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More about Him, Less about Us

My soul exalts the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has had regard for the humble state of His
For behold, from this time on all generations will
count me blessed.
For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
And holy is His name.
And His mercy is upon generation after
Toward those who fear Him.

He has done mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered those who were proud in the
thoughts of their heart.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
And has exalted those who were humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things;
And sent away the rich empty-handed.
imgHe has given help to Israel His servant,
In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and his descendants forever.

—Luke 1:46–55

Such is the extent of our natural self-centeredness that even our praise to God betrays a focus on self. In her Magnificat, Mary sets a better example.


Mary had good reason to magnify the Lord. She had been promised a son—not just any son, but the Son of God, conceived by the spirit of the Most High God. Her Magnificat is a song of gospel joy. Yet in it Mary says nothing specific about her son. This is the reason for her praise, but she does not mention it explicitly. Why not?

The answer is that Mary had the godliness to look beyond her gift and praise the God who gave it. To magnify means to enlarge, and what Mary wanted to enlarge was her vision of God. Her goal was to show his greatness. She wanted to magnify God, not her own position as the mother of the Son of God. She knew that she was blessed because of who God was, not because of who she was. Therefore, she wanted God to be seen to be great, not herself. The way to show this was not by thinking only about what God was doing in her life, but by enlarging her vision to see the majesty of God.

. . .

It is right for us to praise God for what he has done, as Mary did. But sometimes even our worship of God can be somewhat self-centered, as if the really important thing is what God has done for us. We need to look beyond this to see God as he is in himself, and to praise him for being God. Then, when we speak about what God has done for us—as we should—it will be more about him and less about us.

—Philip Ryken, The Incarnation in the Gospels (P&R Publishing, 2008), 74–75.

Posted 2013·12·10 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Christmas · Gospel of Luke · Idolatry · Philip Ryken · Prayer · The Incarnation in the Gospels

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