Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Eaten Up With Pride

Eaten Up With Pride


So on a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them.  And the people kept shouting, “The voice of a god and not of a man!”  Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died.” – Acts 12:21-23

CS Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity wrote, “How is it that people who are quite obviously eaten up with Pride can say they believe in God and appear to themselves very religious? I am afraid it means they are worshiping an imaginary God.” At one time or another, we’ve all let our imaginations get away from us, and thought ourselves to be more than we are.  James 4:5-7 says that “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”, referring to God’s yearning to be first in our hearts.  He is deserving of nothing less than the throne of your heart.  When we give Him the throne freely, He gives us grace.  When we resist and assume the throne ourselves, God is jealous, and His wrath is fierce. 
Acts 12:21-23 tells of the death of King Herod due to his pride.  Being only a few verses in the book of Acts, we see the heart of Luke that he chose not to dwell on this man’s sin, but rather continue the story of the beginning of the Church.  To know the full story, we can refer to the historical account in the Antiquities of the Jews written by Jewish historian Flavius Josephus. 

King Herod was attending an annual sporting event that was held in honor of Caesar where vows of protection would be made for Caesar.  When Herod appeared, he wore a garment made entirely of silver. Coming to the arena early in the morning, “the first reflection of the sun's rays upon it, shone after a surprising manner, and was so resplendent as to spread a horror over those that looked intently on him.”  He sat high in the arena at a vantage point to see all the games. 
As Herod began to speak, the crowd began to shout “The voice of a god and not a man!”(Acts 12:22)  Josephus writes that they also shouted “Be thou merciful unto us, for although we have hitherto reverenced thee only as a king, yet shall we henceforth own thee as a superior to mortal nature." Josephus goes on to write, as does Luke, that Herod didn’t correct the people.  He allowed them to refer to him as a god, and to worship him.  Acts 12:23 says “Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died.  Herod’s sin was that he stole glory from God.  Rather than instructing the people to worship God instead of him, he just soaked up all the glory he could get and his self-pride dethroned God in his heart.

Now don’t glance over the last part of verse 23 or you’ll miss how he died.  He didn’t die, and then be eaten by worms.  He was eaten by worms, and because of that – died!  Josephus writes that a severe pain arose in his belly, and he became violently ill.  After five days, he was completely worn out, eaten up, and at fifty four years of age, died. 
The next verse in Acts 12:24 speaks loudly contrasting God’s power over the oration of Herod who became sick even while speaking under the hand of God.  It says, “But the word of God grew and multiplied.  God does not share His glory with anyone.  He is a jealous God, seeking the throne of each and every heart.

But let’s not put all the blame on King Herod.  He wasn’t the only one at fault here.  A crowd of people contributed to his demise by worshipping him.  Their cries that he was “a god and not a man”, begging for mercy for not before recognizing him as “superior to mortal nature” gave opportunity to his pride. 
It’s a careful balance we must have in praising someone and promoting their own pride.  The scales are only in balance when we offer praise to God for working through them.  Whether it’s a beautiful song sung with the voice of an angel, a sermon preached with magnificent wisdom, or a good deed done by a child, we can reduce the opportunity for self-pride by giving glory to God.  God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble.  In all forms of praise, we can be conduits of His grace.  He is Lord of All, and should be given honor and praise for all.

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