Heavenly, Not Worldly, Stars

I have read that stars die. And that the bigger the star, the quicker it dies, and vice versa. The smaller the star, the longer it lives.

It is comforting in the Spirit to hear that stars die. The only way we can achieve heavenly glory is to die. When we talk of God’s Kingdom, the foremost realization we should have is that it is a spiritual Kingdom, not a material or physical one. That is why many of the true spiritual heroes that we shall find in heaven when we get there will be men and women who were unknown in this world. They were dead to this world, and therefore unsung by it. They were men and women who did things before God, and not before men; who served God in, as the Apostle Peter says,

“the hidden man of the heart” (1 Pet. 3:4).

One of the greatest Books that I have ever held in my hands is the Swahili Bible (1952 Union Version). This particular Bible was translated from the King James Version of the Bible, and it is an incredible translation. There are a number of other adjectives that I would use to describe this Bible: amazing, spectacular, brilliant, magnificent, outstanding. In my assessment, it is one of the truly great literary works alive and deserving of all acclaim.

But there is another remarkable thing about this Bible. In its preface, the translators refer to themselves simply as “We, the translators”. That is all that is written about them: “We, the translators”. There is no mention of their names, nor of anything else about them. If I ever wanted to know who they were, I wouldn’t know where to begin searching.

I have often wondered about these translators. Who were these Swahili men (and women, probably) who were so educated in those early days that they could translate the Bible to such a degree? Colonialism had not even ended; where did they get such an exceptional education? And the truly great question: how did they arrive at the decision to not identify themselves? These two questions bothered me for a very long time.

But, one day, the light broke through. I finally realized that those two questions can be answered very easily when you realize that God was working in and with these men. I realized that, where God is involved, man steps aside. He is not visible because he has died to his natural state.

In that singular Book these people have done a far greater work in the Spirit wherever the Swahili language is spoken than all other works past, present and future combined. For that reason, these men ought to be the stars of our generation. But these men, who handled God’s holy Word firsthand, received from God the greatest gift of all: the wisdom to not leave a record of themselves.

God does not want us to be stars in the worldly sense. He detests the glory of this world which is of the flesh. The only goal acceptable to God in any and everything we do is to bring glory to Him alone, for He alone is worthy. Hallelujah!

Unfortunately, since we are prisoners of the flesh, we find ourselves sorely tempted to flaunt our own glory rather than God’s. In so many ways, we stand accused in this regard. But, interestingly, we are not done yet. That is still not enough for us. We have chosen to take things to another level, so to speak. It is normal nowadays to have superstar preachers, superstar gospel singers, New York bestsellers and all kinds of other superstars within the church. People are even using God’s ministries – the apostle, prophet, pastor, evangelist and teacher – to seek for stardom.

So many believers are getting lost in worldly glory. In my country, I have even heard someone tell of how, once they realized they could sing really well, they pulled out of their church choir and started a solo gospel singing career.

Sometimes God’s love for His children leads Him to do things that we think are cruel. But, in actual fact, it is God’s love in action. When gospel stars die young, people are full of grief, not realizing that, in most of these cases, God is saving that person from a dangerous situation. He is saving them from a perilous road they were hurtling down unaware of the consequences to their souls – the road of fame and stardom; the road of certain spiritual ruin and destruction. God decided, “Oh, no, I love this person too much, I am not going to allow them to go down that road” – and He took them home.

In most cases, gospel stars begin their ministry with a lot of humility and with the fear of God attending their souls. Unfortunately, that is the last time God will hear from them, so to speak. After the money begins rolling in and the fame begins surrounding them, they want to become stars in the natural.

But if we are to be stars in the Spirit, we have to die first. We have to die to worldly glory. Many of the gospel music artistes alive today, in my country and elsewhere, need to realize that they are alive because of God’s mercy. They are alive because God is giving them chance after chance to glorify Him alone through the gift of music that He has given them. In other words, God is giving them all the rope He can. It is because He loves them. And when He takes them home at an early age, it is also out of love.

[One day, even the sun will die]


Stars Forever!

Stars Forever!

41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.
42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 1 Cor. 15:41-44
Hi folks! Before we look at the Word of God today, I wish first of all to apologise because I have been ‘off the radar’ for an unforgivably long time. I wish to assure my fellow bloggers that during my disappearance no ill-will was intended on my part and from the bottom of my heart I thank you all for your patience, prayers and love.

During my recess, I found myself thinking about stars – again! Star-gazing is so addictive, and I am already hooked…

In the 1990s the great soul artist Diana Ross would only need to sing the first line of her song, “When You Tell Me That You Love Me”, and the audience would go mad with applause. They would applaud so loudly and for so long that she would sometimes finish the first stanza while they were still applauding.

The first line to that song goes, “I wanna call the stars down from the sky”.

There is something about stars – their mysteriousness – that draws at people’s hearts. But the truth is that these great audiences would applaud because Diana was a star. If you or I were to try and sing that song and even post it on Youtube, we would be lucky to get one ‘Like’. This is because we are the great unknowns. But Diana was a star.

Unfortunately, worldly stardom is temporal at its very best. And the bad news does not end there. Much of the time, worldly glory brings pain and destruction to its bearers.

That is why when we as believers have our heads on right, we find ourselves distancing ourselves from the worldly glory in all its forms. This is because our inner spiritual eyes will have been opened to see another glory, another stardom that far (incomparably) surpasses this worldly glory in its beauty, purity and eternity. We may not have seen anything on the outside but on the inside we have.

In fact I remember when I got saved I had my ‘stars’, one of whom was a Congolese singer called Franco. I did not understand one word of French or the Congolese in which he sang his songs, but I was a goner with him.

I had a cassette player which I would put on the window facing the road (our house was right by the main village street). With the volume on full, I would play Franco the whole day, my impressionable young mind believing that the whole world worshipped at Franco’s feet.

On the day I got saved, something happened inside of me and in an instant I lost interest in Franco, Bob Marley, and everyone else. I ‘discovered’ the beauty of gospel songs, songs that spoke of the high praises of our God. I found myself carried away on an entirely different tidal wave.

God has reserved for us a different kind of glory than the worldly glory. All the worldly glories combined cannot compare to the tiniest bit of glory that we as children of God will be clothed in when we get to heaven in victory. All the worldly stars combined are as a mote, as a vapor, when compared to the smallest star in the Kingdom of God. And the heavenly one is eternal.

That is why I cannot understand a Christian pastor who gets listed in Forbes magazine because of the worldly wealth that he owns. Or the Christian author who wants to be listed on the New York Times’ bestseller list. Nor the ordinary born-again believer who is forever moaning and complaining about how everyone seems not to notice them. To what end is all this futile race for? What do we want to get noticed for?

If we want to share in the heavenly glory, there is a price to pay. Get lost. Die. Go dig a grave and bury yourself and do not even think of getting yourself out. God Himself will come after three days (that’s to make sure you are well and truly dead), and He will resurrect you from death. He will resurrect you to live a life of true glory, because you have discarded the fading glories of this world.

In Biblical and practical terms, it means to deny ourself, to take up our cross and follow Christ. There are many situations and circumstances where we are daily required to relinquish our lives, our pride, our prejudices, our rights, our likes and dislikes – and to count ourselves as nothing in this world.

In fact, you can think of a situation in your life right now where you are required to lose. You probably are not a man of great patience, like me. God will work on us till we become meek as Jesus. The solution to arriving there is simple: swallow your pride and allow the grace of God to break you so that you may lose in that situation. If you allow this to happen, in the Spirit you will begin shining right there and then. That’s the heavenly equation.

An understanding of the cross is so vital to the church. This is particularly so today where the gates of the enemy – the flesh, the devil, the world – are pressing so hard against the Kingdom of God. That is why we get to understand more and more why the Apostle Paul would not preach any other gospel save the revelation of the cross. He knew that this gospel alone had the power to deal with the flesh. And once you deal with the flesh you have dealt with the world and the devil – and sin.

If we are to be partakers of the heavenly glory, the heavenly stardom, we have a price to pay. We have to “plant” this worldly life by losing it.

[Lose your life happily?]


Of Stars and the Resurrection Glory

41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.

42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:

43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:

44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 1 Cor. 15:41-44

The subject of stars intrigues me exceedingly, and I keep coming back to this topic.

When you look up into the sky at night you will notice that all stars are not the same. Some shine brighter than others. There are some, even, which incessantly reflect off different colors, like a diamond turning in the light.

In the Bible, the stars speak of the sons of God. And the Bible says that at the resurrection of the dead, we will differ in our glory.

What determines how believers will shine in heaven is the subject of this portion of scripture. The keyword here is “sown”. It matters very much how we “sow” our lives in this world. This is what will determine how brightly we shine in God’s heavenly Kingdom.

It is natural for us in our human state to desire glory, honor, respect and admiration and everything this world can offer. These are things that we desire if we are not transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. But here the Bible tells us exactly what to seek for if we are to share in the resurrection of the dead in a powerful way – no glory, no honor, no admiration, no profit, no nothing, in this world.

On the contrary, we are to seek to lose.

Apart from the pain that He endured at His crucifixion, and the humiliation that He physically and verbally endured from men when He was here on earth, yet I daresay that the very thought of Him becoming man was probably the biggest affront to Jesus’s nature as a holy God. For this would require Him to put on the body of sinful flesh!

But Jesus humbled Himself and put on that body. And He came and He lived with and in that body of sin in this world of sin for 33 years, and He did not commit a single sin. The Bible says He was tried in every area of His life. Every area! Each part of His flesh was touched by temptation.

Y’know, I write this blog and a dear friend once commented to me that my face looks like the face of Jesus! True to my stupid nature, instead of crying I laughed! Probably the only saving grace is that I laughed out of bitterness.

I probably am more handsome than Jesus was in the flesh. But I am also assured that in the list of things that matter with God, a sweet face is not there. And my friend certainly had no way of knowing some things about me.

My friend had no way of knowing that one of the things that astounds me beyond belief is the depth of the pride in my heart. Not someone else’s, no, but mine. Scientists have declared that the universe is infinite, which means that only God can know the ends of it. In the same way, I also have come to the conclusion that the heart of man is unfathomable. Only God can plumb its depths.

That is why our Lord Jesus deserves so much glory, admiration and honor. Would you believe that the Lord Jesus did not have an iota of pride in Him? Nothing of it in what He thought, did or spoke. In His fathomless heart, Jesus had not an iota of pride or any kind of sin. Think about that.

There is no word sufficient to describe that state of affairs, or that kind of heart. The word “incredible” is a miserable understatement here. Jesus did what no man can even think of attaining to – and all while having on the very same body of sin that we have. And because He wrought this great victory on our behalf we, too, ought to walk in that same victory over sin as He did.

That is why we need to pray for a clearer and clearer revelation of the cross, so that we may learn to lose our lives more and more through the trying of our faith, for the express purpose of attaining to the hope of shining like one of the brightest stars in the heavens at the resurrection.

[Below: Some neighborly friends]

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Resurrection, stars, pride, Jesus, glory, humility

Celestial Glory and Terrestrial Glory – Part 2

God does not call us to the glory of this world (terrestrial glory). He calls us to a different glory. It is a glory that in the worldly sense is no glory at all. It is a glory that does not seek after anything of this world.

Verse 43 tells us that the resurrection of the dead “is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power”.

To put it out in screaming headlines: THERE IS NO WORLDLY GLORY OR HONOR ASSOCIATED WITH A SPIRITUAL MAN OR WOMAN. There is only disgrace, tough times, lack, scorn, sometimes insults and beatings, and such like things.

And this state of affairs is to be borne in a spirit of love and humility.

Notice the scripture also says, “It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body” (v.44).

The term ‘spiritual body’ here is not referring to ghosts or the spectral beings that the world associates with the word ‘spirit’. Rather, it is referring to the character of God. In other words, when we crucify our carnal lusts at the cross with Jesus, we are raised up with the spiritual life or character of God in us. We become spiritual as opposed to carnal. We die to our natural man. Someone can slap me on the right cheek and I can turn the left one for him to slap, in perfect peace.

The bottom line is that the heavenly glory is tied up with suffering – and death – in the flesh. In Romans 8:16-17 we read: “16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”

Shouldn’t we be rejoicing here? The Bible says right there that when we are suffering with Christ, the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are being conformed to the nature of God – being made heirs of God’s promise in the Spirit.

I love the fact that the Holy Spirit can bear witness with my spirit that I am doing something right.

When I mention the word ‘promise’ I am not talking about those 365 promises that my charismatic friends have dug up in the Bible (“a promise for each day”, they say, which probably is not a bad thing).

But I am talking about God’s promise to make us spiritual men and women. That is our true inheritance. That is the spiritual promise. That is the celestial glory.

And who is sufficient for these things? Only the revelation of the cross in our hearts can bring this sufficiency. That is why the Apostle Paul would not preach the early churches any other gospel except Christ and Him crucified. And when the churches reneged on their first love, he went back and reminded them of this same gospel. He did not change his message. For he knew that if they would not suffer with Christ by taking up their cross and following Him, they would remain carnal, worldly – and defeated – churches.

We need to ask ourselves, and each other: what glory are we seeking after?

[Below: The sun setting over Singida]

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Celestial Glory and Terrestrial Glory – Part 1

40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.

41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.

42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:

43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:

44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 1 Corinthians 15:40-44

There is something extremely powerful about heavenly bodies – the stars, the planets and galaxies that we know in the natural. They have a magnetic pull to them that has drawn men to seek after them at great cost both to life and in material terms.

But these physical heavenly wonders are merely terrestrial bodies and their glory is terrestrial. “Terrestrial” means “of this world, earthly”. We could add “momentary, temporal”.

With due respect to the great men and women at NASA and elsewhere who sacrifice so much to chart the universe on our behalf, I cannot but say in view of what the Bible teaches that would that we spent all that money, energy, time – yes, even the lives lost – for the true glory, the celestial glory!

There are “stars” also of another kind. These are the icons and celebrities of this world; the people we love to idolize. Our hearts melt in the presence of the great men and women of this world.

A man of God once said, however, “Do not look at the stars.” He was talking about these people. They are mere men and women, he said.

There are many believers today, especially young people, who are drawn to the celebrities of this world. Because they have not grasped well the gospel of Jesus Christ, they experience a spiritual vacuum in their hearts. This makes their young, impressionable minds to be easily drawn to the things of this world, chief of which are its celebrities and ‘idols’.

In recent times also, Christianity has slowly but surely veered off into the realm of ‘iconism’. Men of God have allowed themselves to be deified and idolized. As a result, many Christians are increasingly being led to seek after the glory of this world in its various forms.

But I believe that when we catch the true gospel in our hearts, worldly “stardom” loses its glimmer for us. It becomes dull and it dies a natural death in our hearts.

I believe that the dying stars that astronomers are discovering today are a metaphor for this.

We already noted in an earlier post that Paul was no astronomer. We can also add here that nor would he have been a fan of the “USA for Africa – We Are the World” band. So when Paul talks about terrestrial and celestial glory, he is neither referring to this incredibly awe-inspiring endless physical universe, nor even of the people in it whom we idolize.

Actually, Paul at no single time talked about earth and stones or anything material. Reading some portions of his letters, you might think he did. But he never did. Today we have born-again believers who have all the time in the world to talk about these things, to advocate for this and that worldly agenda, and even to pioneer new ones of their own. There are even Bibles which carry commentaries on every topic under the earth!

But here Paul is talking about something entirely different. Notice in verse  42 that he is talking about “the resurrection of the dead”. And when he says “dead” he is not referring to the dead stars that astronomers talk about. He is talking about human beings.

Paul had only one agenda, and it came out unmistakeably in every letter he wrote. We see him here clearly juxtaposing the great struggle that is going on in the spirit world between the forces of evil and the Spirit of God for our souls’ sakes. The forces of evil use the carnal desires of our flesh to wage their war against us; the Holy Spirit uses our surrendered spirits to conform us to Christ.

When we answer to the flesh and its lusts, we are seeking after terrestrial glory.

God’s Patience

I have been thinking a lot about stars lately, and one thought especially has been bearing hard on me. I have been thinking that the stars we see today have been there, twinkling, ever since the day God created them. The Bible in Genesis 1:16 says simply that after God had made the sun and the moon, “he made the stars also”.

Nothing about them has changed. Now, I know modern-day astronomers are telling us about how stars are being born and how others are dying. Of course, astronomers use powerful telescopes whose capabilities I have no reason to question. But from my uninformed village deep in the sub-Saharan bush (literally), all I know is that when I look up at night I can see stars exactly the same way that I have being seeing them ever since I was old enough to begin making out things.

There is a band of stars, for example, that I have become very familiar with. It is a thick band, almost like a cloud, and it rises from the east at about 7 p.m. and many times I just sit outside my house for hours and watch it crawling across the sky. Sometimes my family have a hard time calling me in for dinner!

I have also noticed how the stars emerge with the gradual onset of darkness; they emerge one by one. One very bright star emerges first and soon, by around 8 p.m. the sky is awash with them.

But the really important thing that I have been learning about these celestial bodies is the patience of God. He has allowed them to rest exactly the way they are for thousands of years. I wonder, God is so patient! Now, this post is not about us and patience. For now, let me simply invite you to savor the great wonder of the great patience of God.

And right here please allow me to send my love to all who might be reading this blog right now. And may I remind you that God is deeply patient with you, too. May the Lord bless you.

[Below: My camera couldn’t capture the stars, so I settled on the moon instead.]


The Eternal Glory

There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. 1 Corinthians 15:41

I very much doubt that the Apostle Paul was into astronomy. Nowhere in the Bible does it indicate that he dabbled in that fine art, not before, nor even after he met Christ. When he therefore talks about the sun, the moon and the stars Paul is not talking about these great creations of God as we know them in the natural.

We recall Joseph and his dreams. In one of them Joseph was shown the sun, the moon and eleven stars bowing down to him. We all know that the forms he saw referred to his father and his brethren. In other words, they referred to people!

So it is with Paul here. He is talking about people. I will leave someone else to explain what the sun and the moon refer to in this scripture. I will only talk about the stars. The stars here refer to you and me. This particular scripture gives us one of the most powerful glimpses into the Kingdom of Heaven as it will be in eternity. Paul here is saying that at the resurrection of the dead, some of us will have more glory than others.

That’s a sobering thought, if ever there was one. This is pretty serious stuff Paul is talking of here. When you read Romans chapter 8 verses 29 and 30, as well as other scriptures (verse 17, etc.) you notice that the end of our calling is glorification with Jesus Christ. But it is clear that we will not all be at the same level of glory with one another – or even with Jesus! The latter thought ought to sober us up even more.

And you don’t need a degree in theology to understand the implications of that. All it means is that the life we have now, in this world, is an opportunity to serve God and His Church, as well as all of mankind with all our hearts, all our minds and all our strength as we look forward to the eternal reward.

Let us not waste this precious opportunity by serving self. Let us rather desire to crucify self at the cross and take up the life of Christ – as we look to the glory to come.

I love what the Apostle Paul says in Galatians 5:13: “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”

The next time you look up into the night sky and see a star twinkling, think about you – and the life God has called you to live.

[Below: With wonderful brethren in the North of Mauritius.]

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Depending on God

One day King David decided to do a head count of all the children of Israel and the Bible says that God got very angry with him. I don’t know why David decided to do the head count in the first place, but my deduction is that David failed to guard his heart and this gave the enemy a chance to tempt him. In fact, in 1Ch 21:1  the Bible says that “Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.”

We all know that when our hearts are not well we are easily defeated by the enemy.

Obviously, in numbering the Israelites David was seeking for some sort of assurance about his national strength. This kind of attitude breeds pride in a man’s heart and it greatly displeased God that David of all people should seek to rely on the numerical strength of the Israelites instead of the God who had delivered him from all his enemies.

All of Israel knew that one night God brought Abraham out from his tent and told him to try and count the stars. God told Abraham that He would multiply his offspring and that they would become as uncountable as the stars of heaven. When Abraham heard God’s words he did not try to count the stars. He simply believed what God told him, and his faith pleased God.

Ever since that time it was an ordinance in Israel to believe in that promise of God to Abraham. Even when the children of Israel would go astray, somehow they never wavered from the belief that they were special because of the promise that God gave to Abraham – that He would multiply his offspring as the stars of heaven and that He would bless them.

In the same way, the Church is also expected to walk by faith and God is not pleased when we are not walking by faith. We might take it lightly, but we see that God was so angry with David that He punished him.

Depending entirely on God seems like very strange language nowadays. We keep hearing false doctrines that challenge us to be self-sufficient and self-made men and women. Just the other day I had a preacher say: “Money brings respect!” He continued, “Abraham bequeathed gold and material wealth to his children; what are you going to leave to your children?” I have also heard: “It is a shame for a full-bearded father to not know what his family is going to have for lunch!” We look down on the person who has no ‘drive’ in him or the one who is not ‘making money’. In the Church today we hear all kinds of language that is full of human pride though the speakers are hardly aware of it. The poor and weak are mercilessly bashed in the Church.

One of the worst things that have invaded the Church today are Christians calling themselves ‘motivational speakers’. There is nothing spiritual about being a motivational speaker; that is simply the spirit of the world. A motivational speaker does not build up people in their spirits; he builds up their egos.

This disease of self-sufficiency is deeply entrenched particularly in our generation and in the developed world. There are people of God who have peace only when their bank accounts or their businesses are running well. Others stock their houses, cupboards and kitchens with all the stuff they ‘need’; and then they begin running ‘on a budget’. They become very strict, and every coin must be accounted for. If a cog breaks off somewhere in their well-organised world they react in the most unpredictable manner.

But no. We are not to walk by our own strength nor by depending on the things that we have. In fact, if we have anything we should live as if we don’t have that thing. That is what the Bible says!

Where is the faith of the woman whose floor pot and her jar of oil did not run dry during the famine in Elijah’s days? It is amazing the kind of twisted faith we have today – faith in ourselves!

I have a beautiful piece of land situated right by the lake and I have there a small house that I have been trying to finish building for years but to no avail. I knew I had a problem the day I realized that every time I stepped onto ‘my’ property I would feel a sense of deep satisfaction, even pride. I immediately cried out to God and I am happy to say that today that plot of land and the house mean absolutely nothing to me.

I am not saying we should not be organised or that we should not work or that we should not own property, but I am hardly talking about those things here. I am talking about walking by faith. In fact, for me I would rather live with a person who does not know what his family is going to have for lunch but who is guarding his heart and walking humbly before His God than a person who thinks that he is anything because of what he is or has.

Human pride is so difficult to discern and that is why we should keep awake spiritually so we don’t get tempted like King David was.

Walking by faith is a far greater challenge than many of us think. It is not simply believing God for a healing. It is a life laid at the altar. It is a deliberate denial of self. No self-made man or woman here. That stuff is for the world. In Church we are to trust fully in Christ. There are some worldly people who deride that as laziness. True, there are lazy Christians, but again that is not the subject that I am addressing here.

But no amount of self-initiative or work on my part should make me think that I have anything to boast in. In fact, the more I become ‘successful’ in this world the more humble I become in the realization that it is not I but rather it is God who has made me to be what I am – for His own glory. I shall therefore value and respect my brethren and fellow men all the more.