For many years, I’ve lived according to Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that it is from the Lord that you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”
After twenty-six years as a teacher-at-home, teaching: reading, spelling, math, science, and many other subjects; my teaching career came to an end in 2019. So I have been pondering an Audience of One anew – What does it mean to live for Christ in this season?
Webster’s 1828 defines audience as the act of hearing and as an assembly of hearers. Urban dictionary defines audience as focusing our performance – what we do, say, think….or not, so as to be acceptable to one person, individual or deity. The Urban dictionary states, “Early Christians like the Apostle Paul who would rather face death than compromise their core beliefs, lived their lives for an audience of one.”
“God is concerned with what, why, and how of our daily efforts.” ~Tim Kight
Tim Kight says, “The Christian who walks with Jesus is able to maximize his performance and productivity because his mind is not distracted by the fear of performing below expectations or distorted by the desire to boost ego. All of his focus and energy go into doing his job. He is motivated to serve God and others, not to avoid criticism or achieve recognition. God is concerned with what, why, and how of our daily efforts:
- What = the actual work we do.
- Why = the motives for our work.
- How = the methods of our work.
Even though we have an earthly boss, the reality is that we work for the Audience of One. Even if we are the boss, we work for the Audience of One. The work we do is ultimately for God.”
At the end of 2020, we will end two years of volunteer service to our local HOA (Home Owners Association). Being a Curb Inspector has been an eye opening experience! If you are familiar with the 1958 movie, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness and Ingrid Bergman’s role as foot inspector, then you will have a small glimpse into our volunteer role the past two years.
Yet all the acts of service as a curb inspector can be laid as love gifts at God’s feet. Being consistently criticized as a volunteer who is doing an act of service for the community has been a humbling experience. Yet, He has sustained us, given us peace and we know that we can trust the One that rewards us. And “the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” and He causes all criticisms to fall to the ground because we are not seeking man’s approval, but our Audience of One’s approval.
To live before the Audience of One is a life-altering decision and a life-long journey.
We then ask, “Who is our audience?” Frank Erb answers, “Our Father who sees in Secret.’ Citing Matthew 6:4, ‘Your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.’ Whose reward do you want? You can practice your faith to impress people or to impress God. The key, then, is to always serve God ‘in such a way’ as to deflect attention away from ourselves and direct all the glory to God. Though it is not always easy to do, God judges our inner motives and intent with regard to this.”
“Most of us, whether we are aware of it or not, do things with an eye to the approval of some audience or other. The question is not whether we have an audience but what audience we have. God announces, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before Me and be blameless.’ Behind the voice of God is the eye of God and behind the eye the face and behind the face the heart. To follow the Call of God is therefore to live before the heart of God.” (Guinness)
Guinness says, “We who live before the Audience of One can say to the world: I have only one audience. Before You, I have nothing to prove, nothing to gain, nothing to lose.”
“When we see ourselves as instruments in the hands of the Master, it helps us focus our attention on pleasing Him.” (Summit)
“Jackie Pullinger became a legend because of her amazing work with drug addicts in Hong Kong. RT Kendall was intrigued by her statement in [Premier Christianity] magazine in 2019: ‘This is a very short life. And eternal life is forever. We’re going to feel stupid for eternity if we wasted this one.”
“Kendall knows what she means by that. Granted, God will wipe away all tears from our eyes and we will have no pain in heaven (Revelation 21:4). But if we have lived our lives addicted to approval, we will feel dreadful when we stand before Jesus Christ at His judgement seat. The best remedy I can think of – difficult though this can be – is to live as if God alone is watching and listening. That is what Jesus did.”
“Live as if God alone is watching and listening. That is what Jesus did.” ~RT Kendall
Charles Thomas Studd, a missionary to China, then later to Africa wrote eight stanzas to Only One Life. His words are so powerful! Here are his last three stanzas:
Give me Father, a purpose deep, In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep; Faithful and true what e’er the strife, Pleasing Thee in my daily life; Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Oh let my love with fervor burn, And from the world now let me turn; Living for Thee, and Thee alone, Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne; Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, yes only one, Now let me say, ”Thy will be done”; And when at last I’ll hear the call, I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”; Only one life,’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.
“Only One life, ‘twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” ~CT Studd
For many years, I kept the following Ronald Reagan quote on our refrigerator, now it’s on our bookshelf. And yes, I’ve been known to send it to our children for encouragement. And in full disclosure, I did send it to an irate HOA member who was verbally attacking me via email because I thought it would help him process his Curb Inspection warning.
“The character that takes command in moments of crucial choices has already been determined by a thousand other choices made earlier in seemingly unimportant moments. It has been determined by all the ‘little’ choices of years past – by those times when the voice of conscience was at war with the voice of temptation, [which was] whispering the lie that ‘it really doesn’t matter.’ It has been determined by all the day to day decisions made when life seemed easy and crises far away – the decisions that, piece by piece, bit by bit developed habits of discipline or of laziness; habits of self-sacrifice or self-indulgence; habits of duty and honor and integrity – or dishonor and shame.” ~Ronald Reagan
Whether a missionary or a teacher; a businessman or a stay-at-home mom; a single person, married or widowed; childless or with a house full of little ones; employee or entrepreneur; whatever season we find ourselves in today, we can choose Christ. We can choose to live a surrendered life. We can choose to live before the Audience of One – God Alone. This is a life-altering decision that is a life-long journey. We want to live for Christ in every season. Let’s persevere in serving Him who is Faithful and True.
Lord, we desire to live before You, our Audience of One, in wholehearted devotion. So deliver us from being double-minded and “teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.” And fill us afresh with Your Holy Spirit, empowering us to “live and move and have our being” in You all the days of our lives. Thank You for hearing the cry of our hearts, making us new creations, making us co-heirs with Christ and transforming us into Your likeness. Amen.
Colossians 3:23-24; Philippians 4:7; Matthew 6:4; Psalm 90:12; Acts 17:28; Romans 8:17; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 2 Corinthians 3:18.
Kight, Tim. Audience of One – A Devotional. www.acalltoexcellence.com, August 20, 2018. Retrieved December 9, 2020, from https://www.acalltoexcellence.com/audience-of-one-1
The Inn of the Sixth Happiness. Director Mark Robson, Writer Alan Burgess, Producer Buddy Adler, 20th Century Fox, 1958.
Erb, Frank. Live For An Audience of One. www.capitolcom.org, March 21, 2011. Retrieved December 9, 2020, from https://www.capitolcom.org/california/studies/500/2011/03/21/matthew-6-live-for-an-audience-of-one
Guinness, Os. The Audience of One – excerpt from “The Call” www.cru.org, 2010. Retrieved December 9, 2020, from https://www.cru.org/us/en/train-and-grow/spiritual-growth/the-audience-of-one.html
Kendall, RT. An Audience of One: RT Kendall on How to Live for God’s Approval. www.premierchristianity.com, March 2020. Retrieved December 9, 2020, from https://www.premierchristianity.com/Past-Issues/2020/March-2020/An-audience-of-one-RT-Kendall-on-how-to-live-for-God-s-approval
An Audience of One – Summit Life Today. www.summitlife.org, September 14, 2015. Retrieved December 9, 2020, from https://summitlife.org/an-audience-of-one-summitlife-today-september-14-2015/
New American Standard Bible, Copyright 1960, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
The ESV Bible, copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission.