“….Notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman….”
King James Version
“It Doesn’t Matter Who Gets The Credit”
“In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.”
Has there been a time in my life when someone else took credit for something I did?
How did this make me feel?
“Do something for somebody every day for which you do not get paid.”
“Blessed are those who can give without remembering and take without forgetting.”
I can still remember the day and the place. I was sitting in a committee meeting and was, I thought, going to make a presentation about a project I had worked on, long and hard. When to my utter surprise, an individual in a position above me, began to speak and shared the idea as though it were his own. It hurt. In fact, it angered me! I wanted to defend myself. Wouldn’t we all? None of us like others taking credit for our labor. We all want to hear, “Job well done.”
And why not? In a world where getting affirmation for work and talent often translates into a bigger paycheck or a job promotion, we all, at times have the attitude, “What’s in this for me?”
In our text today, we find that after Barak informed Deborah he wouldn’t go up against Sisera without her at his side, Deborah had a piece of news for him. She told him the “honour,” or as the Hebrew states, “the glory,” of the victory would not be showered on him. In other words, Barak would not get the praise or credit for the victory. Believe it or not, the credit wouldn’t go to any man – it would go to a woman! Oh, my!
Now some theological scholars I’ve read, believe that the “credit” was taken away from Barak because he showed so little faith by telling Deborah she needed to come along on the journey to battle their enemy, Sisera.
To be honest, I don’t agree with this perspective because it would mean that having a woman come with you was demeaning not only to Barak but for God’s plan. And since God had, Himself, called Deborah, and she had followed His steps as a “Judge” of Israel, the idea that her presence would in any way lower the esteem of Barak seems unreasonable. I believe that in the joint effort between Barak and Deborah, God has left us with His master plan for how His children, men and women, can work side-by-side, each using their respective talents, to accomplish God’s work – especially when it means going up against Sisera. Why leave half the team behind when God calls all of us!!
And this brings us to our lesson today from the life of Barak.
When Deborah let Barak know that the praise for deliverance would be given to another, not to him, I can just hear myself saying, “Well, if I don’t get credit for the work, I’m not doing it.” I’ve done that before, I’m sad to admit! But this isn’t what Barak did. Instead, Barak confronted Sisera. Obviously, Barak understood that doing God’s will was more important than getting the accolades for the job. Barak wasn’t focused on praise for himself, he was focused on peace in the land for all of God’s children. His personal glory meant nothing compared to following the guiding hand of God.
I admire Barak greatly. Doesn’t it inspire you, as a woman, to see one of God’s sons doing God’s will no matter who got credit, even when it was a woman. And for all of God’s sons who come to the garden, what a testimony is given by the life of Barak who was able to see that following God’s plan included working together in harmony with God’s daughters.
Roy M. Pearson wrote in Here’s A Faith For You, that “being humble involves the willingness to be reckoned a failure in everyone’s sight but Gods.” When I read this, my mind immediately went to someone in the New Testament whom I admire so much. It is Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist. Called to be the forerunner of Jesus, the messenger of the soon coming Messiah, John lived a harsh and solitary desert life. Preaching, as he did in the wilderness, after the baptism of Jesus, John was confronted by some of his own followers about the identity of Jesus and His ministry. It would have been easy for John to build himself up in the eyes of everyone by saying what a bigshot he was, getting to announce Jesus’ arrival. He could have taken credit for baptizing Jesus. He could have used his position and relationship with Jesus to exert power. But he didn’t! Instead, in John 3: 30, we find these words which reveal the kind of person John was – a person more interested in service than in status. These were John’s words: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” I like the way The Message Bible paraphrases John 3: 30, “This is His (Jesus) assigned moment for Him to move into the center, while I (John) slip off to the sidelines.” No, “Give me all the glory!” No, “I want the credit I’m due!” Not from John the Baptist and not from Barak the Warrior. Both these men didn’t care who got the credit – just so the battle was won.
I want to paraphrase a quote by George B. Cheever. “As you and I go down in self, we go up in God.”
I love these words, spoken by the great evangelist Billy Graham who gave a lifetime of service lifting up others while often denying the credit he, himself, deserved: “The most eloquent prayer is the prayer through hands that heal and bless. The highest form of worship is the worship of unselfish Christian service. The greatest form of praise is the sound of consecrated feet seeking out the lost and helpless.” No concern here for who gets the credit, only for a heart that cares and a life dedicated in service for God.
“We must not hope to be mowers,
And to gather the ripe old ears,
Unless we have first been sowers
And watered the furrows with our tears.
It is not just as we take it,
This mystical world of ours,
Life’s field will yield as we make it,
A harvest of thorns or of flowers.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“O Father, give us the humility which
Realizes its ignorance,
Admits its mistakes,
Recognizes its need,
Help us always
To praise rather than to criticize,
To sympathize rather than to condemn
To encourage rather than to discourage,
To build rather than to destroy,
And to think of people at their best rather than at their worst.
This we ask for thy name’s sake.”
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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