Genesis 11:4– Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”
God calls all of us to take His image to all parts of the earth so his glory and name will be known. In Genesis 11, the people settle in the plain of Shinar, and we see the reason why – they want to make a name for themselves. The people in Genesis 11 flagrantly disobey God seeking to do the exact opposite of His command. The flagrant disobedience should not surprise us. It is the same flagrant disobedience we see in Genesis 3, and it is the same flagrant disobedience we see in our own hearts. God calls us to make His name known and instead we want to make our name known.
The sinful trap of becoming great or being famous comes from the heart of the world. Our world and culture create a system where people are valuable because of what they can do. Even in Genesis 11, they want to make a name for themselves by building a tower all the world can see. The more you do for all to see, the more famous you become.
Notoriety is seen in both positive in negative ways. People become well known because of their athletic ability, their acting ability, their political systems, their talent to sing, and so much more. All of this is about what they can do. They are deemed valuable because they have a product others esteem. On the other hand, our culture also makes people famous who produces evil. Think about the songs, TV shows and movies that propagate violence, hatred, licentious behavior and more evil. Our culture esteems them as great. But let’s not stop there. Our culture also notarizes people who commit heinous criminal acts. Mass shootings and murderers gain fame as our world publicizes their behavior and every move. The desire to be known is a hallmark trait of our sinful hearts.
Is it sinful to be famous? No. Is it bad for people to know who you are? No. It becomes sinful when your heart yearns to be known by the world more than it yearns to be known by God. It is sinful when your heart wants to make much of yourself and not God. It is sinful when you want people to see you more than you want them to see the glory of God.
The desire to be known does not stay confined to the areas of entertainment and sports. We all struggle with the sinful desire for people to see and notice us. We all struggle with the trap of wanting to make a name for ourselves. We all struggle with wanting to leave a mark with our life so people will remember us. It can even be seen in ministry. We compare ourselves to other people and seek to prove ourselves to them. We want to be noticed. It is far too easy for us to “work” for the Kingdom of God and for that work to turn into an opportunity for us to receive the glory. Many times we serve because we want people to recognize us and celebrate what we have done. When in reality, the only reason we should serve God is so that people can see Him and Him alone.
As Ecclesiastes reminds us, making a name for yourself in VANITY. Revealing the glory of God to the ends of the earth is eternal.
Do you find yourself working tirelessly to prove your worth and value? You are already worthy and valuable because you are made in the image of God.
Do you find yourself serving to receive “a pat on the back”? Your greatest encouragement is for people to see Jesus not you.
Do you find yourself chasing after the dream the world has placed before you? Chasing after the world is vanity. Chasing after God is eternal!