The Glory of Self-Promotion

This week is the culmination of many television programs for the broadcast season. Lee DeWyze was voted the next American Idol, and Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussy Cat Dolls and her partner Derek Hough won the dance competition on Dancing With The Stars.

At some level, all the contestants on these programs promoted themselves. In fact, most recognizable personalities in our society draw their living from promoting themselves.

Is promoting ourselves a noble or self-absorbed pursuit?

Please join me as we explore this further.

TODAY’S READING

2 Samuel 13:1-39
John 17:1-26
Psalm 119:81-96
Proverbs 16:6-7

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

2 Samuel 13:1-39. Like father, like son. Just as David had committed sexual sin, so Amnon followed in the steps of his father. Since he was David’s eldest son, Amnon was the heir apparent to the throne—a scary thought considering how Amnon treated his half-sister Tamar.

While David was furious with his son for raping his sister, we see no evidence of any retribution. Nothing is done to Amnon and Tamar is left in disgrace. Because of this, Absalom, Tamar’s brother takes justice into his hands.

Even worse, we see no evidence of David comforting his disgraced daughter. Because David did nothing, we read in verse 20 that she came under the care of her brother Absalom. Despite David’s brokenness over his sin with Bathsheba and the warnings of calamity on his household, David demonstrated a disturbing aloofness toward his family and the laws of Israel. This inactivity on David’s part likely planted the seeds of discontent in Absalom.

Following in the violent footsteps of his half-brother, Absalom killed Amnon and then fled.

This was fulfillment of Nathan’s words to David: “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you’” (2 Samuel 12:11).

Like a chemical chain reaction, our actions affect others. Think about how many people were affected by David and Bathsheba’s sin:

  • Uriah, who was wrongly killed on the battlefield.
  • Other brave warriors who died on the battlefield (as Eugene mentioned yesterday)
  • Uriah’s grief-stricken family
  • The extended families of David and Bathsheba who were disappointed by the couple’s actions
  • The unborn baby who died in Bathsheba’s womb
  • Amnon—who learned sexual impropriety (to some extent) from his father David and was later murdered by his brother Absalom
  • Tamar—who was raped by Amnon
  • Absalom—who was enraged by his brother’s actions and father’s inaction. This led him to start an insurrection against David which eventually led to his death.
  • Israel—who felt betrayed by David’s actions (and inactions regarding his sons) which laid the groundwork for Absalom to rebel and steal the hearts of Israel from his father.

We may not serve in positions of influence like David, but I can name countless people whose actions have affected people—some of whom they never met.

John 17:1-26. This chapter probably gives us the best window into the way Jesus prayed and into the relationship between Jesus and his heavenly Father.

Of the many profound insights Jesus makes in this passage, one stands out to me. In describing his followers, Jesus prays: “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” Jesus’ concern was that his followers would huddle together to the exclusion of people who don’t follow Jesus in order to avoid being stained by the outside world. This is assuredly a prayer Jesus continues to pray to the Father today.

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THE WORD MADE FRESH

As a writer and occasional published author, I periodically experience seasons when I must promote something I’ve written. When my book Strange Fire, Holy Fire was released about 18 months ago, it brought to the surface a quandary that has plagued me for years. Amidst the marketing promotion my publisher organized on my behalf, I felt deeply uncomfortable about promoting myself. And to be honest, I wasn’t exactly diligent about marketing the book from my end. I subconsciously (perhaps even consciously) convinced myself that promoting my book was prideful.

This morning, reading Jesus’ prayer in John 17 made me realize that I was completely wrong in my assumptions.

Here’s what Jesus prayed to his father: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you…And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began” (John 17:1, 5).

Jesus was quite comfortable asking to be glorified because he knew that he would take that glory and return to this Father.

Here’s what I learned from Jesus this morning: receiving the adulation of others isn’t wrong, if we pay it forward to our heavenly Father. In fact, I’m coming to realize that promoting ourselves (or our work) isn’t wrong either, as long as we pay it forward to God. Actually, that “self-promotion” might actually be God-ordained.

It really goes back to what we do with the glory we receive.

If we keep it to ourselves, we place ourselves in the unenviable position of setting ourselves up for a fall (see Proverbs 16:18).

But if we genuinely reflect it toward God, then the glory we receive servers a greater purpose than just promoting ourselves.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. How have your actions affected others? How might decisions you’re making right now affect people in the future?
  3. What does it look like for you to “pay forward” the glory you receive from others to God?

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www.bibleconversation.com

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

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