Multitudes there are, like Diotrephes, who fill the pulpits of churches in every age. Craving the honor of men and loving to have pre-eminence, they exalt and promote themselves. Such men are crafty, self-serving users of men. Our Lord Jesus was not such a preacher; and those who serve Him are not such. — “We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5).
That man who is called of God to preach the Gospel is deeply sensible of his Savior’s majesty and his own infirmity. He sees in himself nothing but sin, unworthiness and insufficiency. He knows that he is less than nothing (1 Corinthians 15:9; Ephesians 3:8). When he expresses such thoughts about himself, he does not do so in a pretentious show of humility, but with an overwhelming sense of awe that the Lord God would be pleased to use such a person as he knows himself to be for the furtherance of the Gospel, the glory of Christ and the everlasting salvation of His elect (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).
But that man who knows that he is not motivated by Christ, that he is not led by the Spirit of God, that he has no regard for the glory of God, tries to cover his defects by exalting his name. Like the Scribes and Pharisees of old, he seeks the praise of men. Therefore, he arranges his message to suit the minds of those to whom he preaches, making whatever adjustments in doctrine they might require, so that he can maintain their favor.
Such self-serving, self-promoting men do whatever they can, with great subtlety, to tear down the reputations of others, that they might direct attention to themselves. They are quick to criticize and quick to slander. They are cheats, deceivers and self-serving liars. No one should be surprised to find them walking in craftiness and handling the Word of God deceitfully (1 Corinthians 4:2).
God’s servants are not such men. They do not exalt themselves and promote themselves. To suggest or imply in anyway that a man is a self-exalting, self-promoting man is to imply that he is a false prophet.
God’s servants exalt the Triune God, uplifting the crucified Christ, crying, “Behold the Lamb of God!” Faithful preachers exalt and promote the Gospel of Christ, preaching it tirelessly. They do whatever they can, using every means at their disposal, to promote the church and kingdom of God. And faithful men, the servants of God, seize every opportunity to promote the ministries of other faithful men, especially the ministries of those who labor in isolated places and are less known than others, just as Paul praised and promoted Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25; 4:18, 23), Onesiphorus (2 Timothy 1:16; 4:19) and Epaphras (Colossians 1:7; 4:12; Philemon 1:23).
Don Fortner, Pastor Grace Baptist Church Danville, Kentucky