Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory. Acts 12:23a
Herod Agrippa was not a nice guy–he killed James the brother of John and imprisoned Peter–but no one could deny he was important. He was the grandson of the impressive (and murderous) Herod the Great. He was a friend of Emperors and one of the great princes of the East, ruling over the land of Judea. So when Herod, decked in royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a stirring ovation, it seemed only fitting that the crowds would shout, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!”
Ah, such a discerning crowd. Such a grateful people. Such a good day to be king. Herod just soaked it all in.
God let it all hang out, and he struck down Herod dead right on the spot.
What made Herod’s crime so serious as to merit such swift retribution? He committed no crime against humanity (not in this moment at least). He decreed no unjust law. He did nothing outwardly heinous. No, Herod’s crime lay in what he failed to do. He did not give God the glory.
No one may mistake us for gods, but someone may hail you as a great quarterback, a fabulous cook, a drop-dead beauty, a powerful preacher, a gifted writer, a tremendous student, a successful entrepreneur, or a really kind person. Now what to do? In most cases rebuking the encourager is a sign of pride more than humility. Just say thank you. But then you ought to quickly say, think, or feel, “to God be the glory.”
We may be self-aware enough not to seek out showers of fame and praise, but it sure is easy to bathe in it when it comes. We all have Herod in our hearts. Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. We love the fame of our name more than the Lord’s.
So remember what Herod forgot: the world does not exist to make our dreams come true. Our friends do exist to make us feel special. The church does not exist to make us feel comfortable. And God does not exist to make much of us. His glory he will not give to another. “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory” (Psalm 115:1).