“The Lord may let others be honored and keep you hidden and unappreciated because He wants to produce some choice, fragrant fruit for His coming glory, which can only be produced in the shade. He may let others do a work for Him and get the credit for it, but He will make you work on and on without others knowing how much you are doing; and then, to make your work still more precious. He may let others get the credit for the work which you have done, and thus make your reward ten times greater when Jesus comes.” (G. D. Watson, 1845-1924).
This test of character is perhaps the hardest for most of us. Our nature and surrounding culture has taught us to make sure we are recognized and given public respect. John the Baptist passed this test well. When the religious leaders were sent from Jerusalem to ask John who he was, he was very clear and said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord” (John 1:23). He refused to elevate himself to even a prophet or the Messiah, even though Jesus said he was “more than a prophet” (Matthew 11:9; Luke 7:26).
John further maintained his humble mind by saying, “He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). We will only produce fruit for God in our lives or ministry if the attitude expressed by John and Watson is deeply ingrained in the moral fabric of our souls. That does not mean we are wimpy about the truth. John did his greatest work in the wilderness by calling for repentance. The greatest work we can do is refuse publicity and point to Christ, “the Lamb of God” (1:29, 36).
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