I am leading a group Bible study through Romans on Facebook, (we just started! Use the hyperlink to join!), I was hit so hard by this verse. Can you imagine having the type of faith that the whole world talked about?! Wow! What incredible encouragement.
As I began to think on it more, however, I realized that if people are talking about your faith- it means that they are watching you. Such a double-edged sword. What originally sounds like encouragement sharpens into a warning. Paul repeats this message in his first letter to Timothy (4:16):
“Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.“
Notice Paul didn’t says, “people are watching you, so do good works and teach well.” It is through authentic faith, rooted in the Word of God and prayer, that people see and are saved. If we are performing- in our age, trying to build a “platform” -we will surely fail.
I have been wrestling with this for the last couple weeks. My marketing team and publicists keep telling me to “build up my name” through social media to gain a following and a platform. All I can think of are those builders of Babylon in Genesis 11, who build the tower so they can “make their own names great” (v4). I then think of Sarah and Abraham in Genesis 16, when Sarah forces her slave to sleep with Abraham, Sarah’s husband, as a surrogate to carry the child God promised them. As if God needed their help in the matter.
The worst part of trying to “build a platform,” is that I find myself becoming increasingly self-focused. I am constantly on social media trying to come up with ways for people to notice me- because that’s what I’ve been told to do- and I loathe it. And God has finally shown me that I don’t have to.
God doesn’t need our help getting done what he has promised over our lives! If God wants the world to hear the messages he gives us, he will make it happen. We don’t have to. God does not need our help. People are already watching- some, waiting for failure, for stumbling; others, praying for God to work no matter who’s mouth is doing the speaking.
That’s why Paul says again in Titus 2:7-8:
“Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.”
We must not be concerned with making our own names great. We must not become prideful when the world notices our faith. We must see it as a warning that both God and man are watching; and we must consequently ask ourselves, “Do God and man both see the same?”
Does the all-seeing, all-knowing God, who looks upon the heart, find the same strong faith and righteousness that man sees? That must be our only concern. Authenticity. It is the only way we can survive ourselves when the world builds our name into something great: knowing that the only great name is that of Ha Shem: King of Kings and Lord of Lords: our God.
People are watching. But more-so, God is watching.