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Wanting God More Than Anything: More Than the Praise of Men, Part 1
Bob Kauflin, Sovereign Grace Ministries

Few of us appear more "spiritual" than when we gather with the Church to praise God in song. Voices raised, faces bright, hands uplifted (or maybe holding a hymnal) - surely, worship is taking place, right?

Worship is definitely taking place. The question is: To whom is it directed? It can be dangerous to assume that, if we're surrounded by other Christians exalting God, we must be exalting God, too. As you're probably aware, self-focused and ungodly thoughts can pass through our minds even as we sing worshipful words. Is it possible to worship God on the outside while worshiping myself on the inside? Sadly, yes.

Jesus confronted this type of hypocrisy among the religious leaders of his day. "Everything they do is done for men to see" (Matthew 23:5). What a sobering indictment. While others esteemed the piety of their clothing, prayers and teachings, Jesus detected their true motives. He pointed out how they loved the most important seats in the synagogues and enjoyed having others call them, "Rabbi." What was the issue? "They loved praise from men more than praise from God" (John 12:43).

We shouldn't be too quick to comfort ourselves that we're not first-century Pharisees strutting about in flowing robes. The spirit of the Pharisees is alive and well in our generation. Let's take a moment to look at some of the ways it's revealed.

Ask yourself a few questions. What am I most conscious of as I'm standing in front of my closet on Sunday morning, picking out the clothes I'll wear? Have you ever thought, "Oh, I can't wear that old thing. It's so out of fashion." Or perhaps, "This new outfit is going to make people sit up and take notice!" Or maybe, "I just don't have anything to wear!"

Of course, wanting to look your best is not evil in itself. It's when we are more concerned with how we appear to others than how we appear before God that idolatry has been exposed. Whose opinion matters most to you? That's the real question.

Here's another example. When we arrive at the Sunday meeting, what fills our minds? Do we eagerly look forward to expressing wholehearted devotion to the King of the universe? Or do our minds drift to checking out what everyone's wearing, taking note of who doesn't greet us or struggling with the attention that someone else is receiving?

I'm glad that while I sing praises to God, no one's projecting my thoughts on a screen. Sometimes those words could read, "I want people to praise ME like I'm praising YOU, O Lord." Lets be thankful we have a Savior who cleanses even our "holy" acts, as well as a Deliverer who can turn our hearts to truly desire His glory above our own.

Next week, we'll look at how desiring the praise of men can particularly affect those who have the privilege of leading others in the worship of God.

For His Glory,

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