By Marvin Purdy
Someone said, “If a man builds a better mouse-trap than his neighbor the world will beat a path to hisdoor.” What is the meaning of this old adage? To me it means if I create something superior to what my fellow man creates that I will be recognized by my works. A good carpenter is recognized by his abilitv to work with wood. If the house he builds is superior in quality and workmanship to that of other carpenters in his vicinity, then chances are he will be called upon to build more houses than the other carpenters of that area.
Simply because he is a better carpenter. What makes him better? It may be that he has better tools and has abetter understanding as to how to use them. He may have more experience. But his greatest asset will be that he is able to follow instructions. He will produce the finished product according to the specifications of the owner.
How is it that people have recognized this outstanding carpenter? Is it due to the fact that he has told them what a fine carpenter he is? Is it because a few of his friends have testified as to his ability? Is it because he has a variety of valuable tools? The tools mean nothing unless he has demonstrated that ability. And the fact that his friends have testified for him does not make it necessarily true, for they may be prejudiced. What then has led or induced the people to recognize this qualified man? The people have looked upon and examined the product of his ability, and finding genuine skill and workmanship in his product they are ready to say, “My, what a master craftsman.” He demonstrated his ability. He has proved to the world that he has a proper understanding of his trade; that he has the proper tools and knows how to use them, and that he can and does follow instructions. Thus, there is no doubt in the mind of the man who hires him to build a house. The fruits of his labor advertise his ability. He does not have to keep telling the people over and over what a wonderful carpenter he is, he simply tells them to look and see. A good tree brings forth good fruit. (Matt. 7:17.) Also every seed bringeth forth after its own kind. (Gen. 1:11.)
This type of man is due a lot of praise. Why? Because he has spent a lot of time learning his trade. He has invested a great deal of money in equipment. Through his own efforts he is what he is.
I have said all this to set the stage for a picture of another man who is also working on a building – God’s building, which is the Church. All Christians labor together on this building and all labor under the same owner. (Christ-Eph. 1:22.) All are given the same instructions. All are given the same tools with which to labor and in spite of the instructions and equipment furnished we can do nothing without the help of the owner-Christ. Now, if through our efforts the building (Church) grows in numbers and increases in faith, who should get the glory and praise? Some seem to think that man should be exalted and praised and given much recognition due to the fact that he has had a great part in the building up of this spiritual house.
Let us hear the Apostle Paul as he writes to the church at Corinth. Some of the people there were exalting men too highly. Some were following Apollos, Peter and even Paul. It would seem that Paul should have been elated at the exalted position they had given him, but instead he said, “For while one saith I am of Paul: another I am of Apollos, are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered: But God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” (I Cor. 3:4-6.) Again Paul says in verse 18-23, “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in the world, let him become a fool, that he may he wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again the Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. Therefore let no man glory in men.”
I am not seeking to discredit where credit is due, but there is no exalted seat of honor among Children of God. The most diligent laborers in the Lord’s Vineyard are usually the least noticed and receive the least praise. They expect no credit; they realize that all credit, praise and glory should be given to Christ. (Eph. 3:21.)
It seems that some men have a burning desire to tell the world of their many benevolent acts and their help in planting churches and preaching the Gospel and they love to shout these things from the house-tops. They constantly keep us reminded of their accomplishments. Let us hear Christ as He speaks of such things. “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. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.” (Matt. 6:1-2.) It seems that some wish to give immediate notice of their every alms and they sound their trumpets loudly. Christ also said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” I think too many of us are shining our light instead of letting our light shine. There is a great deal of difference.
If your light is trimmed and burning brightly, we will not have to call the people’s attention to it. They will quickly see it. Notice also that Christ says they will glorify the Father instead of men. The faithful, humble Christian seeks to glorify only the Father.
Let us keep our lights trimmed and brightly burning, ever looking unto Jesus the Author and finisher of our faith. Let us forget about what men may think of us and also let us not think too highly of men, regardless of their age, influence or kin. If we please Christ, it matters not what others may think.
The faithful, humble Christian is not proud or boastful about his success above others. He seeks not his own good but the good of his fellow man. He esteems others above himself. He diligently goes about his duties as a Christian seeking to please Christ only and if the church of which he is a member grows in numbers and in faith he realizes that such is the result of a faithful church membership. He realizes that he has only planted and watered and that God has blessed them with increase.
Let no man take credit for the growth of a church. A church grows by being fed the proper diet and that diet is the Word of God. A church may increase in numerical strength by being fed an evil diet, that is, a
perverted gospel, but it will grow strong in the faith when fed the Word of God only. Let us labor patiently and humbly in the Vineyard of the Master, knowing that if we are faithful to the end, we shall be given a greater reward than the praise of men.