In Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcey, the romantic interest of main character Elizabeth Bennet, says, “Nothing is more deceitful than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast.” As Christ followers, we are to have true humility. It is all too easy for us to publicly rejoice in an accomplishment as the Lord’s work, while subtly claiming most of the credit for ourselves.
In today’s passage, Jesus sent out the apostles with His power, and they were successful in casting out demons and healing the sick. But somewhere between their commissioning and their return to Jesus they began to take credit for this work, thinking their own power had accomplished the tasks. The feeding of the 5,000 taught them to think otherwise. In what Mark calls “a quiet place” (v. 31), “a solitary place” (v. 32), and “a remote place” (v. 35), the disciples found themselves in a dilemma. How would they feed the 5,000?
Quickly they learned that Jesus did not need to send the people away or run to the market. Jesus had the ability to shepherd the people with compassionate care, no matter how big or how small their need was. In His power, there was enough to feed all the men, women, and children present and have twelve baskets full of leftover food! Unlike the disciples, Jesus’ power was more than sufficient.
The Lord provides desolate times of ministry to remind us that our power to serve comes from Him alone. Dry periods of devotions, a sense of staleness in worship, or the departure of ministry partners remove any thoughts of the sufficiency of our own strength to do His will. He deserves every ounce of credit for any accomplishment and we should ascribe all power to Him.
Godly servants are marked by humility. Look at your recent accomplishments that have brought you joy. Go back one by one and declare to the Lord, “You alone accomplished this; keep your servant from taking any credit for this and all other successes.” Attributing all we do to the grace of God helps us to be sober about our own power.