Acts 12:21-22 - On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man." Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.
We don't fear the consequences of pride near enough. The celebrity author/speaker/pastor has never been more widely accepted in the church. Many leaders actually try to position themselves to garner this kind of platform in order to market their wares. Twitter feeds and personal websites slam us with self-promotion leading to the clicks, hits, subscribers or Facebook friends.
Let's be honest, we want to be gods. We want to sit on a self-constructed throne wearing the garb of power delivering a public address to the masses. We want to go as public as we can, drawing the widest net of net-worth. Even in false humility it is easy to respond to praise with: "oh, it was nothing" all the while baiting for another stroke of the ego. False humility is maybe the worst in the pride-category of crimes.
"This is the voice of a god, not a man." And we're addicted. Just a taste of this treatment can go to our heads like a hit of cocaine. Everything within us wants to make like it has little to no effect/affect, but it's impossible to not crave this sort of worship. And make no mistake, it is worship of the highest order. We love the robe, the throne and the microphone. This is the stage we all dream of standing on.
And the sad reality is that people don't get struck down by God when they steal the show. Sometimes it feels like the ones who bathe themselves in self-congratulation and self-aggrandizement are the ones who get the lead role in the play. Their ministries still grow. Their influence seems to spread and it looks every bit like they are on top of the world.
I wish the angel of the Lord would strike down people who steal God's praise these days. Oh wait, I take that back, cause I'd have been dead a long time ago. If I tried to recount the times I've pilfered God's glory, it would be innumerable. So let me be sure to express my thanks for grace along with my issues with grace.
Grace is great, but sometimes it dilutes what is truly true. If leaders would be struck down "immediately" when they forgot who they really were and who God really was, it sure would make it easier to discern the shepherds from the schmucks. And then if they were "eaten by worms" to put the finishing touch on things, it would make it even easier to pick out and pick off pride. I think I would think twice before basking in the limelight. I would measure my steps very carefully and make sure my motives and methods were completely vertical in value.
I find it hard to know what I really want. Grace or the Guillotine. Probably if I was real honest I would want others to get the guillotine as long as I got the grace. This is what makes me think I'm a great candidate for being smitten by the angel of the Lord...truth be told.
God, have mercy on me a sinner.
Oh, one more thing to note: Did you notice the progression of death?
#1 - Struck down
#2 - Eaten by worms
#3 - (then) Death