Luke tells us a story in chapter 12 of Acts about Herod’s death. Its retelling goes something like this: Herod was angry with most of the people around him, but he was pretty self-involved. His prize prisoner, Peter, had just escaped and Herod was dejected. He retreated to his seaside home in Caesarea to lick his wounds. A group of protesters from neighboring countries congregated at his doorstep with picket signs, loudspeakers…the works. One morning Herod put on his robe, which happened to be made of woven silver, and walked out on his balcony to address the crowd. The sun caught his robe at just the right angle. Herod’s robe glistened and so did his ego. I can imagine his speech started with “Look at me” and ended with “I am so pretty!” The picketers had an agenda and when they heard Herod speak they saw an opportunity to get their way. Instead of shouting “Liar!” and “Thief!” at him they shouted “The voice of a god and not of a man!” The shimmering leader did not correct his picketers and God immediately struck him down. The Bible says the shining king was eaten by worms.
Why would I tell you a gruesome story like this? Better yet, why would Luke include such a depressing story in his narrative of the early Church and its wildfire like spread? Because there is only ONE King who gets glory in this book and there is only ONE Kingdom that advances. Right after Luke tells us about Herod’s worms he tells us this, “But the Word of God increased and multiplied.” That always has been and always will be the focus of the Kingdom of God and those who come under His rule.
It is easy for us to forget that we are operating under the rule of King Jesus. We taste some success, we see some good things happening and we, like Herod, begin to think that we are the center of the universe. And just like Herod, if we aren’t careful, we begin to realize just how thin the ego ice can be.
I recently realized (again) how deadly pride can be. It comes in so many shapes and sizes! I never want to breed paranoia. I don’t want you thinking that as believers we are walking in a tightly lain, deadly minefield, because we aren’t. Because of Jesus we have unbelievable freedom! But we do still battle evil. And our enemy is sneaky. He can sell us his wares so that they just quietly leak into our heads and hearts, subtly enough that we don’t realize their presence until they really begin to wreak havoc. That was my case with my own silvery robe. I didn’t realize the thing was in my closet until one day I had it on and was basking in my own glory…or want of it. The difference with the believer’s heart is that we should instantly reject any inkling of pride. It should make us sick at our stomachs. Rather than allowing onlookers to shout “It’s a god!” We should quickly and quietly stop them with something like, “No! Wait! There is only one God who shines and I am not Him!!”
So what’s wrong with taking a little credit? Nothing at all as long as you know where it goes. Corrie Ten Boom would say “I receive every compliment as a beautiful rose. At the end of each day I gather the bouquet and offer it to God with the words “Thank you for letting me enjoy the roses!”” Christian, the only thing good in us is Jesus. The only good things that we produce are the things that He produces through us. The only things we do that are worth bragging about are things that He dreamed up, equipped us to do, lent us the opportunity to accomplish them, and gave us the perseverance to complete. Get the picture?
This year I’m 2020 I want to see the Word of God increase and the Kingdom of God advance more than anything else I can dream of. Jesus, you keep the robe. Thank you for letting us enjoy the roses.