Men with No Name or Reputation on Earth
Not all the great saints in history are well known. In fact, the ones who will get the most rewards are probably going to be those we never heard of.
There are numerous ways to make one famous. Hollywood knows that it only takes some backing and money and one can have a TV series in which they are advertised to the public. The longer they are around the more familiar people become with them. The Religious sector has borrowed strategies from the world and applied it to the church.
There is a difference of God raising one up to do ministry and those who have done their own self- promotion. The people who have the most air-time on Television are usually (not always) those who are making merchandise of their viewers. This does not mean that godly men cannot be famous but it is more often the exception to the rule.
In our day we look for stars, those who have fame, importance and influence. But this is not what the Bible teaches about those who are great in God’s eyes.
Jesus spoke of the hypocrites that prayed to be seen. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward” (Matt 6:5). You can substitute anything else besides pray, whether it’s their good works, giving, spiritual gifts… “They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues” (Matthew 23:6). They lived to be noticed and seen as more important than others. Speaking of the Pharisee’s John 12:43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”
Our intent should be as the psalmist Ps 67:1-2 “God be merciful to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us. Selah That Your way may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations” (derived from Numbers 6:24-26). Instead we see men’s names replacing Christ’s name, and their reputation presented to the people as business leaders, healers and miracle workers (though they may give secondary honor to Jesus). We always need to be careful of the traps of being sought after and exalted. Once pride sets in it becomes harder to return to walking in humility and letting God use you as He once may have.
Jesus said, "Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:1).
When one wants to be noticed for what they do, they do it in the public’s eye. They have strategies to make the most out of the event. Even if it is good deed what they do builds up their pride and importance. Jesus instructed, "But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, "that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly”(Matt 6:3-4). Many will already have their reward by being noticed and have no treasure in heaven.
The real servants are those who work without the cameras on them, without the news reporting their good deeds, without touring to give a personal testimony that will promote themselves or make them important. The real servant has an attitude of not trying to be found in the spotlight while they do God’s work. A real servant is busy doing God’s work whether he is noticed or unnoticed. He doesn’t care if anyone watches him. His reward will be later.
We have the example of Jesus; when He came to earth He did not take up living in a mansion but came having no reputation. He did not dress as royalty and solicit money or worship from people. He was a prince who truly became a pauper, owning the clothes on his back. “Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9, 2 Cor.6:10; Jms.2:5), [spiritually rich]. He lived among humanity to identify with the people He was sent to earth to die for sin, to carry their sorrows and pain away. To be among the very people he created and loved.
He often had a crowd gather after his reputation spread but He didn’t wait to have a crowd, instead, He often retreated from the crowds. “Yet He warned them not to make Him known” (Matthew 12:16; Mt.9:30-31; Mark 3:12; Mk.7:17). He was not after drawing the biggest crowd to work his miracles and give His message. “I am among you as the One who serves” (Luke 22: 27).
Philippians 2:5-11 “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Jesus went from the highest estate in the universe to a low one. Jesus, being God, came lowly, in humility as a servant to rescue prideful man- men who had religion or no religion. He had every right to use what was His by nature but He intentionally put it aside waiting for the Fathers command. He did not assert the power he had for a position that was rightfully His (King); he put it aside. Jesus gained His victory on the cross through humility and being a servant. His life of a servant brought Him to this point of complete submission through suffering to accomplish the Father’s will.
If we have the same attitude, not striving for reputation- to become famous God will exalt us, if He so chooses. “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you?”(1 Pet 5:6-7; Jms.4:10)
This same mind (attitude) that Jesus had we are to have for one another- “Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion” (Rom 12:16). Jesus ate with the sinners, the less fortunate, and the needy. He enjoyed their company compared to the rich and important people. He purposely did not eat with the kings or leaders unless they had an open heart to listen.
Jesus made servanthood an absolute requirement for leadership. To be a servant one must let go of their own significance and be willing to serve others at their own expense. In Matthew 20:26-28: “whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave–just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” This was the apostles and the churches example-- it was their motto for living for Christ.
Consider the apostles, we have only a few letters written by them in the Bible. Yet the twelve and certainly the seventy went out to the other nations. Only Peter, John, Paul, James and Jude are spoken of by letters. The others we hear very little of what they did. Their reward is in heaven.
Paul wrote, “For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship. What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel. For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more” (1 Cor. 9:17-19).
2 Chronicles 16:9 “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” It is so easy to get discouraged as one begins a work for God. God is not looking to make people famous, but to use them in his service. Those who are willing to do a small task or large one. We should not despise small beginnings and be anxious for something larger that would be more important in our eyes. God trains us to be faithful in the little things before He entrusts us with something larger. Many a saint labored tirelessly in their work. Some saw results in their lifetime, others saw none, but their reward is in heaven.
The apostles gave themselves as a living example to the Church. 2 Thess. 3:7-9 “For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; nor did we eat anyone's bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.”
Real spirituality has humility; it seeks the welfare of others not itself. The apostle’s lived in humility, following the example of Christ’s servanthood, under their leadership no one was abused or misused in their care. As Jesus said, servant is not greater than his master. They were careful with their leadership and did not use the office of apostle, prophet or pastor to take advantage of those under their care. 2 Cor. 6:3-10: “We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed. But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.”
Can you hear the heart or a servant as the apostle Paul speaks of his being a bond slave to Jesus. They went through a lifetime of intense suffering for the people of God. Our attitude must be the same in ministry. We should always keep in mind that it is the Lord’s doing not our own.1 Cor. 3:7-8: “So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.”
We need to see beyond this earth to what is promised. Matt 5:11-12: “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” And to the world whom we represent Christ to: Prov. 25:21-22: “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For so you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the LORD will reward you. Paul quotes this verse in Romans 12 and then adds Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom.12:21). This is how we win those who oppose us when we have an opportunity to personally engage with them and meet their need.
God’s way is different from the way of the world. He not only will remember what we did that was good but will punish the evil doers who come against that good. Psalm 58:11 “… men will say, "Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely He is God who judges in the earth." Job 34:11” For He repays man according to his work, and makes man to find a reward according to his way.
Prov. 11:18-19 “The wicked man does deceptive work, but he who sows righteousness will have a sure reward. As righteousness leads to life, so he who pursues evil pursues it to his own death.”
The Lord will decide the quality of work that was done from the smallest to the greatest. I can assure you that those who have boasted of their many salvations and miracles to the world will not be as happy on that day as they are now. Many who have prayed and done what God has asked will find their reward. 1 Cor. 3:13-15: “each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
Paul goes on to clarify, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality” (Col 3:23-25).
Matt. 10:42: “And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward." Even the smallest gesture will be remembered by God, it may be insignificant to man and forgotten but nothing will be forgotten by the Lord. We can be confident that the very least we do, even if it is a glass of cold water (that was a luxury in Jesus ‘ day). “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor 15:58).
That day draws near- Isa. 40:10: “Behold, the Lord GOD shall come with a strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him.” Rev. 22:12: "And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work”