You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased. [Revelation 4:11 (NLT)]
The words Soli Deo gloria, meaning “glory to God alone,” were the words at the end of the actor’s bio in the show’s playbill. The addition of those three words in his brief resume was the actor’s way of acknowledging the source of his talent and dedicating his work to God’s glory. I thought of those words when someone flattered me recently. While I knew “Glory to God alone,” was not the right response, I wasn’t sure what was.
John Stott said, “Flattery is like cigarette smoke. It does you no harm if you don’t inhale.” While we all take pleasure in compliments and praise, we must be careful not to let them inflate our egos. When appropriate, we should publicly acknowledge God’s part in our success but I’m pretty sure responses like “I’ve been blessed by God,” or “All glory to God!” to favorable remarks about our appearance, attire, possessions or achievements might do little to further His kingdom. Yet, stopping at a polite “thank you” seems to leave the Giver of all Gifts out of things entirely. How do we keep from inhaling that flattery?
Perhaps, after accepting a compliment with thanks, we should hand the praise off to God in silent prayer much as we hope our waiter does to the chef after we’ve complimented a delicious meal. Like a waiter, we just dish up what’s been given to us by the Creator of All Good Things. If our waiter accepts the praise but doesn’t pass along our compliments to the kitchen, he’s done the chef a disservice and in danger of thinking he’s the one responsible for the gourmet meal. If we fail to hand off the praise we’ve received to the one who gave us our gifts, we do God a disservice. We’re at risk of allowing flattery to make us think we’re the ones who should get the glory. Keeping that praise to ourselves makes us bigger and God smaller when it definitely should be the other way around.
Heavenly Father, thank you for all the beautiful things you’ve cooked up for us in your heavenly kitchen. As we share them with the people around us, let us never forget that we are just the servers or channels for your many blessings; we neither made them nor are they ours to keep. Soli Deo gloria—glory to God alone!