He [Herod] put on his royal robes, sat on his throne, and made a speech to them. At its conclusion the people gave him a great ovation, shouting, “It is the voice of a god and not of a man!” Instantly, an angel of the Lord struck Herod with a sickness so that he was filled with maggots and died—because he accepted the people’s worship instead of giving the glory to God. [Acts 12:21b-23 (TLB)]
Our voices, our service, and our abilities are to be employed, primarily, for the glory of God. [Billy Graham]
When it comes to compliments, it’s not only more blessed to give than receive, but often far easier. Praise is a beautiful gift of encouragement and, like any gift, it should be acknowledged with thanks. But what then? None of us want to end the way Herod Agrippa did when he failed to give the glory to God! God is the source of everything that is good in our lives and He has blessed each of us with an array of aptitudes and gifts that enable us to do His work and bring Him glory. While we may put forth a great deal of effort to develop them, our talents, skills, insight, and achievements are not ours alone; they come from the grace of God. It is only right to acknowledge his greatness and give Him the honor and praise. So, when we receive praise, how do we give God the glory that is His?
While I occasionally see, “To God be the glory!” at the end of an actor’s biography in a theater program, I’m not sure it works so well in conversation. Responding to a compliment with, “To God be the glory!” is a Christianese phrase that could be off-putting, especially to non-believers. It might even seem a little boastful—as if God gifted me but not you or my God-given gift is better than yours. Yet, not acknowledging God in our response to sincere praise means we’ve wasted a valuable opportunity to share the gospel. After thanking someone for their encouragement, how do we use their words as an opportunity to celebrate all that God has done in and through us? Of course, I’m going on the assumption that whatever we’ve done that earned the compliment we truly did to glorify God.
While saying “To God be the glory!” may seem a bit flippant or trite, other responses might work better. We could say something like: “I’m thankful to God that you liked my work,” or “I’m happy to be able to use God’s gifts this way,” or “Anything praiseworthy in me is really Him,” or even, “God’s blessed me with a beautiful gift and I hope to use it wisely.” Whatever we say, our response should be humble, sincere and heartfelt. Let’s always remember to give credit where credit is due! To God be the glory!
To God be the glory, great things He hath done;
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life gate that all may go in.
[Fanny Crosby (1875)]