“And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.” (Acts 12:22–23, AV)
I do not think that I am the only one who does this. I often am tempted to revel in people’s praise and adoration. I guess, like a little puppy, we like our strokes. There is a fine line that exists between graciously accepting positive affirmation and stealing the glory from God. How do I know when I am struggling with this problem? It is when after preaching one message where I will receive positive affirmation and rejoice, and then after preaching another when only few will give affirmation and I get discouraged. This is when I need personal reflection. Why, when both sermons were true according to the Scripture, did I have such an emotional swing from one to the other?
The problem is that we all struggle with pride and this is a dangerous pastime. We like to glory in our own accomplishments. The peril of this is that we fail to give God the glory that only He is due. In this short section regarding the death of Herod the king, we see this particular problem.
Now, Herod the king was an evil person, by anyone’s evaluation. He had James the brother of John killed and determined to do the same with Peter. After an angel of the Lord orchestrated Peter’s escape from prison, Herod ordered the guards executed who were in charge of detaining Peter.
Here, Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon. The people wanted to make peace with Herod for they depended on food from Herod’s country. Herod then sat upon the throne and delivered a speech to the people. The people began responding to Herod’s speech by shouting, “It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.” Herod did not cease the crowd or correct them, but rather accepted their acclamation. The Scripture tells us that because Herod did not give God the glory, an angel of the Lord stuck him down. It is a real dangerous thing to fail to give God the glory.
Giving God the glory is an issue of the heart. We can say one thing with our lips, but hold a different attitude in our hearts. We need to keep ourselves in a continual state of worship before our infinitely Holy God. This is because that we cannot truly worship and steal the glory from God at the same time. I can speak to this problem, because it is one in which I personally struggle. I guess, knowing there is a problem is half-the battle.
In churches, it is a serious threat to personal and church health. The issue is most evident in our successes, when we have a great temptation to say, “Look at what we have done,” or “Look what I have done.” We need to do our best to remember that our flesh loves praise and adoration. We love to be lifted up. in those times when we receive the adoration and praise of people, we do need to be gracious in how we shift the glory to God. We must express our gratitude for the positive feedback, but we must make sure we direct the praise to God.
Moreover, we must not let others praise get to our heads. When we receive praise and adoration, we must remember how vulnerable we are to stealing the glory from God. We need to spend considerable time in prayer and reflection upon how awesome God really is and how He is the one who makes all things possible. We must do this so as to guard our hearts from the wickedness of pride and self-glorification.