“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?
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.