“I do not accept praises from men” (John 5:41)

One of the peculiarities of Jesus is not accepting praises from men. Humans are inspired to continue doing commendable work, only when praised by men. When not praised, humans lose hope and give up. Jesus taught His disciples to avoid righteous acts in public, to be praised by men:

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:1-4 NIV)

Jesus was the way the truth and the life (John 14:6). Jesus left a legacy that is apparently unachievable, yet applicable, even in today’s life. The description of a Christian is similar to the behavior of Jesus. Doing other things, other than what Jesus taught, is fallacious.

Within three and a half years, Jesus had accomplished great works. More could be achieved by millions professing His name. It is a question of walking in His footsteps or not walking in His footsteps. Jesus maintained the idea of connecting with His Father at all times.

Any person can do likewise, as long as appreciating being God’s child. This starts at the point of conversion, when adopting Son-ship to God. This implies taking seriously, the Scriptural context in Matthew 16:13-20.

Individual Christians are different From Jesus, but united on the aspect of being God’s children. It is impossible to call oneself Christian, when unable to behave like Jesus, including not accepting praises from men.

“I do not accept glory from human beings, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts.  I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him.  How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” (John 5:41-44 NIV).

This Scripture can be very interesting to most Christians, except when fulfilling the condition of being Jesus’s adversary. Hopefully, most Christians could take heed. Why did Jesus not accept praises from men?

What could have been wrong with receiving praises from fellow humans? The answer is quite profound, as distinguishing true Christianity from falsehoods. Blessed are those not insulted, when applying what they know to be true?

The greatest danger in Christianity is in accepting praises from men. Christianity carries opposite viewpoints, when compared to common applications in human relations. Advertising is considered necessary, when advancing a particular cause.

However, in Christianity, advertising cannot be acceptable. This reverses the common trend, although logical, as a principle of common good. Christianity is advertised by works, but dispelling trendy ideas, with electrifying popularity.

A blessing is considered a blessing, only when receiving insults, rather than praises. Christians are supposed to pray for enemies, rather than praying for friends. Jesus never instructed His followers to love friends, but enemies.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12 NIV).

There is no need to change Jesus’s words in pursuit of own agenda. When losing this important aspects, Christianity becomes a lost cause. Shouting Lord! Lord, grants no license to God’s Kingdom (Matthew 7:21-23).

This was a simple truth; understood by those sincerely desiring to be His followers. Jesus knew how susceptible humans were, to being misled. Yet, nothing is complicated about Christianity, as long as avoiding deviation from what Jesus taught.

There are two reasons why accepting glory from men is inimical. The first is that Christianity cannot be trendy, as not of this world. Everything trendy, is of this world, unlike activities that are not of this world.

Jesus was popular, through His miraculous performances. Many people benefitted immensely from His services, making Him quite popular to ordinary people. Ironically, the religious ones could not be willing to accommodate His popularity.

Jesus would have failed dismally, had those religious charlatans accommodated His popularity. This would have reversed what He taught in Matthew 5:10-12. The only sign that something is not of this world is its rejection by those of this world.

Anything is regarded as worldly, as long as worldly accepted. This sounds like opposing the principle of advancing goodness to humanity. But perfectly in agreement with apostle John, who knew, exactly, what He was talking about, having spent time with Jesus.

“They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood” (1 John 4:5-6 NIV).

Those of this world cannot be mistaken, on questions of acceptability. When resonating with those of this world, any person can be popular. Out of desiring to handle problems of this world, many people have found Christianity to be acceptable.

The multitudes followed Jesus, due to Jesus’s ability to address their physical challenges. They were of this world. The matters of food and healing were of this world. This had nothing to do with those from Heaven.

The reason why Jesus spoke in parables, was to help those of this world not to blindly fall into Christianity. Although thronged by many, Jesus did not use that as an opportunity to advance God’s Kingdom. Instead, He was emphatic in discouraging them from following Him.

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.  And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘this person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?  If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples” (Luke 14:25-33 NIV).

Those of this world desire some acceptable profile, before approving of someone to be their leader. They get offended, when a nonentity comes without a commendable profile, whose validity they consider unworthy.

When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.

“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them (Mark 6:2-5 NIV).

The key Scripture is Genesis 1:26-27. Where did those Jews get the temerity to invalidate Jesus? Of course, Jesus’s birth had been extraordinary. But, those of this world could still not be persuaded to accept Jesus. Having been born from a poor family, Jesus became a stumbling block to most of those religious Jews.

However, when taking Genesis 1:26-27, seriously, it cannot be possible to degrade another fellow human being. Degrading other fellow humans is of this world, where people are categorized according to race, class, or educational backgrounds.

Ordinary humans are degraded, as not worthy to be likened to God. Nevertheless, there is no other truth, surpassing the statement that humans were created in God’s image. One cannot talk of knowing God, when invalidating other humans.

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister” (1 John 4:20-21 NIV).

When attached to a particular denomination, one would be violating the above Scripture? It is impossible to entertain heavenly things, when committed to worldly standards. The only model in Christianity, is Jesus.

Christianity cannot be mistaken for what goes on in this world. Nothing appears amiss, when declaring being Christian. Unfortunately, most people zealously display being Christians, yet failing on Christian principles.

The second reason why accepting glory from humans is inimical, is pride, which is deadliest, as far as Christianity is concerned. To His disciples, Jesus kept emphasizing that greatness was in servanthood. Nothing else breaks the connection between worldly and heavenly behaviors.

“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Matthew 23:8-12 NIV).

Who can boast of being better than others? Such a person would, obviously be of this world. One cannot assume being superior, as long as regarding others with full knowledge that they were created in God’s image.

The business of superintending over others, and suggesting what would be best for them, is not of God, but of this world. Church organizations are controlled from above. The apostle Paul clearly stated this, as constituting a principle, on Church organization.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Humble Service in the Body of Christ

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully” (Romans 12:1-11 NIV).

This is profound, and undisputable by normal people, but intended for the called out ones. It has never been God’s intention to cause acceptance of His gospel, by those of this world. Lack of enthusiasm from worldly people, appears discouraging, but encouraging.

Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope.

The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99

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