If you’ve been following my posts, then you know that we should be driven by the Holy Spirit. Time in His presence should be strengthening us on the inside and propelling us forward. That’s how we fulfill our destiny in Christ.
But as we continue our study of Paul’s letter to the Galatians, we see that there’s another driving force that could be detrimental to our spiritual walk.
Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
The word translated as conceited in this verse means that someone is after vain or empty glory. To understand this we must first understand what glory is. We use that word a lot, especially about God. In spite of that, most Christians don’t really know what it means.
Glory is the amount of weight that you assign to someone’s opinion. To give God glory means that we place what He says higher than anyone else’s word. That means that what God says about me is more important than the word of the doctors, reporters, financial advisors, or even the voice of my past.
But this verse is talking about empty glory. That means that I place my opinion higher than anyone else’s. The reason it’s empty is that it’s usually based on what I perceive as my high level of spiritual performance.
Empty glory is all about me. It’s how great I’m doing and I want you to know about it. I want you to acknowledge that I’m more spiritual than you. This kind of thinking is empty because my walk with God has nothing to do with my abilities and everything to do with the power of the Holy Spirit.
According to Paul, there are two factors involved in this empty glory. The first is that we provoke each other. That literally means to call someone out or to challenge them.
I’ve seen this even in ministry circles. When I was a new pastor it used to annoy me, but now I’m just amused by it. With some ministers, the first thing they ask when they initially meet you is, “What seminary did you graduate from?”
Then, based upon your answer, they decide how much value they’ll place upon your beliefs. It has nothing to do with the anointing of God on your life or ministry. (For the record – I haven’t completed seminary yet. I’ll let you assign a value to my opinions based on my posts.)
Of course, this happens with church people as well.
“How many chapters a day do you read? I read through the whole Bible every year.”
“How many hours a day do you spend in prayer? I get up at 4 AM every morning to seek God.”
We call people out so that we can brag about our great spiritual accomplishments. Fortunately, the move of the Holy Spirit in our lives isn’t based upon how many chapters a day that we read, or what time we wake up.
The second part of empty glory is envy or jealousy. This is also used so we can feel better about ourselves.
It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill.
There are those who witness for Christ out of rivalry. It’s like they’re placing another notch on their spiritual gun when they lead someone to Christ. Then they try to make you feel bad because you don’t witness to others the way they do.
Of course, even Paul had to concede that preaching Christ is a good thing, no matter the motive. (Philippians 1:18) But if it’s more about how great I am than it is about Christ, that’s what makes it vain and hollow.
Watch your attitudes and let the Holy Spirit be the driving force in your life and ministry.
Question: How can you be a better encouragement to others in the body of Christ?
© Nick Zaccardi 2017