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“Thank you so much for taking time to bring me dinner while I’m sick. I’ve noticed that you have a selfless, others-focused life, and I’m so grateful to be a beneficiary of that grace in you.”

“Well, glory to God!”

I see these sorts of exchanges often. Someone writes or speaks a word of encouragement, specifically pointing out God’s goodness in the life of a friend. The recipient of the kind message, perhaps not knowing how to respond, deflects the encouragement with a statement such as “Glory to God.”

Of course, it’s important and right to consistently acknowledge the Lord and not to take credit and glory for the gifts that God has provided or the opportunities you have, but it’s another thing to deflect all encouragement so that we appear humble. And so we must ask: In our efforts to deflect all acknowledgments to God for what we do, are we exercising true humility or are we operating from a disposition of false humility?

False Humility

There’s good reason to be concerned about boasting. As we know, boasting is a sin. Paul reminds us in Ephesians that our boasting about salvation can only be attributed to Christ (2:8–9). Even beyond our salvation, there is nothing that we have that we did not receive—not even one thing (1 Cor. 4:7). It is foolishness to boast in the men we follow as if they are all wise and therefore that our wisdom and knowledge is great (1 Cor. 3:18–23). There’s no room for boasting. We cannot take credit for what God has done and is doing.

But God is in the business of transforming the heart. We can deflect and use stock phrases such as “glory to God” and “better than I deserve” and not mean any of it. Because sin has affected us so deeply, even our perceived humility can be false and fake. This doesn’t mean that we need to be perpetually introspective, and we most definitely shouldn’t live under guilt. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1). On the contrary, there is freedom, great freedom to receive encouragement as a blessing and to thank God for the work He has done in your life.

There’s no room for boasting. We cannot take credit for what God has done and is doing.
Christians Need Encouragement

Throughout all of Scripture, we see evidence that Christians are not meant to walk alone in their faith. In fact, we are instructed to encourage each other (Prov. 27:17; 1 Thess. 5:11; Heb. 10:23–25), because we need one another.

The word need might be difficult to accept. Do you and I really need the encouragement of others? Isn’t Christ all that we need? Yes, but Christ often provides what we need through the words and deeds of other people.

Scripture indicates that there is a need for encouragement from others so that we can finish the race well. We will sometimes be discouraged in our journeys, and we need reminders from our fellow laborers and brothers and sisters in Christ that God is for us and with us and has changed us. That we are doing good work and living in step with the Spirit. This means that you and I should feel a freedom to receive that encouragement. Receive it, rejoice in it, remember the Lord, and remember that it is God who has done this work of grace. You need to be encouraged.

What do we say then? If you struggle to receive encouragement without verbally acknowledging that the Lord is responsible, by all means, say it. But if you have used a cliché phrase to appear humble, confess your sin and ask God to help you receive encouragement, acknowledging in your heart that He is the giver of all good things.

Next time you say, “Glory to God!” may it be because you truly believe that God deserves all the glory for what He has done. And perhaps an alternative way of receiving encouragement would be to simply say, “Thank you!”

Editor’s Note: This article was first published on January 5, 2018.

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