and when the crowds saw what paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in lycaonian, “the gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” barnabas they called zeus, and paul, hermes, because he was the chief speaker. and the priest of zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. [acts 14:11-13]
this passage reflects a truth that has been displayed since the fall of man. a truth that we still see now in our context, in our culture, and in our everyday lives. the world refuses to give glory where glory is due.
the great lie, in the garden, was that adam and eve could be glorious like the Creator. in their lust for greatness, they believed the lie that they could be their own god. satan, the father of lies, was crafty in his deceit, making the temptation subtle, alluring, and of course, devoid of any negative consequences. and as the fruit from that tree was eaten, all of mankind was set on this trajectory of a daily glory war.
here in acts, the world refuses to give God the glory for healing a crippled man. they cling to their tales of greek mythology instead of receiving the truth being displayed before their eyes. the same tempter, the same father of lies, is at work in this crowd and succeeding in his glory-stealing task.
but he does not always succeed. we see a contrasting response in matthew 9, when Jesus heals a paralytic.
and behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. and when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” and behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “this man is blaspheming.” but Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “why do you think evil in your hearts? for which is easier, to say, ‘your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘rise and walk’? but that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“rise, pick up your bed and go home.” and he rose and went home. when the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men. [matt 9:2-8]
we can see the tempter at work. stirring jealousy in the hearts of the leaders, there are mutters of unbelief. but the end result is the crowd giving glory to God for the mighty work he has displayed.
there is a glory war going on all around us. God’s truth on display, the tempter trying to disguise it as something else, giving all kinds of options to explain it away, and a world who takes the road of unbelief. giving credit to science, random chance, false gods, luck, people, hard work, and countless other things.
so to evaluate our place in this war, we have to ask ourselves two questions:
1) am i giving God the glory due his name?
this is evaluated through the evidence of our time, energy, money and resources, our family activities, our schedules, our thoughts, reactions toward others. is there any pride, covetousness, control, comfort, unconfessed sin, or even a good thing that has taken too high a place in our lives where God is to reign supreme?
2) am i proclaiming God’s glory due his name?
is God’s glory on my lips? do others in my home know that i am in awe of him? do those around me at work know that i fear him? do my neighbors know that i serve him? do i give him credit for my successes? am i joining in with the world in any way, explaining away God’s glory and placing it elsewhere? or am i just silent?
Father, show us your glory, please! may we stand in awe of your mighty hand, and in fear of your holy name. may we be people who proclaim your glory, and may the world around us come to know your goodness and confess Jesus as Lord! amen.
~ arwen eastman