The Highest Accolade

…therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God… (Hebrews 11:16)

God is proud of you.

That has to be as good as it gets.

That 11th chapter of Hebrews presents a fascinating list of Old Testament believers who did things by faith and ended up pleasing God in the process. It’s an eclectic group and sometimes we find names that stun us. Why in the world is Samson listed there? and Jephthah?

It’s God’s list, not mine. He has His reasons.

What blows me away, though, is the accolade it accords to those who lived and died in faith, without a Bible or the indwelling Holy Spirit or an affirming Christian community, and paid a huge cost for their faithfulness. It’s this group, summarized in Hebrews 11:13-16, that receives this incredible honor: “God is not ashamed to be called their God.”

While inspecting my own life to see what there is which might make God proud, I think of biblical characters who got it right and received the highest praise. Here is my list; you’ll think of others to add.

Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.(Genesis 6:8)

He was a man apart from the rest of the people. When God spoke to him, he heard and believed and obeyed. Even at great cost, he endured the taunting of his neighbors.

One of the most telling insights to Noah’s commitment to the Lord is that after the ark was completed and everyone was aboard, and after the door was sealed, there was no rain. Genesis 7:10 tells us it was seven days before the rains came.

Imagine going into the smelly, closed ark and waiting for a full week before the rains came. Talk about living on faith! One wonders what kind of response this stirred in Mrs. Noah, but we can’t go there since we have no information.

Job was the best man God knew. (Job 1:8 and 2:3)

I can imagine that since this made Job stand out before God–and got him volunteered for the worst test in history!–he could have wished he had been a mite less righteous. But God was so proud of him, He pointed the man out to the devil.

The Lord will not be pointing me out to anyone, I expect. I’m glad and I’m ashamed.

One of the best testimonials to Job’s character comes just before his three friends begin to dis him. They remind him of his past faithfulness and effectiveness. “You have instructed many, and you have strengthened weak hands; your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have strengthened feeble knees.”(Job 4:3-4)

An unbiased testimony from one (Eliphaz) who is about to dump on Job in an effort to convict him of sin. A good man, Job. No one questioned that. God was proud of him. And what’s more, even though Job wavered for a while, the final chapter (ch. 42) makes it clear, the Lord’s judgment of the man was sound. He was indeed a man God could be proud of.

Moses and Samuel were the best intercessors God knew. (Jeremiah 15:1)

The Lord in Heaven was so bound to send the Babylonian judgment upon Judah that He said, “Even if Moses and Samuel were to intercede for you, I still would not be favorable to you.”

The best intercessors. God should have known who all was in that category if anyone did. And he singled out these two.

We see Moses’ intercession in Exodus 32:32 where he tells God, “If you will forgive their sin, then do so. But if you won’t, then blot me out too. Because I’m with them.”

Strong stuff.

As Samuel was moving into the background–he’d just given Israel a new king at the Lord’s instruction but against his own best judgment–he said to the nation, “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you” (I Samuel 12:23).

For the leader of God’s people not to pray for them is to sin against God.

Jesus said John the Baptist was the best ever. (Matthew 11:11)

Among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist.

What made John so great? No doubt our Lord had reasons we are not privy to, but surely the faith of the man was paramount. John’s convictions were so sure, his preaching so unwavering, his prophetic call so dead-on, and his ministry so solid that he prepared the way for the coming of Jesus as no one else could have done.

We could go on like this for a time, no doubt. The Bible says David was a man after God’s own heart, and that Moses spoke with God face to face. For my money, Joseph in the Old Testament shines as brilliantly as any person in the Book. God was proud of them all.

Jesus saw a day coming when people would stand before Him at judgment. He envisioned Himself saying to some, “Come you blessed of the Father. You have been faithful over a few things; I will make you ruler over many. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Enter into the joy of the Lord.” (Matthew 25:21,34)

On another occasion, our Lord warned would-be disciples how it would be:

Whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels. (Mark 8:38)

I love being a father to my three children, and was almost sad when they grew out of childhood. I do miss them at those young ages. On one occasion, my oldest son Neil taught me a lesson on our subject today.

He must have been 5 or 6 years old and had gotten in trouble in some way. I’ve long since forgotten what he did, but I’ve never forgotten what happened next.

He stood before me for the discipline he knew was coming. I said, “Son, daddy is not proud of you any more.”

My little boy teared up in front of me and the tears streamed down his face. I had wounded him more than if I’d whipped him.

God give me a heart that wants nothing in the world so much as to make my Heavenly Father proud of me.

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