John 7:18 “Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory,<sup class="crossreference" value="(S)”> but he who seeks the glory of the One who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.”

     Eloquent words don’t always come out of Godly people.  Eloquent words can dish out selfish lies just as easily as the truth.  Preaching good and doing good can be the best way to serve the selfish end of looking good.  The people who listened to Jesus at the temple courts during the feast of Tabernacles were amazed at His teaching; “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?” (John 7:15)   Many ordinary people in the crowd thought He was a good man.  The Pharisees who always looked good said He was a deceiver.  The Pharisees couldn’t care less about the people.  The Bible tells us why the Pharisees were worried about Jesus; “If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”  (John 11:48)

     Selfishness can masquerade behind the best of intentions serving the worst of our nature.  Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between selfish lies and the truth. The Bible gives a good example of this in the parable of the rich young ruler.  Jesus is asked; “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16)  Jesus responds; “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” (v. 17)  The rich young ruler affirms his ‘goodness’; “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?” (v. 20)  Jesus cuts through his facade; “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (v. 21)  The rich young ruler’s ‘goodness’ evaporated; “But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.” (v. 22)

     The Pharisees spoke on their own as did the rich young ruler.  When we hold ourselves up as good examples, as having good intentions or even voicing regret (without true repentance) for past mistakes because of their personal consequences we speak on our own serving our own selfish interests.  The apostle Paul speaking to the Thessalonians gave the basic nature of honest preaching: ” . . . we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed. We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority.”  (1 Thessalonians 2:4-6)

     Those who bring glory to God are approved by God by being entrusted with His Gospel not their own views or their own agendas.  Those who bring glory to God are accountable to God and do not insist on bending others to their will in place of God’s.  They know that God tests their hearts first and foremost.  Those who bring glory to God don’t play on the ego of others through flattery or being two faced serving their own greed or pride while claiming to serve God.  Those who bring glory to God do not need to assert their own authority because the authority of His Word, rightly used, brings His results.  The ‘goodness’ of many wolves in sheep’s clothing will evaporate when held up to Paul’s tenets of honest preaching.

     What can you do if you find yourself within ‘earshot’ of someone who is speaking ‘on his own’?  Scripture tells us plainly; “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.”  (Ephesians 5:6,7)  

     Praise the Lord!