Authored by Steve Hearts
Most of us enjoy receiving compliments regarding our achievements and the areas in which we are gifted, but we are entering a danger zone when we begin to take the credit for ourselves instead of giving it to God. What’s wrong with taking a little well-deserved glory and credit? Let’s briefly go back in time and see what the Bible teaches us about this attitude.
Acts 12:21–23 tells of King Herod sitting on his throne one day, dressed in “royal apparel,” speaking to a crowd of people. They are all mesmerized and shout, “It is the voice of a God, not of a man.” As the conclusion goes, “And immediately, the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.”1
In the fourth chapter of the book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, gives his own personal account of having learned this very lesson. His kingdom was, at that time, the most powerful, prosperous, and far-reaching empire—and he prided himself on it.
God sees his failure to give glory where it is due and warns him of his fate through a troubling dream.
The king dreamt of a tree that grew so tall, its height reached heaven. It was a fruitful tree, and birds took refuge in its branches. Suddenly, an angel came down from heaven and decreed that the tree be cut down, stripped of its fruits, leaves, and branches, and that only the stump should remain. Its heart was to be changed from a man’s heart to the heart of a beast, and it was to live and eat like a beast for seven years as a lesson to all people that the Most High rules.
Naturally, the dream freaked the king out and he called upon his magicians and wise men, but none of them could interpret it. So he called on Daniel, who by this time had been appointed as the king’s chief adviser, after having interpreted his previous dream in the second chapter.
Daniel let Nebuchadnezzar know that the tree he saw in the dream was none other than himself. Because of his pride and failure to glorify God, the king would be turned into an animal, be taken from his palace to eat grass along with the oxen. His hair would grow to be as long as eagle’s hair, and his fingernails would become as bird’s claws. He would live this way for seven years, until he learned to give glory where it is due. The remaining stump symbolized his kingdom, which was to remain established during this time.
Daniel pleads with the king: “Be pleased to accept my advice: renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.”2
God apparently gave Nebuchadnezzar a bit of time to heed Daniel’s warnings, but he failed to do so. As the story goes, twelve months after his dream and his talk with Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar was luxuriating in his palace and saying, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”3
No sooner does the king speak these words than an angel from heaven loudly proclaims that the time predicted is upon him. In verses 33–34, we are told: “Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird. At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.”4
Nebuchadnezzar concluded by saying, “Those who walk in pride he is able to humble.”5 I use this story with a more extreme example to make a point about the importance of giving credit to whom it belongs. But something worth taking note of is that while God had a very specific way of dealing with Nebuchadnezzar, He is also very just and merciful in His judgments of His children. He knows that we are human and that it is within our nature to turn to pride. For that reason, I believe that He brings each of us along the path of humility in a different way—and the way that He knows will best help us to learn how to give credit to where it truly belongs.
The first time I felt God brought this lesson to my attention was when I was 11 years old. Around this time, I was getting pretty good at playing the keyboard.
When an outreach project for young people was launched and I was asked to join the music crew, my pride increased. I felt “special.” I was proud of my talent and would find myself putting down my peers who seemed less talented. When complimented, I would verbally give God the glory, while inwardly soaking it up like a sponge.
Before the project could get very far off the ground, it fell through. There went my opportunity to be “special”! Though this was a blow to my pride, the lesson I learned remains with me today. I learned that regardless of our obvious outward conduct and behavior, God sees what’s really inside us and He is never fooled.
As James tells us, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.”6
All our gifts, talents, and strengths come from our heavenly Father, and are meant to glorify Him. As Paul says, “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”7
1 King James Version
2 Daniel 4:27 NIV
3 Daniel 4:30 NIV
4 New International Version
5 Daniel 4:37 NIV
6 James 1:17 NIV
7 1 Corinthians 6:20 NKJV
Read by Stephen Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2015 by The Family International