I confess, I have been a glory-stealer in the past. I still struggle against my flesh which craves the glory that is due God. I was oblivious to my hidden agenda for many years. On the surface, I believed I was serving God to glorify him. Underneath ran this current of desire to claim some of the glory for myself.
I relished the compliments and praise that came my way from fellow believers. I drank in their admiration. I fooled myself and others, saying it was all for God’s glory. Yet when God called me to step away from a ministry that showered me with kudos, I resisted. God illuminated my true reason for resistance. It wasn’t my love for who I was ministering to, but my love for the praise and recognition.
Torn open and laid bare before God, I was shaken to the core. Horrified, deep guttural sobs escaped from my throat. I wept and wept over my wicked heart. I confessed my glory-stealing ways and asked God to help me. I felt so unworthy of God’s love and grace. Yet, God lovingly unveiled my mixed motives for serving him that day. I sensed no anger or condemnation from him, only the desire to purify my soul.
I did want to glorify him, but I wanted to keep some of the glory for myself. “God, for serving you, I’m going to keep 50 percent of the praise for me. That alright with you?” Not that I ever tried to negotiate those terms, but that is what I was doing. When we steal some of the glory, we minimize what God has done. We take credit for what only he can do in and through us. We change the perspective of who did what; subtly my part is amplified and God’s part is diminished.
Paul told the Corinthians to do everything for the glory of God. “So whatever you eat or drink, whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (I Corinthians 10:31 NLT) Paul doesn’t say anything about taking a percentage for ourselves. Jesus also warned us about our motives. “Watch out! Don’t do your deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1 NLT) Glory-stealing is serious business.
Only God, and God alone, deserves our praise and worship. “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (Revelation 4:11 NIV) He is the creator! All exists because of his will, including us. How dare we incline our hearts toward glory and praise!
I’m guessing I’m not the only Christian who struggles with glory-stealing. Maybe you have never labeled yourself as such, but do you do it too? Do you enjoy the praise of others? Do you secretly desire others to notice your good deeds? Do you occasionally feel the need to “toot your own horn?” Do you feel let down if no one says anything about your solo or leadership or mentoring or acts of service?
We must put to death our fleshly desire for praise. We start by asking the Holy Spirit to reveal any ulterior motives so we can confess them and repent from them. We must humble ourselves before God. “And he gives grace generously. As the scripture says, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ So humble yourselves before God.” (James 4:6,7a NLT) Let’s make sure we are doing everything for the glory of God and not even a tiny bit of glory for ourselves. No negotiations for percentages with God, he gets 100%!