and when they heard it, they glorified God.
[acts 21:20a]
upon hearing what had been happening among the gentiles, they glorified God. this is what they did, and there are two interesting things they didn’t do. they did glorify God, but they didn’t give paul the glory, and they didn’t get welled up in jealousy.
it’s all to common and all too easy to attribute success to an individual rather than to God. in first corinthians 4 paul asks, what do you have that you did not receive? if then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? paul said this because it’s what we as humans do. we look at elon musk and think what can we do to have success like him. we look at tim keller and ask how we can do fruitful ministry and stay faithful to the end like him. but that is what we must not do! every beautiful thing, every good gift, every occasion for celebration comes from above, and is an opportunity to worship—to give God glory.
we also don’t see them get welled up in jealousy. why is paul having so much success in all these places when here at home we still have so many problems? when jealousy stops us from glorifying God like that, we’re wrongly attributing praiseworthy ministry to easy ministry. in this moment paul shares the beautiful testimony of God’s work, and we can only assume he shared his afflictions in them as well—but shared in a summary even beatings and shipwrecks can sound like something to be jealous of. the struggles of our daily submission to Christ and contending for hearts can either drive us away from thankfulness for Christ in our flesh, or they can draw us nearer to Christ as we remember our desperate need for him as they allow us to experience a glimpse of the great suffering Jesus willingly endured to contend for our hearts. which direction has your heart been going lately when you hear others share good news?
every moment is an opportunity to give God glory. every frustration is a chance to give God glory—by leaning in to him—and every success of yours or others is a chance—to celebrate God’s good work, not attributing it to man or denying it over jealousy.
Lord, help us to rejoice in the success of others and press into your presence in times of trial and want. we desire to give you glory, but we often do not know how. stir in us hearts of worship and joyful submission to you, our King!
~ stephen hall