Generally, when people say this they mean it as a compliment, which is nice. And we struggle for a way to communicate our gratitude for the compliment without our brains exploding with the affront to the Gospel that these statements communicate. It is difficult to say “Thank You” when this is absolutely all wrong and we want to be as clear as possible that it is JESUS and Jesus ALONE that makes us right before God.
A missionary named Paul, who was a man blameless according to the law, said the following when reflecting on his “good works”:
Paul forfeited all of his hope in himself and in his laundry list of good works and counted them as garbage. Why? So that he could receive real righteousness: Righteousness from outside of him—the very righteousness of Jesus. And this righteousness only comes when we renounce hope in ourselves.
So What Now?
The Bottom Line
Missionaries (or aspiring missionaries for that matter) need a Savior. Missionaries sin on the mission field and need a High Priest to intercede for them on their behalves. People that adopt kids regularly sin against the kids that they adopt. This is the bond between Christians—in whatever capacity we serve the Lord, we all do it imperfectly and all hope in Jesus and not in ourselves. Whatever our vocation or ministry, Jesus is our righteousness.
In any way You choose
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You”