We all know one. The photobomber. They lurk among us waiting to strike. With precision timing, they lunge from the shadows just before the camera’s flash. Not content to stay on the sidelines, they want to draw attention to themselves.
Most photobombers are just extending their childhood role as class clown and everyone gets a laugh… the first time. But what about those persistent photobombers? You know, the ones who won’t quit? You want a nice photo but they keep getting in the way. After a few ruined photos, you look directly at them and say: “STOP PHOTOBOMBING!”
I think God feels like this every day.
WE are photobombing God.
He is putting His glory on display for the world to see and we get in the way! Sure, God is still in the picture, but the picture is ruined. We aren’t supposed to be the center of attention, God is.
But God isn’t laughing. We are the photobombers that won’t quit. Day after day we keep grabbing a little attention here and there. We want others to notice us and what we do.
Part one of this blog series showed how God is searching for servants after His own heart. To become this kind of servant, we must know His desires.
Answering these two questions will help us understand His heart and desires:
1. Why does God hate it when we photobomb Him?
Photobombing God goes against His ultimate goal. God’s ultimate goal is to put His glory on display.
"For my own sake, for my own sake, I will act; for how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another.” Isaiah 48:11
God’s glory is the reason behind everything He does. The Bible mentions other goals, but they are secondary goals that are a means to glorify Himself.
A few ways that God acts for His glory:
We were created for His glory. "Everyone who is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, even whom I have made.” Is. 43:7
God redeemed Israel for His glory. "For the Lord has redeemed Jacob and in Israel He shows forth His glory.” Is. 44:23
God saved Israel at the Red sea for His glory. "Nevertheless He saved them for the sake of His name, that He might make His power know.” Ps. 106:8
Salvation for the glory of God. "Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Thy name; and deliver us, and forgive our sins, for Thy name's sake.” Ps. 79:9
God predestined us for His glory. "He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace.” Eph. 1:5-6
Christ's purpose in dying was to glorify God. "Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, 'Father, save me from this hour?' But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father glorify Thy name." John 12:27, 28a
Judgment of the wicked for His glory. "But, indeed, for this cause I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power, and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth.” Ex. 9:16
Will return for His glory. "when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed-“ 2 Thes. 1:10
God is the most God-centered being in the universe. Everything He does is done to reveal more of who He is, so that He will receive glory. He is worthy of worship. "Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created.” Rev. 4:11 Even God’s goal of acting for love of man is a secondary goal. God is central, not man. “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever.” Rom. 11:36
We are told to do everything for His glory: "Whether then you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God". (1 Cor. 10:31) If it is holy and righteous for us to do everything for His glory, cannot the same be said of God? In fact, if we do NOT do something for God’s glory, it is idolatry. The same is true of God. If God acts for a reason other than His glory, He would be guilty of idolatry. By acting for something else He would be placing it as a more worthy goal than Himself. That is idolatry.
Photobombing God also goes against our purpose to point others to God’s greatness. We never add to God’s glory, we just help others to see His glory. When we photobomb God we get in the way of His glory being seen. We are opposing God’s ultimate goal!
This is why God speaks so much against pride. Pride gets in the way of God’s glory. Is. 2:17 says "And the pride of man will be humbled, and the loftiness of men will be abased, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day."
Another way to illustrate what happens when we photobomb God is embezzling. We are supposed to help others see His glory. Any glory that we take is embezzled. We have stolen it from God! What makes embezzling so terrible is that we put on a good face while serving God day by day, all the while we are taking glory and recognition for ourself. Sure, we don’t steal all of it; but any honor, recognition or glory doesn’t belong to us. It is embezzled from God in the very act that is supposed to give Him glory.
How deceitful our pride can be!
How do we photobomb God?
There are many ways that we photobomb God:
Pride is like our own personal fan club. It watches our every move and cheers us on, validating our perceived greatness. It also watches others to see if they notice our perceived greatness and join our personal fan club.
Maybe that isn’t you. Maybe instead you are consumed with thoughts of your inadequacy or sacrifice for God. Pride can also seek to be noticed by others for our weakness, struggles, busyness or sacrifice. Here, pride throws us a personal pity party. Getting support and encouragement isn’t wrong, we are told to encourage one another, but wanting others to join our personal pity party is rooted in pride.
When pride is at work, we aren’t trying to help people see God. We are trying to be seen. Pride hinders our usefulness to God because He wants to use servants who don’t embezzle recognition and photobomb His glory.
Remember when God shrunk Gideon’s army to a small band of men? God did this so there would be no question whose power saved Israel. “The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’” Judg. 7:2
God’s goal hasn’t changed. He is still putting His glory on display and is looking for servants who aren’t seeking to be seen. "But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” Is. 66:2 When He looks at my heart, does He find humility? Pride hinders my usefulness in ministry because “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Pet. 5:5
Only when I stop seeking to be seen can I truly serve God. I need to daily remind myself that everything I am and have is a gift. I don’t deserve recognition. If I am amazed at God, I will be looking at Him, not trying to get others to see me.
It can be a difficult balance in ministry to point others to what God is doing through us. We do need to share the incredible things God is doing, but we also need to guard our heart's against the desire to be seen by others. The temptation can be to take a little glory for ourselves.
Throughout my ministry I have had the goal of making much of God. But I am amazed at the times I photobombed God by hoping to be seen or recognized for my actions (even just a little). I know in my head that I don’t deserve a drop of recognition, but my sinful heart still savors the “good job Kyle”.
Battling our tendency to photobomb God
I must daily guard my heart against pride. It is so sneaky that it can even wear a mask of righteousness. Here are a few helpful ways to identify and battle the pride that lurks within.
-Daily ask ourself:
Am I lost in Awe or have I lost my Awe? If I have lost my awe I need time alone with God to simply worship. I need to be amazed at Him, not me.
-Memorize reminders of God’s greatness:
“Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” Ps. 115:3
-Memorize reminders of God’s greatness & our weakness:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
“What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” 1 Cor. 4:7
-Ask God to reveal areas of pride:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” Ps. 139:23-24
-Remember that pride robs us of reward:
“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
-Massive amounts of prayer:
Prayer works like poison on pride. If we build everything on the foundation of prayer, it serves as a reminder to us and others that God alone is worthy of glory.
Have you been photobombing God?
God wants to use servants that don’t get in the way of His glory. His ultimate goal is to show His glory. Why would He set His big tasks before servants that are trying to get their own glory? This is why God uses the weak and lowly, because they don’t photobomb God! They truly believe in their head and heart that they are nothing apart from God. They gladly step back and allow God to be seen in His full glory. They don’t jump in the way!
If we desire to be used by God as a servant after God’s own heart, we must battle the pride within.
How are you photobombing God?
"Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory". Ps. 115:1
More to follow...
For years the desire to be a servant after God’s own heart has consumed my personal devotions and journalling. "After God's Own Heart" is a series of blog posts from those journals. This is the 2nd post in that series. I write not as an expert, but as your fellow servant seeking to please our glorious Master. My prayer is that these meditations will be a stepping stone for others to join me in the journey of becoming a servant after God's own heart.