Talk About Carey’s Savior |

Varanasi, India
Credit: Srivatsan Balaji,

By Dr. Michael Brown

William Carey (1761–1834) began his career as an uneducated shoemaker in England. At the end of his life, he was living in India, hailed as “the father of modern missions,” serving also as a professor of Oriental languages at Fort William College in Calcutta. He was almost entirely self-taught. His accomplishments were almost inconceivable, but for Carey, they were just a way of life. His motto was, “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.”

In describing his own life mission, Carey said, “My business is to witness for Christ. I make shoes just to pay my expenses.”

As for his staggering achievements, as reported on the Britannica website, Carey was

called the ‘father of Bengali prose’ for his grammars, dictionaries, and translations.” He “translated the Bible into Bengali, Oriya, Marathi, Hindi, Assamese, and Sanskrit. He also translated parts of it into 29 other languages and dialects.”

(If you’ve ever tried to master a foreign language, chew on that for a while.)


His social work extended beyond education to urge the government to outlaw such practices as infanticide and suttee (in which Hindu widows immolated themselves on their husbands’ funeral pyres). He also encouraged the use of Indians as missionaries and led in the formation of the Agricultural Society of India in 1820.

Not surprisingly, Carey was regarded as a legendary figure, a man who towered above normal men. But rather than this flattering him, it disturbed him deeply. And so he said to his colleagues and admirers, “You have been speaking about William Carey. When I am gone, say nothing about William Carey. Speak only about Willam Carey’s Saviour.”

Only One Worthy

This echoes what Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “So then, no more boasting about human leaders!” (1 Corinthians 3:21). Instead, quoting the Lord’s words through Jeremiah, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:31).

May that be our boast as well. Only Jesus receives the praise.

Once, a couple who went to hear one of the great British preachers speak during the Charles Spurgeon era. As they left the service, the husband was heard remarking, “What a sermon!”

That night, the same couple decided to hear Spurgeon preach. As they left the service, the husband was heard saying, “What a Savior!”

This hits the nail on the head. This reflects what is important to the Lord and what should be important to us. No more boasting, people! Instead, let’s boast about the Savior and point all people to the Him so that, when we’re gone, rather than everyone talking about how great we were, they’ll be talking about how great He is.

Of course, it is right to show honor to those who deserve it. The Bible is very clear about that too. And it’s good to be remembered positively when we’re gone. That’s beautiful and meaningful and also something affirmed in the Scriptures. I certainly hope that will be the case with me.

But there is a praise, adoration, and honor that belongs to the Lord alone, and in that sense, He will share His glory with no one. That kind of talk is appropriate for the Savior only, not for the saved.

The Weight of Worship

Consequently, not only do we dishonor God when we over-exalt people, but we do those people a disservice as well. For one thing, it making it easier for them to fall into pride, and therefore easier to fall into sin. But it also puts a burden on them that no human has ever been designed to carry. We were made to give worship, not to receive it. We are transmitters only. When we receive others’ worship, it actually destroys us.

George Whitefield (1714–1770) was one of the greatest preachers in Church history, used mightily by God in England and America in the days of the First Great Awakening. He, too, became a legend while still alive, even as a young man. And like Carey, rather than flattering him, this grieved him.

And so he said, “I am content to wait till the judgment day for the clearing up of my character. When I am dead I desire no epitaph but this, ‘Here lies G.W. What kind of man he was the great day will discover.’”

This, too, echoes Paul’s words to those same Corinthians, when he wrote,

I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God. (1 Corinthians 4:3–5)

Truth be told, though, many of us want the praise of people and make our decisions based on what others think. Many of us are even like the religious hypocrites whom Jesus rebuked, saying

Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long [thereby carrying out requirements of Jewish law and tradition in an exaggerated, public way]; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.” (Matthew 23:5–7)

Does that describe you or me? Do we live for human praise, for the accolades of fellow mortals? Do we want people to exalt us as if we were some kind of superstar? Do we want all eyes on us? Careful!

We do well to learn from men like Carey and Whitefield and Paul, leaving the final judgment to God and deflecting all praise and adoration to Him.

Better that people are in awe of our Savior than in awe of us.

He will never disappoint. We most certainly will.


Dr. Michael Brown ( is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Why So Many Christians Have Left the Faith. Connect with him on FacebookTwitter or YouTube.

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