Very recently, I discovered a quote from the famous 18th century evangelist, George Whitefield:
“Let the name of Whitefield perish, but Christ be glorified. Let my name die everywhere, let even my friends forget me, if by that means the cause of the blessed Jesus may be promoted. . . . I am content to wait till the judgment day for the clearing up of my reputation; and after I am dead I desire no other epitaph than this, ‘Here lies G. W. What sort of man he was the great day will discover.’”
That quote started a process of thought in me. Indeed, I can put my thoughts into four prayers. I list them below.
My 1st Prayer: “Lord, let my ultimate concern be for Your glory as is expressed in Psalm 27:4. “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in His temple.”
I am fully aware that my desires need to be shaped by the Holy Spirit. Left on my own devices, I find that I am far too easily concerned with my own reputation than I am with the fame, splendor and glory of the Lord. But I also know that my soul is not satisfied until I find no greater delight than in God. Until all other interests in life are subordinate to my interest in the glory of God, nothing in life make sense.
My 2nd Prayer: Lord, make me content to wait for my reward as Paul expressed in 2 Timothy 4:8. “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
How easy it is to live for the accolades of men and suffer when not properly recognized. But these attitudes are the result of idolatry. For when the praise of men is sought after, it is impossible to desire the praise of God. And if the praise of God is our highest motivation, it will not matter to us whether men cheer us on, or jeer at us and slander us.
My 3rd Prayer: Lord, help me never to seek after earthly accolades, as Jesus taught us in John 5:44. “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?”
Jesus, we are told, despised the shame of the cross by setting His mind upon the joy set before Him. His was able to refuse earthly motivation for His behaviour, and instead continue to be motivated by that which the Father had in store for Him.
My 4th Prayer: Lord, help me see all of my present life in the perspective of eternity, as You teach me in 1 John 4:17. “The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”
We are to view matters on earth as transitory, and matters of heaven as eternal, for that is what they are. Therefore, our reputation in heaven is the only thing that matters.
Therefore, when we are not recognized, treated with the honour we think we deserve, or when we are slandered and others attribute evil motives to us, lest these matters be of no account.