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Not to Us, Not to Us!

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness.

Psalm 115:1

Psalm 115 opens with a striking bit of poetry: “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness” (115:1). Though God may richly bless his people, so that they appear to be glorious (115:12-15), the glory belongs to God and God alone.

Psalm 115:1 reminds me of an experience I had almost exactly twenty years ago. For several months, I had been talking with the search committee of Irvine Presbyterian Church about becoming their Senior Pastor. When the committee finally voted to choose me, I was thrilled. But I knew that their selection was not the end of the process. In a Presbyterian church, only the congregation can extend a call to a new pastor. So I had to be voted on by the membership of Irvine Presbyterian Church. This vote would happen at a congregational meeting on a Sunday, following worship services in which I was the preacher.

As you can imagine, I was very nervous as I got ready to preach my “try out” sermon. I wanted the people to like me, at least enough to vote for me. I wasn’t really afraid of not being elected by the congregation, but I was scared that I might receive a large number of negative votes, which would have been a blow to my confidence and self-image.

On the Saturday night before my big Sunday, I went to the church campus to pray. Nobody was there, so I could pray openly. As I walked around the church buildings, I began to ask God to help me, to bless my preaching, to open the people’s hearts, and to secure a positive vote. But the more I walked and prayed, the more I found my priorities shifting. At first I was praying for good things to happen to me. I was seeking my own glory, if you will. But the more I talked with the Lord, the more I began to desire his glory, not my own. I realized as never before that my calling to this church in Irvine was not about me. It had everything to do with God and his purposes for that fine church. Yes, I hoped to be blessed by God as the pastor of the church (and, indeed, I was blessed during my sixteen years there, far beyond anything I imagined on that night of prayer). But I found my heart yearning for God’s glory. I yearned for him to be lifted up in the Irvine church and through the church in the community. By the end of my time of prayer, I was praying along the lines of Psalm 115:1: “Not to me, but to you be the glory. Not to me, but to you!”

I can still become preoccupied with how people feel about me. When I’m a guest preacher, I often have to confess to the Lord that my gut instinct is to want most of all to be liked by the congregation. As I seek him and humble myself before him, God once again changes my heart, giving me a passion for his purpose and glory. He will do the same for you as you offer yourself to him.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: When have you felt a passion for God’s glory? How would seeking God’s glory make a difference in your daily life? In your work? In your family?

PRAYER:
Not to us, O LORD, not to us,
but to your name goes all the glory
for your unfailing love and faithfulness.
May you be glorified, Lord, in my work.
May you be glorified in my family.
May you be glorified in all of my relationships.
May you be glorified in my earning and my spending.
May you be glorified in my public life and my private life.
May you be glorified in my church.
May you be glorified in every bit of my life.
Not to us, O LORD, not to us,
but to your name goes all the glory
for your unfailing love and faithfulness. Amen.

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