The Praise of Men!

Do not touch the glory.

by Derrel Emmerson

8 In Lystra there sat a man who was lame. He had been that way from birth and had never walked. 9 He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed 10 and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.
11 When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. 13 The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.
14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: 15 “Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them. 16 In the past, he let all nations go their own way. 17 Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” 18 Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them. (Acts 14:8-18)

Now this is a twist! Paul and Barnabas are used by God to bring Christ’s healing to a lame man. They are declared to be gods. They reject that affirmation and in fact tore their clothes. They did not just speak of their unworthiness but they acted on it.
The act of tearing their clothes was an act of sorrow. It expressed contrition. It symbolized that without clothes all men are naked. It reminded the disciples and the crowd that men are not to be praised because all men are mortal. Any disciple of Christ, who is to remain true, must be quick to push away the praises of others. Any true disciples of Christ will always point away from themselves as did those men. They will speak of Christ, the giver of all good things. The testimony of what is true is always the testimony of Christ.

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