The Obstacle to Faith
by Jacob Hudgins
“How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?”(John 5:44)
Jesus is dealing with obstinate Jews who are seeking to kill him for his Sabbath healing. They continue to reject him despite miracles and transcendent teaching. Yet Jesus stresses that a lack of faith is not the root problem. Beneath their unbelief is what they are seeking. “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?”(John 5:44).
The obstacle to faith is a desire to please and gain honor from man rather than God. Perhaps we can gain that honor through tremendous exploits of sin. Perhaps it surfaces as a desire to fit in and go along with evil activities. Perhaps we seek the honor of others through religious activity, earning our credibility over years of diligent church work and sacrifice. Perhaps it is simply our own sense of honor for ourselves, happy with the character we have chosen. One thing is certain: if we seek to please man, we will have a hard time believing. We may blame it on ineffective arguments, or hypocritical teachers, or imperfect churches, but the problem rests with us.
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ”(Gal 1:10). Notice that Paul says “If I were still trying to please man,” admitting that his service under the law of Moses was more about pleasing men than God. Jesus urged honest evaluation of motives: “If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority”(John 7:17). Jesus promises the blessing of understanding and knowledge to those who desire foremost to know and do God's will. Lesser motives are obstacles to faith.
God calls us to self-examination. Whose glory are we seeking? Do we want to obey Him more than all else? Is selfish ambition hindering us from deeper faith? Have we allowed worldly cares to distract us from what was once the passion of our hearts? What is the glory of men compared to the glory that comes from the only God? Seek His glory!