Think back over yesterday. During the hours when you were awake, how many times did you do something or say something in order to be recognized or applauded? If we’re honest with ourselves, the number is probably higher than we want to admit, because embedded in our sinful nature is the desire for that which should only be given to God: glory. And because glory should only be given to God, seeking to get it for ourselves is a much bigger deal than we realize when we receive praise for something without acknowledging God.
The seriousness of this kind of neglect is seen in Acts 12. Here, the people of Tyre and Sidon, after listening to a speech given by King Herod, cry out in loud voices, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” The next verse is striking. We are told that an angel of the Lord strikes down King Herod “because he did not give God the glory”. At this point, the text says that he was eaten by worms and died. God did not kill the people of Tyre and Sidon for the active sin of praising Herod instead of Him. Rather, he killed Herod for the passive sin of neglecting to give the glory to God. The text doesn’t say that Herod stood up from his throne and led the people in chanting his name and pumping their fists, “HER-OD KING! HER-OD KING!” No, instead, it tells us that his failure to point the glory away from himself to God is what led to his demise. And I believe that God sent worms to eat Herod to communicate to us how severe this sin was. What’s the lesson here? You don’t have to showboat your talent or loudly proclaim your greatness to be guilty of pride and self-worship. All you have to do is not give the glory to God. Glory should always be reflected, not absorbed.
In order to help us keep things in perspective and fight our desire for glory, let’s look to the book of Revelation. In John’s vision of the end times he writes, “And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” When you are tempted to absorb recognition and applause think of this: any glory you receive in this life will only be swallowed up in the end by the infinite glory of God and the worship he will receive for who he is and what he’s done. Any glory you get for yourself now will be like the stars in the sky when the sun rises in the morning. At night the stars are visible, but as soon as the sun breaks over the horizon, the stars are completely consumed by the resplendent brightness of the sun. Let the truth of this contrast help you fight for the only glory that will matter in the end.