In his Counsel to Gospel Ministers, John Brown lists the rancid fruit of “indulging in ambitious inclinations” which leads us to “hunt after vainglory and applause from men”:
- It will dispose you to trample the commands of God under foot
- It will fearfully root out all proper regard for holiness
- It will lead you to make shipwreck of faith and of a good conscience
- It will tempt you to say and do anything to please such as can promote your ambitious design
- It will separate you from God as far as possible and render you an enemy to Him.
- It will lead you to rob God of his due honor
- It will deprive you of a gracious reward from God for your labors or even provoke Him to render you contemptible before men and an example of His destructive vengeance.
- It will rob you of the joy of a good conscience when men speak evil of you.
Brown is not against seeking to advance the kingdom of God or taking opportunities which are given to you. Instead he is against that which is “eagerly seeking after outward, fame, honor, and advancement.
As I read Brown’s counsel I not only try to apply it to my life as a pastor but also as a pastor who uses social media. A lust for platform—whether it’s being able to brag about baptism numbers or Twitter followers—will always take you further than you wanted to go. You might even succeed in gaining that platform but these vices will follow you to the top. It’s no wonder we see so many men climb to the top and then experience a mighty fall; these vices followed them.
I’m reminded of the words of another Puritan, Thomas Boston, who said:
Consider that the applause of the world is nothing worth. It is hard to be gotten; for readily the applause of the unlearned is given to him whom the learned despise, and the learned applaud him whom the common people care not for. And when it is received, what have you? A vain empty puff of wind. They think much of thee, thou think much of yourself, and in the meantime God thinks nothing of thee. (From The Art of Manfishing)
Brothers and sisters let us heed these words and see the hook instead of the bait.
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