he knew the call of the Lord Jesus Christ on his life.
He stayed in the same church. He gave himself to the poor. He lived his life motto to the fullest. Not a name for himself. To his life’s end he’d say: “I will strive and try not to gain great things for myself but to gain them for God.”
Imagine taking this verse to yourself today.
Imagine letting the Holy Spirit inscribe it into our hearts.
I thank the Lord for the saints who’ve gone before. It deepens my passion for discipleship today. All of us need mentors like this in Jesus today. In every church. For every believer.
So let me ask: Are you seeking great things for you?!?
For Prayer: We are praying for a dear friend and colleague this week: Bob Hackendorf. He’s a priest in Syracuse. His 41 year old sister died suddenly last Saturday leaving a husband and seventeen year old daughter. Please remember the Hackendorfs in your prayers….
Any comments this week!?! Write and I’ll write you back.
Want to know the name of this 17 year old from 1859?!?
Blessings in Jesus our Lord-