SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2011
BEWARE WHEN MEN PRAISE YOU
The people gave him a great ovation, shouting, it’s the voice of a God, not of a man. Instantly, an angel of the Lord struck Herod with a sickness, because he accepted the people’s worship instead of giving the glory of God. So he was consumed with worms and died.’ (Acts 12 v 22,23.)
HEROD died horribly. He was literally eaten alive by worms. Pride is a serious sin, and in this case, God chose to punish it immediately. God does not immediately punish all sin, but he will judge everyone (Hebrews 9v27).
These coastal cities, Tyre and Sidon, were free and self-governing but economically dependent on Judea. We don’t know why Herod quarrelled with them, but representatives from those cities were trying to appease him through his personal assistant – Blastus.
Suddenly, Herod Agrippa became joyful and overreached Himself. He appropriated honour meant for God. In his self- delusion, he allowed Heroic worship, which eventually caused him his life.
From time to time, the devil sets trap for people in exalted office and his intention is to cause them to falter, and many have yielded already.
Some in public offices are surrounded by people who would not allow them to know real issues on the ground. By the time some realise what is happening, they have made so many grievous mistakes or have been ruined.
Even in the church circle, people are not spared the allurement of office. The devil sometimes makes mince meat of those who make themselves pawns in his hands. There are praises and adulations that, if one is not careful, could bring ruin and fall to a man of God.
Some would say: ‘You have the yam and you have the knife; whoever you give, receives!’ Or: ‘Ride on we are solidly with you!’ Men of God, when such comments come your way, think twice; don’t get carried away. The case of Paul and Barnabas remains exemplary. They resisted public acclamation. The Bible records: ‘while they were at Lystra, Paul and Barnabas came upon a man with crippled feet. He had been that way from birth, so he had never walked. He was sitting and listening as Paul preached. Looking straight at him, Paul realised he had faith to be healed. So Paul called to him in a loud voice, Stand up! And the man jumped to his feet and started walking. When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in their local dialect, these men are gods in human form! They decided that Barnabas was the Greek god Zeus and that Paul was Hermes, since he was the chief speaker. Now the temple of Zeus was located just outside the town. So the priest of the temple and the crowd brought bulls and wreaths of flowers to the town gates and they prepared to offer sacrifices to the apostles. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard what was happening, they tore their clothing in dismay and ran out among the people, shouting, friends, why are you doing this? We are mere human beings – just like you! We have come to bring you Good News that you should turn from these worthless things and turn to the living God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them’. (Acts. 14v8-15.)
Ovation came to Herod, but it was not real. He heard shouting; ‘It’s the voice of God!’ He rejoiced. He accepted honour meant for God and was pitiably eaten by worms.
In the same vein, people have died, like Herod. Some could also be ‘walking corpses’. I think that God, in His infinite mercy, is still waiting for a change of heart. Until one rejects worldly ruinous adulations, the end may be sudden and calamitous.
As the year gradually rolls to an end, it behoves believers to check themselves. Ovation, if not properly handled, might bring a person to the end of the road.
When men hail, you how do you feel? Puffed up or humbled? God gives grace to the humble but opposes the proud.VEN. ERNEST ONUOHA Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Retreat Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.