God is Everything

Before calling it quits last night from a long day, I completed a book I started reading last week. And, I am glad I did.

I would be curious to hear if the following story speaks to you as it did me.

Many years ago a famous violinist died. Leaving behind no family members, there was no one to whom he could bequeath his Stradivarius. An auction was summarily convened, in part, to sell the instrument. It was eventually purchased by another violinist. He paid twenty thousand dollars for the violin, a sizeable income in its day.

Shortly thereafter the new owner of the Stradivarius announced that he would play a concert on his new violin. When the evening arrived the concert hall was filled to capacity. People were waiting in breathless anticipation. At just the right moment he walked out on the stage with nothing but his violin and he began to play a composition of Paganini. He held his audience spell-bound. His technique was flawless. His tone was exquisite. At the conclusion of the final note, the audience instantaneously jumped to their feet and roared with applause. He bowed, simply, and walked off the stage. A few seconds later, with the applause still thundering, he walked back on stage, took his violin by its neck, raised it over his head and smashed it on a nearby piano bench, shattering it into a thousand pieces. He then walked off the stage. The audience was horrified. They were stunned. A moment later a second man walked out on stage and stood before the people. They became very quiet as he spoke these words: “The violin on which the maestro has just performed his first selection, the same violin that he has just destroyed, was but a twenty dollar violin. He will now perform the rest of the concert on the twenty-thousand dollar Stradivarius.”

What was the point he was attempting to make? The genius is never in the violin. It is always in the violinist. And the same is true for the preacher, teacher, soloist, musician, VBS worker, etc. At best, he is but a twenty dollar violin. But music can be heard when he is taken up in the hands of the Heavenly Violinist.

We do not worship the rod of Moses, the trumpet of Gideon, or the slingshot of David. Such would be grievous expressions of misdirected worship. But such is also the case when the preacher rests his confidence in the power of his own abilities. “What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one” (1 Corinthians 3:5). The man is nothing. God is everything.[1]

A few pages earlier Azurdia quotes Spurgeon’s thoughts about the preacher and his preaching of the gospel:

The gospel is preached in the ears of all; it only comes with power to some. The power that is in the gospel does not lie in the eloquence of the preacher; otherwise men would be converters of souls. Nor does it line the preacher’s learning; otherwise it would consist in the wisdom of men. We might preach till our tongues rotted, till we should exhaust our lungs and die, but never a soul would be converted unless there were mysterious power going with it—the Holy Ghost changing the will of man. O Sirs! we might as well preach to stone walls as to preach to humanity unless the Holy Ghost be with the word, to give it power to convert the soul.

Here is my take on the abovementioned story and quote. Whether you are a preacher or a teacher, a musician or a soloist, a sound tech or a media tech, a Bible study teacher or a Vacation Bible School leader, you are nothing and God is everything. God will have no competitors. You cannot simultaneously glorify yourself while you glorify God. God will only use you when you recognize you are only an instrument of righteousness in His hands. The instrument is not what is valuable. The value is found by what the instrument produces in the hands of Almighty God.

[1] Arturo G. Azurdia, III, Spirit Empowered Preaching: Involving the Holy Spirit in Your Ministry (Mentor Imprint, Great Britain), pp. 146 – 147.

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