Blessed Diminishment

You will not find her name listed in the Biblical table of contents. She does not appear in the “Hebrews Hall of Faith.”[1] And yet the fragrance of her influence is everywhere; emanating from an obscure Old Testament name—Barak.

Weak, fearful, trembling Barak, who declared, “unless you go with me, I will not go.”

So why would New Testament writers inscribe his name and not hers?[2] Had not she the better part of honor? How utterly strange it all seems.

How utterly Christ-like.

What strikes me most about Deborah is her humility, her ministry of diminishment. That she would be so mightily used and so little praised is a powerful lesson to my proud heart. She laid aside her pride to walk with a man who led an army[3], and afterward she took up a song in celebration of the God of them all. She did not stop to debate who had actually led the defense or who deserved the glory; rather, she honored the One who had given the victory in their trembling hands, and she praised Him for using her to do it.

But that’s the carpentry of the Kingdom, isn’t it? A nail-scarred Architect[4] and His ragtag band of broken-but-redeemed instruments.[5] And in the construction of that Hebrews Hall, God took up the pen of Deborah’s faith, engraving Barak’s name upon the wall, and a lesson for us all.

Lucifer declared his primacy[6] and the disciples desired prestige[7] but the greatest of the Kingdom simply kneels, breathing out his quiet plea, “I must decrease; He must increase.”[8]

Yes Lord, even so may it be in our lives, this ministry of blessed diminishment.

[1] See Hebrews 11

[2] Hebrews 11:32

[3] Judges 4:9-10

[4] 1 Peter 2:4-8

[5] Ephesians 2:20-22

[6] Isaiah 14:13-14

[7] Matthew 20:20-28

[8] Matthew 11:11; John 3:30


2 thoughts on “Blessed Diminishment

  1. i’ve thought somewhat along those same lines before although not in the context of Deborah nor quite so eloquently.

    I think we all like to be praised and encouraged. Sometimes we blur the words “praise” and “encourage” as we use those words quite often in today’s culture. Encouragement is to be spurred on or confirmed. Praise is to be lifted up or exalted. There is a difference. I speak (or write in this case) for myself and think probably for many others in that encouragement is a desire so that we can be confirmed in the path travelled. But, I think there is some amount of desire for praise also. Sometimes it is genuine and the praise we receive will be deferred straight to God who is receiver of all praise. However, in many cases, the praise stops and the individual and they “bask in the glory” of it, even unwittingly.

    So, when there are the times that I want the “encouragement” but don’t receive it, I have to wonder if it really wasn’t “praise” as my desire. And therefore, in not receiving it, there was the avoidance of a temptation I may not have been able to bear.

    Also, as I read Judges 4 to get the background of the post, I noticed Jael. She is the one who actually killed Sisera. How many times I have remembered the story of some woman driving a tent peg through some leader’s head. (Not that there are any psychopathic thought tendencies there!) I didn’t remember her, but rather her deed in delivering Israel. …..Or did she? Ultimately it was all at the hand of God.

  2. “Encouragement is to be spurred on or confirmed. Praise is to be lifted up or exalted. There is a difference.”

    Wow. Now THERE is food for few days’ thought! I love the distinction you drew there. And it works both ways: I need to stop and check my motivation before I offer a bit of encouragement (or is it flattery?)

    Great. Now you have “spurred me on” to a deeper line of thinking. :o)

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