Saturday, May 6, 2017

An Unusual Man of God


I can never forget the day I met this man for the first time. My youngest son, Joe, was born on December 7, 2006. The next day he came to meet me and to see my newborn son in the hospital. He had recently shifted to Hyderabad from Bangalore and someone suggested my name to him. So, he wanted to meet me. And since the day we met in the hospital, we became close brothers in the Lord. This man is Kim Taeyeob. His Indian name is John Kim.

Brother John was born in South Korea on August 4,1960, to a poor family. He grew up facing many challenges in life and ended up becoming a young rebel. Thankfully, he came to know the Lord at a young age. Thereafter he went to a seminary for training and served as a pastor for few years. Later, he felt the Lord calling him to India to serve as a missionary. After much thinking and prayer, in 2003, he finally moved to India with his beloved wife and son.

Brother John faithfully served the Lord in India for 13 years. A few months ago, he felt the Lord calling him to another third world country (which I leave unnamed) to serve as a missionary. After giving much thought, going through emotional struggle, and praying, in May, 2017, he moved to that country.

I have known brother John for more than 10 years. During his stay in India, he has been a blessing to many people, and I am one among them, perhaps the most. I write this article to share what I observed and learned from this man of God. There is so much to speak about the Lord’s work in him that I could easily write a book. I hope these brief words would be a great encouragement to the readers, especially to missionaries, pastors, and other Christian leaders.

Note: Whenever we read a person’s biography or listen to a testimony about others, we must know that it is a witness about the power of the gospel of Christ Jesus in transforming a worst sinner into a beautiful saint. Therefore, all glory goes to God for His amazing grace and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.

1. A MAN OF SELF-DENIAL

I cannot speak about brother John without mentioning about his commitment to the Lord’s work. When he felt the Lord calling him to India, he left his comfortable life in South Korea and came to India. He was not disobedient to God-given vision. (Acts 26:19)

Due to his serious liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus, he constantly suffered from weakness and sickness. He faced the pressure to return to his homeland many times. However, he wanted to serve and die in the land to which the Lord had called him to serve. Even on the day he was leaving India to serve the Lord in another country, he was physically unwell.

The country that he has now gone to is not an easy place to live. India is a lot better in comparison. Nevertheless, to brother John, what matters in life is not enjoying the comforts of life, but walking in obedience to the Lord who loved him and gave His life for him.

During his stay in India, brother John lived a simple life. He was a man without love for material riches, worldly pleasures or comforts. He was extremely cautious about how he spent money, especially when spending money on himself. He had very few pairs of clothes, so much so that at times we were tempted to buy him some. On one occasion, we pooled in money and bought a new windshield for his vehicle which had worn out. This is not because he had no money. Although he had the opportunity to live a luxurious life, he chose to live a frugal life for the sake of using money for better purposes.

2. A PEOPLE PERSON

A lot of missionaries and Christian leaders seem to be ministry-oriented, not people-centered. On the contrary, brother John is a people person. He puts people before ministry. In fact, to him, ministry is loving people.

In TENTS ministry, which is established through his encouragement and efforts, all the brothers can testify that brother John cares for people. When brothers or their family members fell sick or became unwell, without even caring about the distance, he immediately went to visit and to encourage them and kept following up about their welfare. If you live in his circle, you would know that there is a brother who always cares for you.

Here is a testimony of one brother: “My wife became quite sick to the point of death. At this dark hour, brother John and his wife stood with us. He fervently prayed for us and even raised prayer support from his countrymen. He gave away his own medicine to help my wife. He constantly visited us traveling a long distance and encouraged us. He cared for us more than our own family members.”

I must also mention the grace he shows towards people despite being hurt by them. I personally witnessed his immense patience and gracious attitude toward others, including myself. I wonder whether I or others would be as gracious as this man. He doesn’t easily give up on people. This may be because he is familiar with the gracious God and His amazing grace.

3. A WONDERFUL FAMILY LIFE

Brother John is married to Oh Hyunju. We call her Elizabeth. They have been married for more than 25 years and are blessed with only one son. They are one of the rare, loving and joyful couples I have ever seen in my life. Their love and commitment to each other causes us to envy their family life. One of my wife’s desires is to be like them.

Living closely to their family, we have seen that sister Elizabeth is a submissive wife and highly respects her husband. Brother John loves his wife and takes great care of her. They are physically, emotionally, mentally and heartily one flesh. This doesn’t mean they are a flawless couple. Yet, their strength in loving each other is greater than their failure of getting into occasional conflicts.

They not only loved the Lord and each other deeply, but have also devoted themselves to love and serve others as a family. Theirs is an open house, devoting themselves to show hospitality. We learned that when we go to their house, we must go with an empty stomach, because they would spread the table with a variety of foods, and that too nutritious ones. We had memorable moments in their house. Their hospitality and care makes us to feel guilty for failing to live up to their generosity.

4. A MAN OF HUMILITY

We do not easily testify about someone, ‘He is a humble man’ as we quickly and usually say, ‘He is a good man.’ I would unhesitatingly testify, along with the brothers in TENTS ministry, “Brother John is a humble man.” Despite the fact that Korean churches are generally known for having authoritarian, highly pastor-centered, and top-heavy hierarchical leadership structure, brother John was different.

Brother John’s aim was not to build a name for himself. His passion was not to build an organization centered around him. His motive was not to be served by others. His expectation was not for others to elevate him. His conduct was not controlling, authoritarian, and dictatorial. Many times I have watched him giving preference to others' opinion than to his own.  His goal was only to glorify God and to build His kingdom. And we give glory to God for his humility. I sincerely desire to become like him in his patience, gentleness, and humility.

Out of the many incidents which speak about his humility, here is one. Once brother John and I went to Nepal. I was teaching in a Bible college for a few days. Since the roads were sandy and dusty, my shoes became dirty at the end of the day. Every morning, he would polish my shoes and keep them ready at the doorstep for me to wear. Only a person who intimately knows the humility of Christ, who washed His disciples’ feet, would be willing to serve others humbly.

5. A MAN OF PRAYER AND WORD

Brother John is a man of prayer. He believes in the power of prayer. When it comes to important decisions, he takes time to pray rather than make hasty decisions. If he has problems with any person, he gives himself first to prayer and prays hard. In difficult situations, he pours his heart before his God like a child. If he thinks a lot, he also prays a lot about what he thinks. He has earned the right to say with Paul, “I served the Lord with all humility and with tears” (Acts 20:19).

Brother John and his wife have also developed the habit of studying the Holy Bible in an incredible way. They study the Old Testament twice and the New Testament 20 times every year. Their desire is to live a Bible-saturated life. He keeps encouraging others to study the entire Bible more than once every year. I am slowly toddling in their footsteps, studying the whole Bible at least once a year.

6. A MAN FOR GOSPEL AND FOR CHURCH

Brother John’s greatest passion was for the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the unreached places and for the planting of local churches. Like many missionaries, his focus was not on doing some social work, although he believed and practiced charity. His priority was the gospel and the church, which were also the main thrust of the book of Acts. He strongly believed in the importance of local church and was co-shepherding a church along with an Indian brother.

The co-pastor who served alongside brother John wrote to me, “Brother John is a man of commitment to church. His heart was for church. His sermons were gospel-centered. He gave himself unreservedly to serve the church members. Even when his health was in bad condition, he made himself available for church meetings and to encourage the brothers and sisters in church. Any part of the day or night, whatever the distance, if any church member was in need, he did not miss to serve them. Serving the church diligently and faithfully was his motto. And he patiently and graciously encouraged all the church members to do the same.”

I have known missionaries who were not part of any local church and some who nominally attended the church, but brother John took the local church seriously to heart and had poured his life into it. I wish many missionaries and Christian leaders would imitate his commitment to the gospel and to the local church.

Finally, this is my assertion. In my more than twenty years of Christian life, I have never seen a foreign Christian missionary in India like brother John. My wife wonders whether she would ever meet a missionary couple like them in the future. Although not immune to imperfections, brother John lived an unusual life among us. In a conference which I attended in India, one of his own countrymen said to me, “He is like Jesus.” What a testimony! All glory to God for this unusual man of God. May we imitate such men who imitate Christ.

We miss you, brother John.
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Thursday, May 4, 2017

A More Important Question Than “Why Kattappa Killed Baahubali?”


The movie “Baahubali: The Beginning” in 2015 left the audience with a burning question, “Why Kattappa killed Baahubali?” The media has created so much hype on this question all over India and beyond that crowds have flocked to watch the recent release of “Baahubali 2: The Conclusion.” They were eager to find an answer to this mystery. This movie is said to have made an all-time record in the Indian film industry.

Multitudes of people have found an answer to their long awaited question after watching the movie, but what happened after that? They all went back to their usual routine of life. It did not make any difference in their lives, except that it brought some momentary thrill to their emotions and millions of money to the makers of the movie.

I still do not know why Kattappa killed Baahubali. And even if I come to know, it may satisfy my fleeting curiosity, but it is in no way going to change my life. It is not a question of utmost importance.

However, there is a question more important than “Why Kattappa killed Baahubali?” It is, “Why was Jesus killed?” Unlike the question in the Baahubali movie, this is a real question, for Jesus was really killed on the cross. This is not an entertaining idea, but an eternal truth. The importance and seriousness of this question cannot be exaggerated. This is the question that can change your life for eternity.

Before going further, it should be noted that although it was the joint effort of both Jews and Romans in putting Jesus to death, the Lord Jesus voluntarily surrendered Himself to be killed by them. He asserted, “I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again” (Jn. 10:17, 18).

Moreover, His death did not take Him by surprise, for the Lord Jesus predicted His own death before He was killed: “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise” (Mk. 9:31).

But, why was Jesus killed? Author John Piper wrote the book "50 Reasons Why Jesus Came To Die". This article briefly presents three reasons why Jesus was killed. Or, it may be more appropriate to ask, “Why did Jesus voluntarily lay His life on the cross?”

1. JESUS DIED ON THE CROSS TO RECONCILE US TO THE TRUE, LIVING GOD

The Holy Scripture discloses that there is only One, True, Living God who is Self- Existent, Creator, Infinite, Sovereign, Unchanging, Incomparable, Holy, Loving, Personal, and Eternal (Exo. 3:14; Ps. 71:16; 86:8; 115:15; 147:5; Heb. 13:8; 1 Pet. 1:16; 1 Jn. 4:16; Isa. 40:11; 1 Tim. 1:17).

At one time the human race knew this God intimately, but through sin, all mankind became separated from God. Man in his sinful state has lost the godly knowledge and relationship with this wonderful God, consequently becoming His enemy.

However, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).  Christ died so that we would be reconciled to God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and walk in intimate fellowship with Him (Rom. 5:10; 1 Pet. 3:18).

2. JESUS DIED ON THE CROSS FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF OUR SINS

The Holy Scripture declares that all have sinned and that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 3:23; 6:23).

In order to save us from this eternal death, “He (Jesus) appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin” (1 Jn. 3:5). “He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities” (Isa. 53:5). “He (Jesus) has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb. 9:26).

Since Christ died for the sins of people, our sins are forgiven only in Christ, for He alone sacrificed His life on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins.

3. JESUS DIED ON THE CROSS TO GIVE US ETERNAL LIFE

The Holy Scripture says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). When we repent of our sins and trust in Christ, God forgives our sins in Christ, our penalty for sin is blotted out and we receive the gift of eternal life. In Christ Jesus, instead of eternal death, there is eternal life.

Stated another way, if the wages of sin is eternal death for sinners, then the wages of Christ’s death is eternal life for those who believe in Him. Christ Jesus died and rose from the dead so that those who believe in Him will also rise from the dead to eternal life. In His own words, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live...Do you believe this?” (Jn. 11:25-26)

CONCLUSION

Dear friend, “Why was Jesus killed?” is the most important question on the face of the earth. It is so important because the eternal destiny of your life (and of everyone) is hinged upon your acceptance or rejection of what Jesus did on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins. Would you call upon Jesus with repentance for the forgiveness of your sins and for the gift of eternal life? Assuredly, you will be amazed to see yourself changed, not merely for a moment, but forever.


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Friday, April 21, 2017

Does God Hate Sin and Not the Sinner?


There is a widespread sentiment in Christian circles: “God hates sin but loves the sinner; He doesn’t hate sinners.” How good it sounds to hear God does not hate sinners, only their sin! There are some popular notions in Christian culture that many have naively accepted without examining them in the light of Holy Scripture, for they carry great appeal to man's self-indulgent emotions.

Let us first examine this statement logically—can sin occur without an individual’s choice? We know that sin is an outcome of a person’s will. When one chooses to sin, how can God just hate the sin and not the individual who chose the sin? It is like telling about the murderer who killed your child that you hate the murder and not the murderer. Crime does not exist without a criminal. Sin is not committed without a sinner.

Besides, if God loves the sinners but hates only the sin, can we also inverse the statement and say, “God loves the good deed but He does not love the doer of the good deed?” It doesn’t make sense, right? Just as good reflects the goodness of the one who did the good deed, so sin reflects the vileness of the sinner.

The Holy Bible does reveal that God loves sinners: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). And the Holy Scripture also declares that God hates sinners: “The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; YOU HATE ALL WHO DO WRONG” (Ps. 5:5).

Observe, He not only hates the wrong, but also those who do wrong. God loves and hates sinners. Reformed evangelical theologian and professor of the New Testament, D. A. Carson, comments:
The cliché (God hates the sin but loves the sinner) is false on the face of it, and should be abandoned. Fourteen times in the first fifty psalms alone, the psalmists state that God hates the sinner, that His wrath is on the liar, and so forth. In the Bible the wrath of God rests on both the sin (Rom. 1:18–23) and the sinner (1:24–32; 2:5; John 3:36).
Well, a question may arise, “How can God love and hate the sinner at the same time?” This is a paradox. French theologian and Protestant Reformer, John Calvin, writes about God that “in a marvelous and divine way he loved us even when he hated us.”

The Holy Bible teaches that God is holy and God is love (1 Peter 1:16; 1 John 4:7-8).  God hates sinners because He is holy and righteous, abhorring sins they commit; and He loves them still because He is loving and gracious, manifesting His mercy towards them. Both the holy and loving attributes are manifested in God’s perfect nature.

All men deserve God’s wrath because of their sin. No one deserves His love. His grace is amazing towards the sinners because He loves those who indeed deserve His wrath, and had His Only Son to die for them and save them from His wrath. Blessed be His Glorious and Gracious Name.
"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him." (Jn. 3:36)
Note: This article is an excerpt from the book "Signs of Salvation: Understanding Authentic and Counterfeit Conversion" by C. Stephen David. Click on the following image to find more details.


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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Look at the Modern Christian Devoted to What’sApp and Facebook


This is the tragedy of a modern Christian who has erected idols of social media in his/her life.

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The Holy Scripture: “Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. With this in mind, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18).

The Modern Christian: “Engage with What’sApp and Facebook at all times. With this in mind, keep alert with all perseverance, seeing and responding to the messages that are coming from all the saints.”

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The Psalmist: "In the morning my prayer comes before you (God)” (Ps. 88:13).

The Modern Christian: “In the morning my eyes fall on you (Facebook and What’sApp).”

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The Psalmist:"I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways” (Ps. 119:15).

The Modern Christian: “I will meditate on What’sApp and Facebook and fix my eyes on its posts.”

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King David: "I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night.” (Ps. 63:6)

The Modern Christian, “I remember What’sApp and Facebook on my bed, checking its messages, watching its posts, and meditating on them in the watches of the night.”

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The Early Saints: "And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42).

The Modern Saints: “And they devoted themselves to What’sApp messages, to Facebook posts, to the breaking news and the broadcasts.”

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The Holy Scripture: "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Col. 3:16).

The Modern Christian: “Let the messages from What’sApp and Facebook dwell in your richly, pinging and chatting with one another, reading posts, listening to music, watching videos, forwarding messages, (with forgetfulness in your hearts to God).”

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The Holy Scripture: "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:24-25)

The Modern Saint: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to browse new things and online works, not neglecting to chat together in groups, as is the habit of some, but messaging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."

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The Holy Scripture: "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:33)

The Modern Christian: “But seek first the kingdom of What’sApp and Facebook, (and all the distractions of the world will be added to you).”

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The Psalmist: "My eyes long for your promise; I ask, “When will you comfort me?” (Ps. 119:82)

The Modern Christian: “My eyes long for messages from What’sApp and Facebook; I ask, “When will new posts come and comfort me?” 

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The Holy Scripture: "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thess. 5:16-18)

The Modern Saint: “Stay online always, see messages on What’sApp and Facebook without ceasing, give prompt response to the messages in all circumstances; (for this is the will of the devil apart from Christ Jesus for you)."

"Little children, keep yourselves from idols."
(1 John 5:21)

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Sunday, December 25, 2016

People-Driven Holiness: A Dangerous Pursuit [Part Three]


Fifth, people-driven holiness is doing things to teach others. 


There is a “sacred guilt” that I sometimes carry in my heart. The guilt is, “How can I tell others if I don’t practice it myself.” So I try doing things to be an example to others. This seems good on the surface, for did not Paul write, “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works?” (Tit. 2:7)

However, the problem here is that the focus is more on making others do what they must do rather than to walk personally in obedience to God’s Word. The danger of being an example for others is doing things just for the sake of setting an example rather than becoming obedient to please God who has unconditionally accepted us in Christ Jesus.

It is good that we should practice before we teach, but we must be careful not to practice in order to teach. Our devotion to prayer, intercession, Bible study, church fellowship, evangelism, and all good works, must emanate from our love for the Lord who loved us and laid His life for our sins on the cross.

Imagine that I start spending time with my wife for 30 mins every day. My wife, surprised to see my radical behavior, asks the reason behind my change. I tell her, “You see, I want the husbands in our church to spend time with their wives. So, I decided to spend time with you so that I can tell them to do the same. I don’t want to tell them that which I don’t practice.”

This sounds heroic, but would my wife be impressed with such an attitude? She would only be delighted if I do things because I love her. It disappoints her to know that what I do for her is actually to tell others to imitate me.

An example should be the outcome of our pursuit to please God. We pursue to obey God as an expression of our love for Him because He first loved us. Doing things only for the sake of example in order to teach others displeases God who commands us to do all things for His glory.

Conclusion:


Much of our holy conduct that we manifest among people seem to be driven by our desire to please others, to get their attention, and to feed our image with a good impression. Our hearts are so consumed with self-glory that we may pursue holiness for self-gratification.

When our ulterior motives will be examined and exposed on the Day of Judgment, I think, all our good works may look like filthy rags before the holy God. May the Lord Jesus, who commanded us to deny ourselves and follow Him, deliver us from this bondage of self-absorption.

Remember, only that which is practiced with a sacred consciousness to obey God, to please God, and to glorify God is what is considered as holy before God. People-driven holiness is no holiness at all; it is only hypocrisy and pride.

Therefore, let us constantly examine our hearts in the light of the Holy Spirit, preach the gospel of Christ to ourselves, repent of our sins, pray fervently for a God-fearing heart, and seek the glory of God in all things.

May I close this message with words of one of the Puritans cited by Ernest Kevan on the imperfection of our works: "We do not do all that is commanded but come short of our duty, and that which we do is imperfect and defective in respect of manner and measure; and therefore in justice deserves punishment, rather than reward: and consequently the reward, when it is given, is to be ascribed to God’s undeserved mercy and not to our merit."

 Return to Read Part One 

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People-Driven Holiness: A Dangerous Pursuit [Part Two]


Third, people-driven holiness is doing things to get the attention, praise, and applause of people. 


In the first point, I shared about how admirably we may behave in the presence of others. In the second, how we want our image to be guarded when we fail. In this third point, I want to speak about how we do good things deliberately for others’ approval. 

I remember how I prayed beautifully for the appreciation of others, how I preached well for the attention of others, and how I gave offerings to impress others. And when I didn’t get the response I desired from people, I got disappointed. 

The Lord Jesus, in what is called The Sermon on the Mount, cautioned, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 6:1).

Take note, the Lord is not saying that works of righteousness are invisible, but that the motive behind our good works should not be to be seen and appreciated by people. 

I am afraid, much of the Christian activities that we do are done to be seen and praised by others. Perhaps we give an offering, do evangelism, go to church fellowship, do some good works—all so that people would look at our works of righteousness and get impressed with us. 

How many of us try hiding our folly when we sin, but when we do something good, we want to blow the trumpet and share it with others! Isn’t this what usually happens in social media, like Facebook, What’s App, etc.? We want others to see our good works, put thumbs up or a smiley, and appreciate our acts. 

Interestingly, we may even justify ourself that we share our good works to encourage others, when, in fact, our deceptive heart craves for attention and praise. And how disappointed we feel when we don’t see any appreciative symbols or words for what we have done!

Deeds done for the praise of people receive no praise from our Father in heaven. Our light must shine to glorify the name of God, not ourselves (Matt. 5:16).

Four, people-driven holiness is doing things so that others would do the same for us.


What do I expect when I post a prayer request or a pic or a testimony in social media? I want others to respond with some emojis or words of approval. But, how will they do when I myself don’t do the same for them? Social media has become more like ‘you scratch my back and I scratch your back.’ 

Some may quote the Golden Rule of the Lord Jesus, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12). Are we not just doing what the Lord Jesus said? We appreciate to receive appreciation. We help to receive help. We pray to be prayed for. We give gifts to receive gifts. We attend others’ parties so that they would attend ours, and so on.

Just like some have twisted the words of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” to a command to love oneself, so we may twist the words of Jesus, “Do to others what you wish them to do to you” to doing all things for others in order to get them do the same for us. 

In the Golden Rule, the point of the Lord Jesus is to focus on doing for others that which we expect from them, not doing for others with an expectation to have them do the same for us. 

Think about visiting a person in a hospital and serving him. After his discharge, the person expresses his gratitude for all your kind help. Let’s say you are a transparent person, so you would respond, “O, my friend, let me be frank with you. I have done all these things to you so that when I am in trouble, you would do the same to me.” Would this excite gratitude in that person? 

Doing good for others so that others would do good for us only speaks about our selfishness, not charity.  Click Here to Read Part Three..... 

People-Driven Holiness: A Dangerous Pursuit [Part One]


Note: This article is written in three parts. It would be helpful to the readers to study this material in its entirety in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the message.

What is people-driven holiness? It is an effort to live a pious life with an ulterior motive that is obsessed with self-image. It is a life that appears holy but its focus is on maintaining a good image before people rather than cultivating a good character in the fear of God.

Honestly, there is no such thing as holiness when it is people-driven. But it does appear holy and good before people. Nevertheless, the Lord who searches the heart and tests the mind knows the wickedness behind the appearance of our piety. When He walked in flesh on earth, the Lord said to the religious people who were clothed with people-driven holiness:
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matthew 23:27-28)
Let me share five features of people-driven holiness. I have learned these lessons primarily by observing the filthiness of my own heart, which only the Spirit of God can expose.

First, people-driven holiness is led by the fear of what people think about oneself. 


The other day, I was all set to go to church fellowship, but my family wasn’t ready yet. I got frustrated because I love to be on time for church. So I yelled at my kids to leave the house immediately and hopped into the car and on the way I spoke rudely to my wife.

After some time, I thought, “What if there were guests at my home. Would I have behaved in the same manner?” No, I would have conducted myself politely, suppressing all my frustration. My guests would have thought how patient and gentle I am at home.

What do you think my motive behind my pious conduct if there were guests at my home? It is the fear of what they would think about me. [But how constant and genuine my holiness would be if I live every moment of my life knowing that God is with me and watching me, and that I do all things to please Him and glorify His Name! Sadly, this is often not the case.]

Though being wicked in my heart, how easy it is to paint the picture of piety before others in order not to let my image get debased. Don’t you think many times we are driven to behave well in order to guard our self-image before others? We often give a different impression to others than what we actually are in the inside.

This also reminds me of my commitment not to share about my personal, family, and ministry needs with others, except when I am given the freedom to do so. People think I am a man of faith, like George Mueller.

However, considering the sinfulness of my heart, I fear such a commitment essentially is not to uphold the glory of God by my faith in Him. It may be my arrogance which refuses to stretch my hands before others for help, and also not wanting my image to be marred like many Christian leaders who publicly make financial appeals. Who knows, it could also be a subtle way to let others know, “Hey, I don’t ask money from anyone. So, remember to help me without me asking you.”

It seems a lot of our good conduct is manifested, not out of our fear of God, but out of our fear of people’s impression about us. Holiness can be pursued for self-image with no focus on being conformed to the image of Christ.

Second, people-driven holiness is more focused about personal honor rather than repenting of one’s failures. 


Due to my forgetful nature and negligent attitude in house responsibilities, I commit many blunders and often make my wife upset. Sometimes, she raises her voice to express her frustration and to get my attention. 

As long as the conflict is just between my wife and me, it’s fine; but, if I realize somebody is nearby, hearing her upsetting voice over me, I get very angry. I want my wife to let others think good about me, whatever my conduct may be. I cannot tolerate if my image is tarnished before others.  

Voluntarily or involuntarily, when someone corrects me before others, like a patriotic soldier who fights for his nation, I want to immediately rise to defend my image. I want to say, "It's okay that I've failed. We all fail. But don't think bad about me. That's not what I am." 

Of course, it is good that correction must be generally given in private. However, our problem is that when we fail, we are too obsessed with our self-image before others rather than about our flawed character, confession of sin, and transformation. 

When Saul was rejected by the Lord for disobeying His commandment, Samuel sharply rebuked him. Do you know what Saul said to Samuel? “I have sinned; yet honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel” (1 Sam. 15:30). 

Observe the words of Saul, “I have sinned, YET honor me before people.” Many times, do we not manifest similar sinful attitude? No matter how sinful our behavior is, we want to be honored before people and desire our image to be highly esteemed. 

Those whose holiness is people-driven, they do not walk in transparency about their weaknesses, failures, and imperfections. They do not usually take correction and ask apology with humility. Even if they do these acts, they do so with concern about their image before others. They are basically good at justifying themselves. Despite their obvious failures, they always want to impress others that they are strong and good.  Click Here to Read Part Two.....