By Jared Kirk
Jeremiah did not write the book of Jeremiah. At least the second part of the book.
The words come from Jeremiah, but they were dictated to a scribe named Baruch who recorded all the words of Jeremiah's prophecies. Baruch doesn't get much play in sermons, but he does have an entire chapter of the Bible dedicated to him: Jeremiah 45. And his life holds a powerful lesson for those who have been blessed with a good education, a good job, wealth, or influence. Miss this lesson, and you miss the most important thing in life.
Baruch was educated. As a scribe, he was a societal elite. In ancient Jerusalem, he was a "one-percenter" (or at least a "ten-percenter"). And he was a godly man. He used his considerable training to help Jeremiah spread the words of God to the leaders and people alike.
But when Jeremiah prophesied disaster for Jerusalem, Baruch is recorded as saying, "Woe is me! For the Lord has added sorrow to my pain. I am weary with my groaning, and I find no rest." He is bent down with sorrow because of the words of the Lord proclaimed against Jerusalem. Nothing wrong there. Certainly nothing that you or I could detect that is out of order.
But God has a strange reply to Baruch, "Behold, what I have built I am breaking down, and what I have planted I am plucking up—that is, the whole land. And do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not, for behold, I am bringing disaster upon all flesh, declares the Lord. But I will give you your life as a prize of war in all places to which you may go." (Jeremiah 45:4-6)
Apparently, Baruch's sorrow was not just for the fall of Jerusalem, but for the fall of Baruch! Where we see only words, God sees the heart and something is amiss. Baruch's considerable education and training positioned him to prosper if Jerusalem should prosper. And he mourns the loss of his own position and status should God's word come to pass. He is seeking great things for himself rather than seeking for God to be most glorified. And it is God who uncovers the mixed motives.
For those blessed with good education, or good jobs, or out-sized influence in society there is a special temptation to seek God's glory as long as our plans and dreams are not marginalized in the process. To you God's words still ring out:
Do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not.
To see God glorified you cannot ultimately seek great things for yourself. You must seek great things for his name and say, "Come what may..."
Jared Kirk is the founder and lead pastor of Renewal Church.